Tuesday, September 26, 2017


I'm not making any firm predictions. Prognostications are not my strong suit. 

There is, though, a plausible trajectory regarding the church of Rome. Since Pius XII, it's been in process of becoming a mainline denomination. Francis has accelerated that process. The question is whether the trend is already irreversible.

The motivation has been around for a long time. The idea is that Christianity must adapt to survive. "Modern man" can no longer believe many things his backward, superstitious ancestors believed. This project has been around for a long time. For instance:

Bultmann was another notable exponent. These theologians are idealists. They don't think they are destroying Christianity, but saving Christianity. 

Francis has the support of some bishops, many priests, many Catholic academics. I don't know what percentage of the Roman episcopate supports his initiatives, but it's clearly significant. 

In addition, it's my impression that he's popular among the laity. Given that coalition, along with the inherent prerogatives of the papal office, he seems to be unstoppable. Question is how far he wants to go, how long he lives, and his successors. 

The church of Rome generally prefers an incremental strategy of stepwise compromise to major overnight changes. A softening up process. 

A minority of Catholics take doctrine seriously. By contrast, many Catholics aren't doctrinally oriented. They don't care about logical or historical consistency. In regard to that constituency, a pope can get away with dramatic reversals and contradictions, so long as his policies are deemed to be an improvement over the status quo ante.

From my observation, Catholics who are doctrinally oriented subdivide:

i) Some Catholic apologists, after initially defending Francis, have retreated into diplomatic silence.

ii) Apropos (i), some Catholics have lost hope in Francis, but refuse to openly oppose him. They've hunkered down, hoping his successor(s) will stem the tide. 

iii) Some Catholic apologists rubber-stamp whatever he says and does.

iv) Some conservative Catholics–especially converts–are openly critical of Francis. 

Whether his successors will lock in his initiatives, continue the process of modernism, or attempt to backtrack depends in part on the composition of the next papal conclave. To my knowledge, 75 is the mandatory retirement age for cardinals (indeed, for bishops generally), which gives Francis an opportunity to pack the College of Cardinals with theological soulmates if he can hang on for a few more years. Because bishops are already apt to be up in years when they are elevated to the cardinalate, there's rapid turnover in the College of Cardinals:

It's also striking that Francis was elected by a College of Cardinals, all of whom were appointed by hardline popes (John-Paul II, Benedict XVI). If a papal conclave with a more conservative composition elected Francis, it's hard to see how a papal conclave with a more liberal composition will elect a rightwing reactionary. However, some cardinals, even if they are sympathetic to the modernist agenda, may wish to avoid a bomb-thrower. Time will tell. 

Suppose in the next 50 years, give or take, the church of Rome becomes just another mainline denomination. By that I mean, its theology becomes essentially indistinguishable from the other mainline denominations (e.g. UMC, ELCA, ECUSA, PCUSA). That will precipitate a schism. 

On the one hand it will temporarily replenish the radtrad movement. However, that's a blind alley. 

On the other hand, charismatics have already siphoned off many Catholics. They lie in wait to absorb the influx of disaffected Catholics. (Of course, the charismatic movement is a swamp.)

A post-Catholic world will involve a major realignment, with evangelicals taking up some of the slack. Indeed, that process is already underway. 

Of course, evangelicalism is a soft identity that ranges along a political and theological continuum. However, the combined effect of Obama and Trump is to force fence-straddlers to go left. Theological "moderates" are rapidly shrinking. 

If the Roman church becomes a mainline denomination, it won't die overnight. Rather, it will slowly bleed to death. But the process of secularization can be rapid. Catholicism imploded in Quebec in one generation. The collapse was sudden because the culture was already so nominally Catholic. 


  1. The most probable scenario is further fulfillment of Our Lady's warnings from Fatima and Akita about apostasy in the Church (which was the reason why the Vatican covered up part of the Third Secret of Fatima which warned against apostasy in the Church starting at the top, possibly with explicit warning about Vatican II and the New Mass), as well as numerous other private revelations warning about material chastisement (possibly Three Days of Darkness predicted by numerous Catholic mystics) which will fall upon humanty as a result of this massive apostasy and unprecedent levels of depravity. After this we will see promised Consecration of Russia, followed by renewal of Catholicism, probably with condemnation of Vatican II and VII (anti?)Popes, and a brief period of peace. Many Protestant apologists use the current crisis in the Church as an argument about alleged rupture in Catholic teaching proving that Catholicism is false, but for many informed Catholics who live their faith none of these events come as a surprise, we have been warned many times prior to the V2 disaster. To the contrary, this proves truthfulness of Catholicism, as it is the Church which Satan tries so hard to destroy.

    1. It seems as if "Your Lady", 100 years ago, perfectly predicted the "Trump Colluded with Russia" scandal. Good job.

    2. The papists are already destroying themselves effectively enough without Satan's help. BTW how can there be a Catholic renewal upending V2 when it was an ecumenical council and therfore infLlibly guided into all truth? Just asking...

    3. First of all, it was probably not an Ecumenical Council, since it was called and promulgated by people who were probably anti-Popes (John XXIII and Paul VI respectively). Second, not everything in the Ecumenical Council is actually infallible - V2 did not define any new dogma. We had the example of Council of Constance which was called by an anti-Pope and partially nullified later. As to the renewal, it will most likely occur after material chastisement predicted in Fatima, Akita and numerous other private revelations.

    4. "...probably not an Ecumenical Council...probably anti-popes...most likely occur"? Are you saying that you don't know? If you can't know these things what can you be sure of? ISTM you are exercising private judgment over what a pope and council has promulgated; very Proddie, that.

      NO new dogma? How about running roughshod over extra ecclesiam nulla salus with Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate? Time for more private judgment.

    5. PS: if you can't tell if V@ is an ecumenical council, how can you trust the judgment of a later council which nullifies it; ie are they any surer than the V@ boys? Private judgment again.