John Allen on Mega-Trends Print
Written by Michael Fones   
Tuesday, 03 April 2007 13:12
Last week I was back in the Seattle area to give a mission at Mary, Queen of Peace parish in Sammamish, WA. While there, I was invited by Zoltan Abraham, a pastoral associate there, to attend the Archdiocese of Seattle's Chrism Mass day lecture. It was given this year by John Allen, the Vatican correspondent of the National Catholic Reporter. He gave an overview of ten megatrends facing the Church and the world, and I found his presentation interesting and challenging. Although I didn't take notes, he mentioned, as far as I can remember:

1. the difference between the Catholic Church in the north and the Church in the south (south more biblically focused, rather than speculative theologically, more conservative morally and liberal politically [i.e., somewhat skeptical of free market capitalism])
2. the rise of Islam
3. the rise of Pentecostalism as the new second-largest Christian denomination
4. China
5. ecology (not just global warming, but more specifically the shortage of potable water in Africa, the middle East, China, India, Pakistan, etc.)
6. bioethics and the increasing rate of moral issues associated with scientific research
7. the turn of the Church to the world vs. a return to a "ghetto" mentality (this might have been part of another mega-trend)
8. the slowing of population growth worldwide and the grayby boom - the increase in the number of 65+ people in the American church (meanwhile 90% of the world's people under the age of 15(I think) live in the southern hemisphere...)
9. changes in the laity's involvement in governance.

I can't remember the other trend, and I might have a few of these wrong. However, his basic thesis is, "people who are trying to change the Church from the inside should focus instead on the Church's interaction with the world and world events." The mega-trends he's looking at will require changes in the Church; not in terms of structure, really, but in terms of our ability to respond to, interact with, anticipate and shape these mega-trends.

I sat next to Fr. Bryan Dolesji, one of the Institute's teachers, for the second part of the presentation. On several occasions we were jabbing each other in the ribs, because Mr. Allen's presentation highlighted the centrality of the work of the Institute in terms of addressing some of these mega-trends. We're a cutting edge organization!