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"What not only will the Church be but what will it do in the modern world?" More than thirty years since Vatican II, the Church is still struggling to find an answer to this question. The image that believing and non-believing contemporaries have of the Church remains unsettled. But the world too presents a troubling image. For centuries two fundamental views of reality, "hierarchy" and "modernity," have not been reconciled. The Church appears committed to the first, the world to the second. However, the growing separation between Church and world has been criticized as the "end" of both modernity and Western Christianity. Lafont states that since many Churches, including the Catholic Church, have not resolved the problem of articulating a synthesis between modernity and religious life and belief, we are left with modernity void of any openness to transcendence and a Christianity too timid to take into account the true depth of the human person. The result is that both have become alienated from each other, a mutual "falling away" that threatens the future of both humanity and Christianity. In response to this crisis, the Church is challenged to offer a renewed image and to speak credibly, without sacrificing the Gospel message. In this way, the Church not only fulfills its task of evangelization, but it offers some remedy to its contemporaries in the face of the insecurities of modernity. In Imagining the Catholic Church Lafont focuses on this new evangelization. He analyzes the secular conflict between modernity and hierarchy, and then defines why during the last millennium, the Catholic Church has preserved its institutions in spite of far-reaching social changes. He also shows how Vatican II faced the challenge of the conflict and envisioned a new approach, a theological and spiritual vision that encompassed both the Church and the world. Finally, he engages our theological and canonical imaginations in an effort to create useful recommendations for the areas troubling Christians today, such as the state of marriage; the problem of divorce; the relative autonomy of religious life in the Church; local initiatives regarding mission, catechesis, and liturgy; the freedom of theology; episcopal collegiality; the reform of the electoral processes for the papacy and the episcopacy; priestly celibacy; the proper extent of the magisterium; and the reform of the exercise of papal primacy. For Christians caught up in the crises of our day, Lafont presen
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