Catholic Changes: Are ‘Priests … A Failed Tradition’? THE COVER to visit the book’s Amazon page.

This week, columnist Terry Gallagher is writing the OurValues series …

SINCE POPE BENEDICT XVI’S “renunciation” last week, many Catholics (and former Catholics and non-Catholics), have expressed hope that his successor will be a “good pope.”

They mean someone like John XXIII, the immensely popular and beloved pope who called Vatican II together 50 years ago to “to throw open the windows of the church, so that we can see out and the people can see in.”

But Garry Wills, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and devout Catholic, says he’s given up hope for a good pope. The church’s power structure will maintain its monarchical traditions, no matter the desire for change among the faithful.

“Wistful Catholics hope that on (contraception) and other matters of disagreement … a new pope can remedy that discord,” Wills wrote in the New York Times last week.  But he points out that the new pope will be elected by men who were appointed because of their loyalty to those positions, giving “the election of new popes the air of watching Charlie Brown keep trying to kick the football, hoping that Lucy will cooperate.”

In an interview on the Diane Rehm NPR show last week, Wills discussed his most recent book, Why Priests? A Failed Tradition, which came out just days before Benedict’s announcement.

“The Vatican is such an insult to Jesus, to the gospel,” Wills said. “It’s a great fortress with a great palace, with great treasures, an idolatrous ‘you are Peter’ everywhere and the family arms of various popes everywhere. It’s a bastion of earthly power that flies in the face of everything Jesus said.”

Are you hoping for a “good pope”?

Or is it too late?

Please, leave a Comment below.

Originally published at, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.

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