Where is Pope Francis leading the Catholic Church?
by Nick Eicher
Posted on Friday, April 15, 2016, at 1:50 pm
Each week, The World and Everything in It features a “Culture Friday” segment, in which Executive Producer Nick Eicher discusses the latest cultural news with John Stonestreet, president of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Here is a summary of this week’s conversation.
Catholic conservatives recoiled this week after Pope Francis issued a new letter on marriage and family. The pope set out to address several issues, including marriage, divorce, homosexuality, contraception, and “gender ideology.” Although Francis did not explicitly say divorced and civilly remarried Catholics should be allowed communion, he seemed to signal a path for priests to offer communion at their discretion.
Ross Douthat of The New York Times called the pope’s statement a slippage of confidence in his own church’s theological principles. This week, John Stonestreet and I discussed whether the Catholic Church is on a downward slide away from morality similar to what U.S. mainline Protestanism experienced.
“I think the Catholic Church has a long way to go before it becomes like mainline Protestantism has gone,” Stonestreet said. “When mainline Protestantism was doing its slide, it did not have the robust understanding of authority and church history that the Catholic Church has had.”
Catholics also have strong leadership from conservative priests and bishops in Africa and South America who can try to stem the pressures of postmodernism on the church.
“I’m not saying that there’s not an issue here,” Stonestreet said, agreeing with Douthat, who wrote that the pope’s letter “carries a distinctive late-Marxist odor—a sense that the church’s leadership is a little like the Soviet nomenklatura, bound to ideological precepts that they’re no longer confident can really, truly work.”
“That rings true as I look at what the pope is saying from the outside,” Stonestreet said.
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