The Once and Future World: Global Catholicism amid the Decline of the Liberal World Order

Author: Drew Christiansen

August 1, 2019

In this article, Rev. Drew Christiansen, S.J., examines the role of the Catholic Church in an increasingly illiberal order. After tracing the historical rise and fall of the liberal international order and Catholicism's relationship to it, Christiansen outlines five models for the Church in the coming years along with their potential pitfalls: the synodal model, in which bishops' synods would be strengthened to teach on social matters; the patriarchal model, in which regional patriarchates would be granted greater independence to address local issues; the prophetic model, in which the pope would take a greater role explicitly condemning existing social evils; the convenor model, in which Catholic leaders would seek to play a greater role in social issues by serving as mediators between increasingly conflictual blocs; and the servant church model, in which Catholics would take greater responsibility to address the harms caused by rising illiberalism through charities and other organizations. The core task of the Church, Christiansen concludes, is to find new ways to maintain its emphasis on the dignity of the human person. This article was published in the summer 2019 issue of the Journal of Catholic Social Thought. An abridged and adapted version of this article ran in the May 15, 2019, issue of La Civiltà Cattolica.

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