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The Future Church

How Ten Trends Are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church

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Paperback published by Image (The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group)

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About This Book
One of the world’s foremost religion journalists offers an unexpected and provocative look at where the Catholic Church is headedand what the changes will mean for all of us.

What will the Catholic Church be like in 100 years? Will there be a woman pope? 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.


From the Hardcover edition.
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One of the world’s foremost religion journalists offers an unexpected and provocative look at where the Catholic Church is headedand what the changes will mean for all of us.

What will the Catholic Church be like in 100 years? Will there be a woman pope? 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.


From the Hardcover edition.
Product Details
Paperback (480 pages)
Published: January 24, 2012
Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
Imprint: Image
ISBN: 9780385520393
Other books byJr. John L. Allen
  • Opus Dei

    Opus Dei
    An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality...
    The first serious journalistic investigation of the highly secretive, controversial organization Opus Dei provides unique insight about the wild rumors surrounding it and discloses its significant influence in the Vatican and on the politics of the Catholic Church. Opus Dei (literally “the work of God”) is an international association of Catholics often labeled as conservative who seek personal Christian perfection and strive to implement Christian ideals in their jobs and in society as a whole. Founded in Spain in 1928, it now has 84,000 members (1,600 of whom are priests) in eighty countries. But far from running bingo nights at local parishes, Opus Dei has become a center of controversy and suspicion both within and outside the Church. It has been accused of promoting a right-wing political agenda and of cultlike practices, aggressive recruiting, brainwashing new recruits, and isolating members from their families. Its notoriety escalated with the publication of the runaway bestseller The Da Vinci Code (Opus Dei plays an important and sinister role in the novel) and with the previous pope’s much-debated canonization of its founder (often linked with Francisco Franco’s facist regime) and the discovery that convicted FBI spy Robert Hanson was a member of Opus Dei. With the expert eye of a longtime trusted observer of the Vatican and the skill of an investigative reporter intent on uncovering closely guarded secrets, John Allen finally separates the myths from the facts in Opus Dei. Granted unlimited access to the prelate who heads the organization and to Opus Dei centers throughout the world, Allen draws on a wealth of interviews with current members, as well as with highly critical ex-members, to create an unprecedented portrait of the activities, practices, and intentions behind its veil of secrecy. Allen reveals the remarkable power that Opus Dei commands in shaping Vatican policy and presents a detailed look at the full extent of its network, which includes people in key positions in politics, banking, academia, and other influential arenas. He even describes the arcane rituals—including self-flagellation—performed to preserve and promote a spiritual tradition strange and unsettling to modern sensibilities. For years, Opus Dei has been the subject of conspiracy theories and dark, uninformed speculation. Opus Dei sets the record straight.

    A People of Hope

    A People of Hope
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    One of the world's most respected religion journalists profiles New York's Archbishop Timothy Dolan, one of the country's—and possibly the world’s—most important Catholic leaders through lengthy exclusive interviews.   Unique among the current leadership of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Dolan shares his insightful perspective in this series of conversations on the present and future of Catholicism.  In these pages Dolan shares a perspective which is typically not part of the information an average person would know through today’s media.  This omission often leaves outsiders with a terribly flawed grasp of what’s actually happening in the Church.  Legitimate stories on, for example, abuse and Church authority can’t be dissolved by reactive conspiracy theories about how the media is out to get the Catholic Church. That said, if these scandals are all there is to the Catholic Church, why would anyone bother being Catholic? It may not be surprising that there are an estimated 22 million ex-Catholics out there, yet it is revealing that even more people have chosen to remain with the Church.  Tens of millions of Americans, and hundreds of millions more around the world, still turn to the Church for inspiration, for its sacramental life, for its experience of community and service. In every diocese in America you can find parishes that are flourishing. The faith represented there is not an exaggerated religious frenzy that feeds an uncritical view of the Church. Catholics are nothing if not sober realists about the humanity of their institutions and leaders.  They see the Church not as a debating society or a multinational enterprise, but a family—with all the flaws and dysfunction, but also all the joy and life, of families everywhere.  This is why Archbishop Dolan is such an important part of the Church’s emerging landscape. In A People of Hope Dolan is seen at his best, capturing an upbeat, hopeful, affirming Catholicism that’s the untold story about the Church today.  As readers spend time with Dolan here, they may find that his love for people and zest for friendship is what’s truly fundamental about the man, not a PR device calculated to conceal some other agenda. Dolan can and does draw lines in the sand when he believes that core matters of Catholic identity are at stake. He’s well aware that we live in a deeply secular world in the West, in which powerful pressures, both subtle and overt, seek to blur the counter-cultural message of Catholicism on many fronts. One key to Dolan’s character, however, is that changing hearts, not knocking heads, is always his first instinct. John Allen draws out a picture of future trends by exploring where Dolan wants to lead, and how will a Church that increasingly bears his imprint look and feel?  To understand this, what’s really necessary is to get inside his head and then let him speak for himself. To that end Allen frames questions in a way that allows Dolan to expand on the topic himself as much as possible. The result is a book more “with” Dolan than a book “about” him, which is indeed the best way to understand the man.  At the end, one can agree or disagree with Dolan’s outlook, but one may at least be better equipped to understand why thoughtful modern women and men might still believe there’s something worth considering in the Catholic message. Whatever the future may have in store for Dolan—staying in New York until he dies, being called to Rome to work in a senior Vatican post, or something else entirely—he will be a force in the Catholic Church both nationally and internationally for some time to come, and it’s well worth trying to discern what that might mean.  

