- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 27, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1501146920
- ISBN-13: 978-1501146923
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 45 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism Hardcover – March 27, 2018
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"High-minded cultural criticism, concise, rhetorically agile, lit up by Douthat's love for the Roman Catholic Church....an adroit, perceptive, gripping account....It's strong stuff, conversationally lively and expressive."—The New York Times Book Review
"Erudite and thought-provoking....weaves a gripping account of Vatican politics into a broader history of Catholic intellectual life to explain the civil war within the church....Douthat manages in a slim volume what most doorstop-size, more academic church histories fail to achieve: He brings alive the Catholic 'thread that runs backward through time and culture, linking the experiences of believers across two thousand years.' He helps us see that Christians have wrestled repeatedly with the same questions over the past two millennia."—The Washington Post
"A powerfully prophetic work whose sobriety and fairness magnifies the force of its warning. Pope Francis is leading a theological revolution whose recklessness beggars belief, and the effects of which stand to be more epochal than most Catholics realize. Ross Douthat reads the signs of these anxious times with acute clarity and far-seeing vision. To Change the Church is must reading for every Christian who cares about the fate of the West and the future of global Christianity."—Rod Dreher, author of The Benedict Option
About the Author
Ross Douthat is a columnist for The New York Times op-ed page. He is the author of To Change The Church, Privilege, and Grand New Party. Before joining the Times he was a senior editor for The Atlantic. He is the film critic for National Review, and he has appeared regularly on television, including Charlie Rose, PBS Newshour, and Real Time with Bill Maher.
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But I greatly appreciated this book. I thought it was fair and balanced. It did not portray Pope Francis as the Evil Antichrist but neither did it praise the pope as does the secular media and liberal Catholics. He tackled this subject with much humility, knowing that he could be wrong. I need to keep that humility myself. At times, I publicly express my anger at this pope. May God forgive me.
I also appreciate that Douthat still sees that God is in charge. No matter how much damage Pope Francis MAY bring upon the church, God will bring it back to the truth. But I may not be alive to see it. It may take hundreds of years! But history shows that this will eventually happen.
In response to his NY Times columns on Catholicism, Douthat was attacked by a coterie of academic theologians appalled at his lack of formal study in their disciplines. In this book he repeatedly upends their criticism by cutting through the empty rhetoric of church-speak. Consider his comment on just one paragraph prepared for the Ordinary Synod on the Family: "Read expansively and intuitively and through the lens of what Walter Kasper and the pope desired,it showed a sympathy toward returning the remarried to communion without welcoming them explicitly. Read by a normal person through a neutral lens, it was a turgid, impenetrable endorsement of nothing in particular--which is presumably why 64 of the 250-odd bishops still voted against it when the document was brought up for the once-threatened but ultimately permitted paragraph-by-paragraph vote."
Douthat's critique of the pope's move to open the sacraments to the remarried in the name of "mercy" will surely cause him to be numbered among the so-called Pharisees against whom the pope and his most ardent supporters often inveigh. Yet as Douthat carefully explains, Jesus "often condemns the Jewish traditionalists and legalists of his time not because they are simplistic or harsh in their moral demands, but because their ritualism obscures the clarity of the moral law, or turns the law into a too clever means for people to avoid their clear moral obligations." In the tradition of great Catholic converts, Douthat upholds the high standards for living a Christian life that have been handed down through our tradition. He expects the pope to do the same, and that is why he wrote this compelling argument against the "mess" of which Pope Francis seems strangely proud.