Gerald O’Collins SJ
This article looks at the current state of the Catholic Church worldwide and the challenges it faces. Gerald O’Collins SJ is adjunct professor of Austalia Catholic University and author or co-author of over sixty books.
The famous words with which Charles Dickens opened A Tale of Two Cities focus the feelings of many about the present state of the Catholic Church around the world. As we move further into the third millennium, those who take an active role in Catholic dioceses and parishes, teach and study in Catholic schools and colleges, administer and work for Catholic hospitals, or in many other ways share closely in the life of the Church constantly face the best of news and the worst of news.
They may be comforted by the news from the Vatican’s Central Office for Church Statistics that in the decade up to March 2016, Catholics in Asia rose by 20% and in Africa by 41%. Many rejoice at Pope Francis’ efforts to make leadership in the Church correspond more closely to the global reality of Catholicism. When he was elected in March 2013, over 60% of the cardinals who entered the conclave came from Europe or North America.