What the Editors Are Reading

Ross Douthat, who converted to Catholicism as a teenager, performed a great service to the Church when he wrote To Change the Church, his assessment of Pope Francis’s pontificate thus far.  Despite his many criticisms of Francis, Douthat avoids anger and bitterness, giving the Pope the benefit of every doubt and freely acknowledging that the future may end up vindicating him.  Douthat’s devotion to the Church is also evident throughout: He forthrightly declares, “I will die a Catholic,” and no less than Cardinal Dolan has declared that what drove Douthat to write this book was his love for both the Church and the current successor of Saint Peter.  What Douthat’s devotion has produced is a well-written, well-reasoned, and clear-eyed account of the Catholic Church today.

Douthat does not focus much of his attention on the Pope’s politics.  He even suggests that, early in his pontificate, Francis had the opportunity to wed left-wing economics with doctrinal rigor in a way that would have made the Catholic message more appealing in much of the world.  It remains true that Francis is less of a thoroughgoing leftist than his most vocal promoters within the Church.  But it is hard to disagree with Douthat’s conclusion that,

as the debate over communion for the divorced and remarried has proceeded, the...

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