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The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church by John Allen One of the world’s foremost religion journalists offers an unexpected and provocative look at where the Catholic Church is headed—and what the changes will mean for all of us. What will the Catholic Church be like in 100 years? Will dioceses throughout the United States and the rest of The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church by John Allen One of the world’s foremost religion journalists offers an unexpected and provocative look at where the Catholic Church is headed—and what the changes will mean for all of us. What will the Catholic Church be like in 100 years? Will dioceses throughout the United States and the rest of the world go bankrupt from years of scandal? In The Future Church, John L. Allen puts forth the ten trends he believes will transform the Church into the twenty-second century. From the influence of Catholics in Africa, Asia, and Latin America on doctrine and practices to the impact of multinational organizations on local and ethical standards, Allen delves into the impact of globalization on the Roman Catholic Church and argues that it must rethink fundamental issues, policies, and ways of doing business. Allen shows that over the next century, the Church will have to respond to changes within the institution itself and in the world as a whole whether it is contending with biotechnical advances—including cloning and genetic enhancement—the aging Catholic population, or expanding the roles of the laity. Like Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat, The Future Church establishes a new framework for meeting the challenges of a changing world. John L. Allen Jr. is a Vatican correspondent and a Vatican analyst for CNN and National Public Radio. He is the author of The Rise of Benedict XVI and All the Pope's Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Miami Herald, The Nation, and many other publications. His Internet column, "The Word from Rome," is considered by knowledgeable observers to be the best single source of insights on Vatican affairs in the English language.


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The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church by John Allen One of the world’s foremost religion journalists offers an unexpected and provocative look at where the Catholic Church is headed—and what the changes will mean for all of us. What will the Catholic Church be like in 100 years? Will dioceses throughout the United States and the rest of The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church by John Allen One of the world’s foremost religion journalists offers an unexpected and provocative look at where the Catholic Church is headed—and what the changes will mean for all of us. What will the Catholic Church be like in 100 years? Will dioceses throughout the United States and the rest of the world go bankrupt from years of scandal? In The Future Church, John L. Allen puts forth the ten trends he believes will transform the Church into the twenty-second century. From the influence of Catholics in Africa, Asia, and Latin America on doctrine and practices to the impact of multinational organizations on local and ethical standards, Allen delves into the impact of globalization on the Roman Catholic Church and argues that it must rethink fundamental issues, policies, and ways of doing business. Allen shows that over the next century, the Church will have to respond to changes within the institution itself and in the world as a whole whether it is contending with biotechnical advances—including cloning and genetic enhancement—the aging Catholic population, or expanding the roles of the laity. Like Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat, The Future Church establishes a new framework for meeting the challenges of a changing world. John L. Allen Jr. is a Vatican correspondent and a Vatican analyst for CNN and National Public Radio. He is the author of The Rise of Benedict XVI and All the Pope's Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Miami Herald, The Nation, and many other publications. His Internet column, "The Word from Rome," is considered by knowledgeable observers to be the best single source of insights on Vatican affairs in the English language.

30 review for The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church

  1. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    Allen is a respected journalist who has covered the Vatican for many years. It is as an experienced journalist that he identifies and explains ten trends that are having and will continue to have a significant impact on the institutional Catholic Church and its life on the grassroots level. These trends range from external forces such as developments in the biotech world or the growth of Islam to internal forces such as the proliferation of lay leadership to the shift in Catholic population to t Allen is a respected journalist who has covered the Vatican for many years. It is as an experienced journalist that he identifies and explains ten trends that are having and will continue to have a significant impact on the institutional Catholic Church and its life on the grassroots level. These trends range from external forces such as developments in the biotech world or the growth of Islam to internal forces such as the proliferation of lay leadership to the shift in Catholic population to the hemisphere. Allen pulls in facts and quotations from every sector of society and every corner of the globe to paint a picture that avoids parochialism. From the outset, he makes it clear that this book is not predictive but descriptive. Although he suggests possible ways each trend may likely be evident in the future, these are large stroke statements and never argue for a particular response on the part of the institution or its members. Allen managed to communicate an amazing amount of information in a highly readable and thought provoking fashion.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Beth Neu

    A global perspective of the Catholic Church. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out 40-50 years from now. I think it is very difficult to predict that far out into the future, hopefully some of the Church hierarchy are paying attention to the issues Allen raises.

