National Catholic Reporter’s long-time Vatican correspondent, John Allen, in his recently published The Future Church: How Ten Trends Are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church, points to the rise of evangelical Catholicism. “The defining features of evangelical Catholicism are,” Allen summarizes, “a clear embrace of traditional Catholic thought, speech, and practice, the usual word for which is ‘orthodoxy’; eagerness to proclaim one’s Catholic identity to the world, emphasizing its implication for culture, society, and politics; faith seen as a matter of personal choice rather than cultural inheritance.”
Note that each of these books makes some use of the word “evangelical.” That is the word central to the remarkable renewal that is now reshaping American Catholicism, as the new century turns to its second decade. We are witnessing the opening of a great evangelical era in American Catholicism.
The brief history of American Catholicism is this: mission, persecution, immigration, community, political power, strength, Vatican II, confusion, decline, scandal, confession, penance, and renewal. A new cycle of mission, persecution, immigration, community, political power, and strength has begun. Provided the reformed American Church remains steadfast in its renewed commitment to “orthodoxy,” all will not only be well, it will be a spectacularly vibrant and wonderful era for the Church in the new world.