The College of Cardinals have chosen Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to become the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church. The Latin American Cardinal has taken the regnal name of Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi and becomes the first Pope in the history of the Catholic Church to originate from the Americas. The 76 year old Pope Francis is only two years younger than the age at which the former Pope Benedict XVI was elected pope, but 18 years older than Pope John Paul the predecessor of Benedict. Bergoglio is known to hold theologically conservative views and will likely maintain much the same positions as Benedict on social, political and ecclesiastical issues such as homosexuality, abortion, human rights and church policy.
In a February 11, 2013 press release, Author Eric Shuster predicted a papal conclave process that would provide a timely replacement and include little discussion of the major problems facing the Catholic Church in the modern era including a largely apathetic worldwide membership that is operating far under its spiritual potential. The conclave took less than 48 hours with the newly elected Pope reflecting the status quo of mainstream Catholic leadership. While millions of Catholics are likely to be excited about the election of a pope outside of the traditional European circle, many were hoping for a more transformational figure that would “stir things up” and give consideration to ways of increasing priesthood vocations including a married priesthood. While such a possibility was extremely remote, hope was strong that the new pontiff would more seriously address the Church’s traditional lack of emphasis on religious education, weak member involvement, and a paltry one Catholic priest to every 1,700 Catholics. Although Pope Francis may still make an effort to tackle such major challenges facing the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, leading indicators suggest he is not likely to rock the boat during his papacy and instead reflect the views of his peers who elected him.
In the forthcoming book “Where are the Christians: The Unrealized Potential of a Divided Religion,” author Eric Shuster reports on the issues facing the Catholic Church and how its apathetic membership affects the whole of Christianity. The book probes deep into the state of Christianity in America by looking at the history of Christianity, the clarity and confusion that defines the religion, the behaviors that characterize Christians, and how value-based unification among Christians can be increased into order to consolidate influence in communities around the nation. Shuster adds, “While the excitement of a Latin American pope is likely to energize the Catholic Church in places like Mexico and Brazil, the lack of a transformational leader will have little impact and influence on Christianity in America leading to the a continuance of unrealized potential among American Catholics.”
Eric Shuster’s new book, set for release on May 14, 2013, probes deep into the state of Christianity in America by looking at the history of Christianity, the clarity and confusion that defines the religion, the behaviors that characterize Christians, and how value-based unification among Christians can be increased into order to consolidate influence in communities around the nation. Shuster adds, “With a reenergized Catholic Church led by a transformational pope the impact and influence of Christianity in America can dramatically increase””this could lead to a third Great Awakening in the United States.”Eric Shuster is the executive director of the Foundation for Christian Studies (www.studychristianity.org), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study, teaching, and practice of Christianity in support of essential Christian values and compassionate service across the globe. He is a veteran of the information technology industry, and has held several executive positions in a variety of business disciplines, including CEO of IntelliClear, a global market research and business strategy firm. Mr. Shuster holds an industrial engineering management degree from San Jose State University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. Mr. Shuster’s first book, Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest (Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, 2009), was hailed by critics as a uniquely touching conversion story coupled with the best side-by-side comparison of Catholic and Mormon doctrine then available. His second book, The Biblical Roots of Mormonism (Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, 2010, coauthored with Charles Sale), provides a comprehensive review of Mormon doctrine using exclusively the Bible and has been heralded as delivering a unique theological perspective using a common scriptural platform for Mormons and non-Mormons alike. Mr. Shuster and his wife, Marilyn, have been married for 25 years and have several biological and adopted children. Learn more about Eric Shuster at www.ericshuster.com.