One of the most respected Vatican journalists in our time is John L. Allen. In a recent opinion article in National Catholic Reporter: The Independent News Source (online) Allen begins his February 24th editorial by writing:
As a thought exercise, ask yourself what period of time the following paragraph about the Vatican seems to reflect.
"For those who've seen the place in better days, the Vatican looks deeply troubled. In the absence of strong leadership, internal tensions seem to be bursting into view. Even at the height of his powers, the pope took scant interest in governance. As he ages and becomes more limited, a sense of drift is mounting -- a conviction that hard choices must await a new day, and probably a new pontiff."
You can read the entire, and very interesting, article here.
Most are agreed that John Allen, a critic of his church and often times of the papacy itself, is very fair-minded. It is, therefore, no accident that Allen's most recent book is a biography of the intellectual and spiritual life of one of America's most-respected Catholic bishops, newly consecrated Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Allen is almost always accurate in his use of facts. I've enjoyed a number of his books personally. This online article is clearly one of honest (and fallible) opinion. But I remind you that Catholics are encouraged to think and to form opinions just like Protestants. The magisterium does not end this process. Some would have you believe that everything a Catholic believes, and questions, has been decided by the Catholic Church (magisterially) and thus the believer's role is to simply submit without dialogue and debate. This is not the Catholic view at all. Those who have converted to Catholicism from evangelicalism often have a view of Rome that is not that of most of the Catholics I read or know personally. It is also not the actual view and practice of the Catholic Church itself. The Catholic Church is not a monolithic institution and the sooner all of us, Catholic and evangelical, understand this the better will be our mutual pursuit of unity in Christ's love.