  3. 5 out of 5

    P

    John Allen, Jr., the venerated editor of Crux, identifies and analyzes ten inextricably related phenomena shaping the early 21st century Church. (1) The Church is now inarguably a World Church. Contrary to the all-too-familiar prognostications in the West (or, as Allen prefers it, the global North), the story of Catholicism is massive growth, not decline. In the South, Catholicism, compared to its major competitors Islam and Pentecostalism, appears moderate and sophisticated, better able to enga John Allen, Jr., the venerated editor of Crux, identifies and analyzes ten inextricably related phenomena shaping the early 21st century Church. (1) The Church is now inarguably a World Church. Contrary to the all-too-familiar prognostications in the West (or, as Allen prefers it, the global North), the story of Catholicism is massive growth, not decline. In the South, Catholicism, compared to its major competitors Islam and Pentecostalism, appears moderate and sophisticated, better able to engage modern science, politics, and economics. (2) We move North, where Evangelical Catholicism, or what some may call “conservative” or “traditionalist” Catholicism, is coming to the fore. As religious affiliations, vocations, and Mass attendance drop, those who remain in the Church perceive the animosity of rampant liberal secularism and become more entrenched in rigid interpretations of tradition. This is reflected, for example, in the explosion of interest in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and frequent repudiations of Vatican II. The distinctions between Northern and Southern are stark, and have made me aware of just how parochial my thinking is; the doctrinal issues in which so many, myself included, are spiritually invested are revealed as largely irrelevant to Southern Catholics, and for that reason alone I would recommend the book to many American and European Catholics as a sort of check on our own theological and political self-aggrandizement. (3) Islam. Some interesting points are worth sharing. One, Islam will replace Judaism as the most important interfaith relationship. Two, the idea of a “Counter-Reformational Islam”: “Some say what Islam needs today is a Reformation…. In light of the crisis of authority, however, … this has things exactly backwards. Islam has already had its Reformation, and what it needs now is a Counter-Reformation. It requires a “Shia surge,” which is happening in many non-Arab Muslim countries today; it needs its Council of Trent (to grossly oversimplify, Shia Islam : Catholicism :: Sunni Islam : the Reformed tradition). This is likely the chapter trads will find most exasperating, as Allen follows Popes St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI in encouraging dialogue and understanding between the religions. (4) What Allen terms the New Demography: population is growing in the global South, falling in the global North. The U.S. is the Northern anomaly, and this due in large part to a growing Hispanic population that has an above-average fertility rate (i.e. at or above replacement level). Allen notes that in the South, where the Church is remarkably young, She possesses “a remarkable degree of vigor, a sense of not being weighed down by the past.” Readers are doubtless aware of looming challenges to the healthcare and Social Security systems in America (Allen astutely writes, “It’s precisely when countries most need immigrants that immigration tends to be a tough sell”). For the Church, Allen predicts that parishes will begin elderly care networks, nursing programs, robust social justice initiatives (and bioethical arguments) against euthanasia, etc. There may even be an increase in late-life vocations. All this is closely tied to… (5) Expanding Lay Roles, which are already “so ubiquitous as to almost escape notice.” It’s no secret that there’s a dearth of new religious, even in the global South. Of course, the Church will not open ordination to women, but it is worth noting that “new lay professional roles are held disproportionately by women.” 64% of ecclesial ministers in the U.S. are laywomen. Half of diocesan-level administrative positions are held by women. At the most senior levels in dioceses, women hold over a quarter of executive positions, compared to just over a fifth in the secular private sector. Whether or not these positions are adequately respected, salaried and stable is another question, one that the Church must address. This will be an interesting development to watch in the coming decades. (6) The Biotech Revolution. Somewhat surprisingly, this chapter bored me. I suppose I’m skeptical of journalistic treatments of ethics and prefer “the hard stuff;” I recognize most people don’t peruse back issues of National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly on their lunch breaks. Anyway, major advances in reproductive technology, cloning, stem