Can the Vatican survive in our digital age?

The Catholic Church, accustomed to moving at the pace of centuries, seems lost in our global democratic culture dominated by a technologically fueled tabloid sensibility

Pope Benedict XVI makes his very first tweet, perhaps the most drawn out social media launch in its short history.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Osservatore Romano)

In the days since Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, we've heard abundant speculation about who will be chosen to succeed him and what that choice will mean for the future of the Roman Catholic Church and its billion-plus members around the world. Will the next pope hail from Europe, where the church is dying, or from the global South, where its future lies? Will he be a reformer like John XXIII, who convened the modernizing Second Vatican Council? Or a timid traditionalist like Paul VI, who in 1968 reaffirmed the church's ban on artificial birth control over the objections of the very theologians and scholars he'd convened to study the possibility of lifting it?

These are important questions. But they may turn out to be much less significant than the deeper question of whether the authoritarian institution of the Catholic hierarchy — from priests on up to the pope — can survive the democratic-populist forces of our technological age.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us