What Happened to the Roman Catholic Church? What Now? is a radical criticism of the Roman Catholic Church combined with some radical suggestions for dealing with its problems. The book is rooted in the tradition of the Church that the author draws upon in a creative way. The first three chapters trace the history of the Roman Catholic Church from 1945 to the crucial period of the 1960s. The remaining nine chapters examine various issues that surfaced after the partial reforms of the Second Vatican Council in 1962-65, By the mid-1970s, the Church had become badly split and the rift has never been healed. Millions of Roman Catholic who were disappointed at the direction that the Church took have ceased to be practicing members. Many people are skeptical about the Church's future. A positive attitude toward the Church that Pope Francis has generated has been
largely obscured by the clergy sex-abuse scandal. This problem requires some profound examination of the structure of the Church. The author proposes a way to retain the function of priesthood while eliminating a clerical class. The heart of the book is that the basis of the Church's teaching are two concepts, revelation and natural law, that are badly in need of historical and philosophical criticism. Revelation is seldom examined because of the widespread assumption that it was made clear at the Second Vatican Council. The author contends that the Council never faced the question of what divine revelation is, where it came from and the limitation of its meaning today. The Church's use of the concept of natural law needs much better historical and philosophical study than is provided by the Catholic writers on the subject. These two concepts are central to the official positions of the Roman Catholic Church on abortion, homosexuality and end-of-life issues that are discussed in the book. In proposing organizational changes, the author starts from descriptions of the earliest church. It was a group of men and women who shared a special meal, listened to stories and writings about their founder, and did works that served the physical and spiritual needs of people. The hallmark of the church was community but as the church spread quickly and attracted many converts the sense of community was difficult to retain. This book examines the nature of community before proposing how the Church could be a community of communities. The last chapter of the book describes a democratic form of the Church
which was not possible for most of history but is now both possible and necessary.