Magazine April 16, 2018, Issue

The Catholic Fracture

Pope Francis (center) during the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, October 2015. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)
To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism, by Ross Douthat (Simon & Schuster, 256 pp., $26)

With this new book, Ross Douthat has done a service to all those who take an interest in the life and teachings of the Catholic Church.

Douthat, a political columnist who writes for a mostly secular audience, is exquisitely careful in delineating the factional fault lines within the Church under Francis. He credits Francis with a surprising turnaround in the media’s perception of the Church, one that seemed impossible after the nadir of the child-sex scandals. But what motivates this book are not questions of politics or of media perceptions, but ones concerning theology: Does a pope have authority to change

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