Divided church

Today the Roman Catholic Church in the United States is on the verge of either an irreversible decline or a thoroughgoing transformation” is the topic sentence of Peter Steinfels’s extraordinarily valuable survey of the present state of America’s largest Christian community. The only caveat one might make on Steinfels’s stark prophecy is that there may well be “thoroughgoing transformation” and “irreversible decline.” This pessimistic conclusion can be derived from Steinfels’s own account of the ideological crosscurrents—riptides might be a better metaphor—roiling Catholic waters and leaving the “people adrift.”


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