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The Church in the Future

I just finished reading the book I mentioned before The Future Church by John Allen, Jr.  His concluding chapter includes some discussion of how change happens in the church.  Is the Church slow to change?  Yes; as Allen writes

The multiple layers of authority in Catholicism, its strong emphasis on tradition, and its deliberately self-referential ethos are all designed to ensure that the Church doesn’t march to the beat of a given culture or historical moment (428).

Should the church be open to new developments in the world?  For instance, in the last one hundred years the world has made massive technological advancement.  Recognizing value in technology, Pope Benedict XVI says we need to use new means of communication to spread the gospel (Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI For the 44th World Communications Day, “The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word”).

Another area of development is Psychology.  Psychology as its own field has only existed for less than two centuries.  Psychology has much to say about understanding the human mind and development.  We must listen to what psychology can teach us but psychology does not determine right and wrong.  Psychology helps us understand human nature and why we do something.  God determines what is good.

Thus, we must stand up for what we believe in.  Allen writes

This is one sense in which Catholicism in the West, and especially in the United States, is actually more evangelized than evangelical.  Too many Catholics have been evangelized by the psychology of secular politics, seeing the Church as a terrain upon which interest-group battles are fought, rather than as the common table of the Lord around which these differences dissolve.  The tenor of much Catholic conversation these days might be expressed as an ideologue’s spin on the Lord’s Prayer: “MY will be done.” (454).

We need to be willing to revisit what it means to be Catholic.  Common practices of individual confession, Eucharistic adoration, and Marian devotion have died off in a society that doesn’t understand why we have such practices (437).  In fact, many Catholics don’t understand these practices.  That doesn’t mean they don’t have great value in our relationship with Jesus.

How much do you understand about these Catholic practices?


Fr. Jeff

John L. Allen, Jr., The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church, New York: DoubleDay, 2009.

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