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The last decade has been challenging for American Catholics as scandals and apathy have rocked the Church. The energy generated by Pope Francis's new approach has galvanized many, but the statistics are still bleak. But are the statistics the whole story?

Essays address the current realities in the Church and focus on the cultural trends that jeopardize faith, the hope of spiritual revitalization, and the possibilities of new vocations, of young leadership, and of radical choices for authentic discipleship.

This topic is part of our summer symposium on the Future of Faith in America. For more resources visit our Future of Faith main page.


Featured Panelists

A Poorer, Younger Church of Great Promise

A Poorer, Younger Church of Great Promise

Matthew Bunson

Marginalized and denigrated in the West, the Church of the future will identify more closely with the poor in the midst of Europe's likely twilight.

Catholicism Faces a Heavy Future, Full of Light

Catholicism Faces a Heavy Future, Full of Light

Kelley Cutler

It's an exciting time to be a Catholic anarchist. Despite the constant bad news, I am hopeful because I see we are in a time of transition.

The Future Clergy: Smelling Like Sheep?

The Future Clergy: Smelling Like Sheep?

Deacon Greg Kandra

I think it's fair to say we're in for some surprises, and we'll be seeing men in high places with diverse priorities and personalities.

Watching the Birds: Catholicism's New Missionary Era

Watching the Birds: Catholicism's New Missionary Era

Tim Muldoon

The cultural expressions of ritual can sometimes overshadow what is fundamentally an invitation by a loving God to make the world beautiful.

The Power of the Pope's Witness, the Need for Ours

The Power of the Pope's Witness, the Need for Ours

J. Peter Nixon

The pope may have stopped the bleeding. But whether the patient returns to health has more to do with the patient than the doctor.

A Former Atheist's Take on the Future of the Church

A Former Atheist's Take on the Future of the Church

Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

My time outside of the Church helped me to see that God is active in everyone's life. There is something to learn from everything, even a sick culture.

The New Evangelization in Reverse?

The New Evangelization in Reverse?

Michael Novak

Catholic teaching of our faith appears to be in retreat, voiceless, almost invisible.

The Gift of the Millennial Catholic to the Church

The Gift of the Millennial Catholic to the Church

Timothy O'Malley

We bemoan the absence of millennials in the Church only to pass over the remarkable millennials already in the Church.

Truth Has a Way of Getting Out

Truth Has a Way of Getting Out

Stef Patag

While modernity and technology may continue to erode our relationships, there are those of us who will continue to spread the Gospel where we are.

New Growth May Bring New Reconciliation

New Growth May Bring New Reconciliation

Sister Mary Catharine Perry, OP

From the cloister, the future looks encouraging. Monastic houses are being inundated with inquiries from all over the world.

The Scandal of Catholicism and Its Radical Future

The Scandal of Catholicism and Its Radical Future

Sam Rocha

When the Church's future is treated as a question for social scientists, the answer has very little to do with Catholicism itself.

Catholicism's Future: Love and Mercy, with Scoldings

Catholicism's Future: Love and Mercy, with Scoldings

Elizabeth Scalia

Who are people more likely to call a "scold," Pope Francis or Pope Benedict?

More Catholic, Less American

More Catholic, Less American

Matthew Schmitz

The Christian life is a matter of prayer, not prediction; it is defined neither by optimism nor pessimism but by hope.

Stop Evangelizing Through the Courts and the Legislature

Stop Evangelizing Through the Courts and the Legislature

Pia de Solenni

The catechesis and evangelization needed to happen a long time before the ballot initiative, or whatever current catalyst.

The Future of Gay Catholics

The Future of Gay Catholics

Eve Tushnet

Being in the middle of a cultural uproar—being a human shibboleth—can drain your faith away. But I do think our noisy future is better than our covert past.

The Catholic Church in America: Persevering Through Uncertainty With Hope

The Catholic Church in America: Persevering Through Uncertainty With Hope

Kerry Weber

I'm sticking with a loving, global, imperfect church.

American Catholics: Intentional or Missing in Action

American Catholics: Intentional or Missing in Action

Sherry Weddell

Many are wrestling with the practical implications of the fact that the majority of our baptized population — even our leadership — are not yet disciples.

Commentary From Our Blogging Community

Regardless of Warnings, The Future Doesn’t Scare Me At All

Regardless of Warnings, The Future Doesn’t Scare Me At All

Monique Ocampo

Looking into the future of the Catholic Church is a lot like somebody wondering if they’ll ever find love again after a series of heartbreaks. It doesn’t seem like any good will come with all of the persecution, the indifferent (at best) or hostile (at worse) politics and entitled brats that populate the majority of [Read More...]

Where Are You Going, Catholic Church?

Where Are You Going, Catholic Church?

Jennifer Fitz

Patheos is hosting a symposium on “The Future of Faith in America” and you can read the Catholic highlights at Elizabeth Scalia’s place.  I don’t do predictions, but I do like strategy, so let’s talk about that. We Have Everything Going For Us If we want it, the Catholic faith could be on the verge of [Read More...]

The Future of the Catholic Church is the Same as Its Past

The Future of the Catholic Church is the Same as Its Past

Rebecca Hamilton

Ok, so I’m the daughter of a mechanic, the granddaughter of a laborer who at one time dug ditches and was glad for the work on one side of my family, and a real-life horse-breaking, cattle-branding cowboy on the other. My great-grandfathers were farmers and blacksmiths. Cherokee blood flows in my veins from a time [Read More...]