A Reader Wonders if We are at the End of the Counter-Reformation

He writes:

I have a thought I’d like to share with you. It seems to me that Pope Francis represents a break – a change – in the direction of the church. Not in doctrine or dogma (that’s guaranteed by the Holy Spirit), but rather in focus. Is it possible that in Francis we have seen the definitive end of the counter-reformation and the beginning of a new evangelical era?

I have the sense that Vatican II was the other bookend to the council of Trent and that JPII and BXVI were great gifts to the church who shored up the teaching from Vatican II and set the foundation for the next era. But, there is something new about Pope Francis – a boldness, a perhaps conviction that the secular ideologies and anti-clericalism of the 20th century and the Protestant antipathy towards the Church are spent forces, allowing him to focus (as JPII would say) on the anthropological crisis that these historical threads have brought through the vigorous proclamation of the Gospel.

I’m struggling a bit here, as you can see. I sense something new, but I can’t put my finger on it. Care to comment?

I think there’s something to this, though I would add that this seem to be a function of his personal charisms rather than a shift that begins with him. Vatican II is the real turning point in the ending the Counter-Reformation, I reckon. Since then we’ve seen popes and the Magisterium (and lots of the rest of the Church) grappling with how to bring the Church out of defense mode and into playing offense and resuming the task of evangelization rather than hunkering down in the bunker. JPII was an intensely evangelical pope too. But it is clear that Francis, as you observe, seem to be bringing something different somehow. The Church is, I think definitively, find her feet as a missionary enterprise again with this guy. I have great hopes for what the future will bring in the global mission field.


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