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The Publisher's Desk

The Publisher's Desk

On the future of the Church.


Just as we were wrapping up the Easter 2023 edition of The Lamp this March, Pope Francis entered the tenth year of his pontificate. All over the world, Catholics and non-Catholics alike reflected on the last decade, which began so full of hope, and whose promise has been, for many, frustrated. Our editor argues (see page 19) that Francis’s most lasting legacy will not be any practice that he instituted or restricted, but rather a simple, moving act he performed in May 2020, as rain poured down on a completely shuttered Rome. At that time, Francis walked the streets, praying for the whole world, “reciting ancient prayers against plague while shrouded in an otherworldly blue light.” (For a less noble incident from 2020, see Peter Hitchens on John le Carré’s death on page 37.)

Reflections on the past almost inevitably lead to predictions about the future. Massimo Faggioli looks beyond Francis (see page 15) by considering a curious similarity he shares with his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Both popes, in their separate ways, allowed for the re-emergence of groups that were marginalized in the post–Vatican II consensus associated with Pope John Paul II, the Church’s version of Francis Fukuyama’s End of History. All of the questions that were thought answered in the middle of the last century are being asked again, and “understanding this new beginning of history is more important than any speculation about who is going to be the next pope.”

In both the Church and our families, recognizing the significance of the long succession of those who came before us can be a great tool for self-understanding, writes Eduard Habsburg-Lothringen (page 64). This is particularly true when coming to terms with the loss of a child (Maria Servold considers miscarriage on page 29 and Nic Rowan a predeceased sibling on page 23). But it is also applicable in many other circumstances: the meanings of our names (see Joseph Paul Barnas on page 13), of our professions (as Harrison Butker explains to Colm Flynn on page 7), and of our fellow Christians (as Father Hugh Barbour writes on page 25). The loss of this understanding leads to confusion and a forlorn longing that Aaron James (page 51) finds expressed so clearly in the early music of Philip Glass: “We love the modern world and we hate it; we find it inhuman and alienating but can’t imagine ourselves apart from it; we rebel against it only to find ourselves more securely tied to it than ever.”

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