    All the Pope's Men

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    The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks
    A fascinating and enlightening look at the world’s oldest and most mysterious institution, written by an American journalist with unparalleled knowledge about the Vatican's past and present. The sexual abuse scandals that shook American and British Catholicism in 2002 brought to light a long-standing cultural gap between the English-speaking Catholic world and the Vatican. In Rome, the crisis was often seen as an attack on the Church mounted by money-hungry lawyers, a hostile press, and liberal activists who used it as a way to turn attention on such concerns as celibacy, women’s ordination, and lay empowerment. When the Vatican struck down the U.S. bishops’ draft for handling allegations of sexual abuse, many saw it as an attempt to curb an independent American Catholic church. Yet, as time passed, it became clear that the Vatican’s well-founded concerns about due process were shared by most liberal U.S. bishops and canon lawyers. ALL THE POPE’S MEN is a lucid, in-depth guide to the sometimes puzzling, often incomprehensible inner workings of the Vatican. It reveals how decisions are made, how papal bureaucrats think, and how careers in the Roman Curia are shaped. It debunks the myths that have fed the distrust and suspicions many English-speaking Catholics harbor about the way the Vatican conducts its business, explains who really wields the power, and offers entertaining profiles of the personalities, historical and present-day, who have wielded that power for good and for bad. A thoughtful analysis of the recent sexual abuse crisis sheds light on how the Vatican perceives the Church in the United States. Balanced, lively, and filled with Vatican history and lore, ALL THE POPE’S MEN provides the general reader with an authoritative picture of the highly charged relationship between the Vatican and the richest, most influential national Catholic church in the world today. From the Trade Paperback edition.

    The Rise of Benedict XVI

    The Rise of Benedict XVI
    The Inside Story of How the Pope was Elected...
    From the author of Conclave and All the Pope’s Men comes the story of Pope John Paul II’s last days, the behind-the-scenes dynamics within the College of Cardinals that led to the choice of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. On April 18, 2005, the College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church gathered to elect a successor to Pope John Paul II. Faced with several potential candidates, the cardinals made a bold choice, entrusting the Keys of the Kingdom to 78-year-old Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, a man whose views on the challenges facing the Church and the broader culture could not be more unambiguous, or controversial. Questions arose as the world watched while Ratzinger was installed as Pope Benedict XVI, the 266th pontiff of the Catholic Church. Why Ratzinger? Why someone so clearly identified with the previous pope? Why not a “compromise” choice? Why a Cardinal from Western Europe and not from Africa or Latin America? What would this mean for the future of the Catholic Church? No one can tell the story of exactly what took place during the closed doors meeting, known as the conclave, when Cardinals from around the world cast their votes for the next pope, better than John L. Allen, Jr. As a correspondent for National Catholic Reporter and a Vatican analyst for CNN and National Public Radio, Allen has spent years covering Vatican politics and personalities, and his unique access to Roman halls of power has enabled him to write the ultimate behind-the-scenes account of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. The Rise of Benedict XVI is based on extensive research and exclusive interviews with eight cardinals representing five nationalities, guaranteeing readers an intimate glimpse into this monumental decision. But Allen’s insight also means that he is in a unique position to evaluate the accomplishments and legacy of the man now known as Pope Benedict XVI, and to provide some analysis of the direction he would take the Catholic Church in the coming years. Ratzinger’s long career as a major Vatican insider, force of influence, and occasionally polarizing figure, has ensured that his pontificate will be one of the most fascinating in the history of the Catholic Church. Benedict XVI would certainly have a major impact on the lives of the faithful around the world, and John Allen’s riveting new book is the definitive work on this turning point in history. From the Hardcover edition.

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