Popes

For Immediate Release: November 16, 2015
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.net - 207-358-9785

Can the Catholic Church Keep Up with a Changing World? Three Critical Views in Free Inquiry


The Catholic Church is changing, but is it changing quickly enough to remain relevant? In the latest issue of the secular humanist magazine Free Inquiry, three scholars take a critical look at Pope Francis and his efforts to modernize the church, which has made genuine progress in terms of the acceptance of science and climate change and yet as an authority for morality is still very much in the Dark Ages.

Ethicist Daniel C. Maguire, author of Christianity Without God, uses Ivan Karamazov’s worries about a godless universe as a framework to expose the core of Catholicism’s crisis: the delusion that humanity has a supernatural being to turn to for our moral foundations. “The idea of God as an indulgent parent who will clean up the mess left by our profligacy is a bad symbol,” writes Maguire. “It deserves to die.”

Hector F. Sierra , an economist with the World Bank, is the most hopeful, reading from Francis’s recent environmental encyclical not just an acknowledgment of the crisis of climate change but a “a brand new ecological theology,” noting the Pope’s rejection of the idea of “man’s absolute dominion over Earth.” Despite the Pope’s neglect of crucial climate change factors such as contraception and birthrates, Sierra believes that the encyclical can be “a strong foundation for common action with nonbelievers.”

Religion scholar Leah Mickens looks back to a previous Pope’s declarations, John Paul II’s “Gospel of Life,” and exposes the contradictions and inconsistencies that permeate the Catholic Church’s “culture of life” stance. Staunch opposition to abortion and contraception, writes Mickens, is not the same as placing a high value on human beings’ quality of life and ability to reach their potential. “The culture of life is antithetical to building a society that encourages human flourishing.”

Special to this issue: The final column by Ronald A. Lindsay as president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry, copublisher of Free Inquiry. Lindsay chooses to focus on the subject of hope for his last editorial, contrasting the religious view that hope can be found only when we “turn our gaze upward” with the secular humanist view that encourages human beings to create the conditions for hope themselves, “a hope that is not based on fantasy but on the solid ground of human determination and achievement.”

Plus : Free Inquiry Editor Tom Flynn warns of Turkey and India’s recent “lurch toward the abyss of theocracy”; James A. Haught looks back at the “Satanist scare” of the 1980s and 1990s; David Koepsell challenges the idea that happiness is the highest ideal to strive for; Ophelia Benson wrestles with often-misunderstood conceptions of “identity”; and much more.

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Free Inquiry is a bimonthly magazine, published by the Center for Inquiry, in association with the Council for Secular Humanism, featuring thoughtful and provocative commentary from such leading political and social commentators as Arthur Caplan, Greta Christina, Nat Hentoff, and Russell Blackford. Launched in 1980, Free Inquiry has a paid circulation of approximately 34,000 worldwide.