June 8, 2018 (333 words)
The Wanderer, a venerable Catholic newsweekly that’s been going to press since October 1867, has now had two of its regular contributors review the new Ross Douthat book on this troubling papacy of ours, To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism). But both these gentlemen appear to be completely unaware of Mr. Douthat’s work at his day job, as a weekly op-ed columnist for The New York Times.
That’s a shame, since Douthat can be counted among the first rank of social commentators currently plying their trade in the trenches of the culture war. And at a mere thirty-eight years-old, he qualifies as something of a boy wonder.
So how does an orthodox Catholic hold down a spot in the prestigious Sunday Review section at the ultra-liberal NYT? One theory is that Ross Douthat’s writing is so damn erudite, his editors frankly can’t figure out what he is describing most of the time.
But those same editors surely know good writing when they see it, since they manage to fill their paper with high-caliber correspondence on a daily basis. That Mr. Douthat is an eloquent wordsmith is beyond dispute. The man welds a deft pen. His ability to combine such erudition and eloquence with an easy-going style and a down-to-earth manner is not a common attribute, and marks him as a Catholic writer for the ages.
By all means, then, do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with this young man’s efforts. To read Ross Douthat is to love him. He can be counted on as a reliable guide for the concerned citizen who wishes to parse difficult issues from a Catholic perspective.
One final note: This recommendation is coming from a sixty-three year-old admirer who nevertheless reserves the right to politely disagree with what I believe is the rather harsh position toward the current papacy that Mr. Douthat stakes out in his new book.
Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr.
June 8, 2018