cell research, genetic engineering, GMOs, etc. are forcing the Church to expand and refine its theology on these issues. Allen is careful to note, though, that, one, “for most of the world, the bioethical questions that truly matter are of a much more mundane character…. Pouring limited health care time and treasure into the pursuit of chimeric mice and savior babies may actually make things worse for the world’s poor.” And two, “Official Catholic teaching unambiguously condemns failures to provide health care to all,” as confirmed in 1963 by Pope John XXIII, 1979 by Pope St. John Paul II, and by the USCCB in 1993 (and now, of course, Francis). (7) Globalization, the bogeyman that has “the curious distinction of being both almost impossible to define, and yet, by universal agreement, the most important reality of our time.” The Church’s long-standing principles can be applied toward globalization: championing universal human rights; emphasizing the social nature of the human person; encouraging the common good; promoting individual and social solidarity; a preferential option for the poor; the political concept of subsidiarity (state decisions should be made at the lowest possible level to achieve the common good); pushing for just societies; and concern for integral humanism (i.e., both material and spiritual liberation, both bread and prayer). Allen admits this is all rather abstract and that it’s extremely difficult to reconcile concrete differences between the wide range of Catholic political and economic opinion. (8) Ecology; the idea of a Catholic environmentalism. This one’s relatively self-explanatory: we should act as stewards and caretakers of God’s creation. Again, the option for the poor and the right to a safe and health natural environment; we’ll have to make lifestyle changes. Skeptics remain, of course. (9) Multipolarism, i.e. the arrangement by which the interaction of multiple points of influence shape history rather than a single power or the tension between multiple powers. Allen writes at length of the BRIC nations. Protestantism (read: Pentecostalism) has exploded in China, while Catholicism has kept pace with population growth. Indian Catholicism is expanding, as is its “adventurous,” pluralistic theology. In Russia, there are perhaps twenty thousand practicing Roman Catholics, so that’s that. Brazil is the largest Catholic country on earth, but Pentecostalism and the “nones” are rapidly gaining ground. (10) Pentecostalism, a collection of Christian movements with the common factor of direct personal contact with God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It’s been well argued that Pentecostalism is Christianity’s answer to globalization, and Catholicism has answered in turn with its own Charismatic movements. A product of the 20th century, Pentecostalism now claims more worldwide adherents than Orthodox, Anglicans and Lutherans combined; Allen maintains that “when future histories of Christianity are written, the late 20th century will probably come to be known as the era of the ‘Pentecostal Explosion.’” Allen ends with a special plea to Catholics in the United States to overcome our regrettable and unsustainable tribalism: “American Catholics spent the first half of the twentieth century clawing their way out of a ghetto that had been imposed upon them by a hostile Protestant majority and the second half reconstructing ghettoes of their own ideological choice. They ended the century as badly divided as they had begun, only this time divided not from the Protestants but from one another. The global Catholicism of the 21st century will rattle neoconservative cages with its emphasis on reform of economic systems and critique of American militarism, will distress liberal Church reformers with its immobility, will unsettle liturgical traditionalists with its Pentecostal-style praise and worship, will gall some Asian theologians by the way Church authorities reassert the uniqueness of the salvation won in Christ, and will concern Catholics invested in ecumenical and interfaith work with its more robustly apologetic tone. No one will inhabit the Church of his or her personal dreams, and all Catholics will face the primal choice of whether that reality will close them down, or will open them up to new possibilities.” Alas, if only Allen could have foreseen in 2009 footnote 321 of Amoris Laetitia. The Future Church is a journalistic work in the best sense of the word: within its Catholic context it is concise, clear, and unbiased. The chapters feature a uniform structure, introduced by brief anecdotal episodes, sections explaining the each trend and their relationship to the Church, and finally a section with varying degrees of possible consequences. Highly recommended, and it'd be nice to have an updated edition in the coming years.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Patti Clement

