The New York Times–bestselling historian takes on a pressing question in modern religion: Will Pope Francis embrace change?
Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope and the first from the Americas, offers a challenge to his church. Can he bring about significant change? Should he?
Garry Wills, the Pulitzer Prize–winning historian, argues provocatively that, in fact, the history of the church throughout is a history of change. In this brilliant and incisive study, Wills describes the deep and serious changes that have taken place in the church or are in the process of occurring. These include the change from Latin, the growth and withering of the ecclesiastical monarchy, the abandonment of biblical literalism, the assertion and nonassertion of infallibility, and the erosion of church patriarchy. In such developments we see the living church adapting itself to new historical circumstances.
As Wills contends, it is only by examining the history of the church that we can understand Pope Francis’s and the church’s challenges today.
“A lively exercise in church history—history intended to orient us in the here and now. It is addressed not only to Catholics but to the entire church as ‘the People of God,’ . . . and to anyone else—practicing another religion or emphatically not—who is curious to learn how one of our foremost historians and public intellectuals understands his faith.” —The Chicago Tribune