    Excellent book written from a journalist's perspective, but by someone who is in the know about the Vatican because he has covered the Vatican as a correspondent for years! Easy to read and very thought provoking! I highly recommend this book! Excellent book written from a journalist's perspective, but by someone who is in the know about the Vatican because he has covered the Vatican as a correspondent for years! Easy to read and very thought provoking! I highly recommend this book!

  5. 4 out of 5

    J

    I don't like church politic books, but I have to read it for a book club ... I don't like church politic books, but I have to read it for a book club ...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sally Hannoush

    "The Future Church" was extremely long that my attention kept straying. I underestimated my interest in this book. I'm not saying it was bad-not at all. But I did do some skipping around. I think of all kinds of possible outcomes for our future that I don't even know what to think anymore. I liked how the differences in culture and society are explained by giving examples on the group that would accept and another reject in references to the issues and the church. Too many factors are considered "The Future Church" was extremely long that my attention kept straying. I underestimated my interest in this book. I'm not saying it was bad-not at all. But I did do some skipping around. I think of all kinds of possible outcomes for our future that I don't even know what to think anymore. I liked how the differences in culture and society are explained by giving examples on the group that would accept and another reject in references to the issues and the church. Too many factors are considered but with all things-you can't make everyone happy. Nothing can ever stay the same so who knows what beliefs and acceptance we will have in the future based on politics, gender, morality, and most importantly faith and and unity. This book pours out the image of the Pope as a symbol of hope: religion, education, sickness, poverty, culture, politics, and so much more. The information in this book is overwhelming with arguments and questions. No one will leave this book without learning something. While the Catholic Church is the main subject, it all underlines the common good- in everything- so our species can survive and prosper.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Roger Buck

    My opinion of this very useful book may surprise readers of my rather traditional website (here: http://corjesusacratissimum.org). But I have to say it: although Allen is much more liberal than I am, he truly endeavours to be fair in his reportage, listening carefully to both conservative and liberals alike. Most journalism, by contrast, is horrendously biased. Here, Allen brings his excellent, balanced reporting to many areas of the global church, taking in many issues which people in the so-call My opinion of this very useful book may surprise readers of my rather traditional website (here: http://corjesusacratissimum.org). But I have to say it: although Allen is much more liberal than I am, he truly endeavours to be fair in his reportage, listening carefully to both conservative and liberals alike. Most journalism, by contrast, is horrendously biased. Here, Allen brings his excellent, balanced reporting to many areas of the global church, taking in many issues which people in the so-called first world often forget. Essential reading for anyone trying to grasp where the Church is headed in the future from a liberal Catholic who - refreshingly - does not have an axe to grind. For anyone who may be interested, I also have at my website a long, in-depth review of another truly great book by Allen which reveals the same constructive approach … http://corjesusacratissimum.org/2009/...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    A insightful look into 21st Century trends affecting both the world at large and the Catholic Church in particular. John L. Allen Jr. carefully assesses the reality of each trend and breaks out an array of possible outcomes from each. While the focus is on the Catholic Church, it is arguably of value to anyone who is interested in how faiths may change in the next 90 years. Definitely useful, but Allen occasionally goes for the cheap one-liner and, despite attempts make this a solely descriptive A insightful look into 21st Century trends affecting both the world at large and the Catholic Church in particular. John L. Allen Jr. carefully assesses the reality of each trend and breaks out an array of possible outcomes from each. While the focus is on the Catholic Church, it is arguably of value to anyone who is interested in how faiths may change in the next 90 years. Definitely useful, but Allen occasionally goes for the cheap one-liner and, despite attempts make this a solely descriptive work, he, in a couple instances, allows his personal views to interfere with his analysis. Still, the positives far outweight the negatives. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but those who are interested in the topic will definitely find it worth reading.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Galicius

    This book is currently (Feb 2017) discussed in the Catholic Thought group. All are welcome to join in the reading and discussion.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bob Bixby

    I was fascinated by this book. Written by a devout Roman Catholic for the Roman Catholic Church the book still delivered a lot of sociological data and insight that is helpful to anyone that works in Christian ministry outside of the Roman Catholic Church. I basically agreed with his analyses of trends and his assessment that the South will overtake the North in the realm of influence. Written before the ascension of the newest Pope this book has a prophetic tone to it that validates itself. A g I was fascinated by this book. Written by a devout Roman Catholic for the Roman Catholic Church the book still delivered a lot of sociological data and insight that is helpful to anyone that works in Christian ministry outside of the Roman Catholic Church. I basically agreed with his analyses of trends and his assessment that the South will overtake the North in the realm of influence. Written before the ascension of the newest Pope this book has a prophetic tone to it that validates itself. A good read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shana Scogin

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anian Christoph

  14. 4 out of 5

    Philip Martin

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brian Lane

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gene

  18. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Nunez

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stripemas

  20. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Higgins

  21. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Gothman

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leia Tijou

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stanley

  25. 5 out of 5

    Richard Biebel

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Esteban Diaz

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Jones

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mark Heishman

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alexander

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