Bishop Spong on the next pope: At best ‘you might get somebody who’s a closet liberal’

Retired Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong, a progressive theologian, talks with Current TV’s John Fugelsang about the state of the Roman Catholic Church as it seeks to elect a new pope. “I find it a really disturbing institution today, and that grieves me because if the Roman Catholic Church is weak, every Christian church is weak,” Spong says.

Fugelsang asks Spong whether it’s likely the next pope will be African or South American. “I don’t think [the church’s future] lies in Latin America or in Africa. I think those are important parts of the world, but the money that supports that institution is not in Asia or Latin America or Africa. It’s in Western Europe and in the United States. That’s the group that’s been most deeply alienated,” Spong answers.

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Review & Commentary

  • Linda Klinefelter

    I agree with Bishop Spong, the church missed its mark when they still refuse to look at the population they so deeply hurt. As a former Catholic, I find that one can live with his/her head for so long in the sand before it eventually sucks up the whole body. Pope Frances may come from simple means, but it doesn’t escape what has gone on in the church. If the church is going to grow and remain intack then dialogue will have to occur, sincere public apologies are given and a rallying of the troops; especially to women.

  • Sylvia

    Why on earth would anyone say that if the Catholic Church is weak, every Christian church is weak? That’s nonsense.

  • Katie Bortell

    I am a member of a Roman Catholic church on Long Island but currently attending an Episcopal church in my neighborhood, so clearly I see the need for change in the Catholic church. That said I don’t think anyone can say how Pope Francis will fair as bishop of Rome as not much is known about him other than his modest, simple, prayerful lifestyle. And who’s to say that as a direct result of Pope Francis not being American or European he won’t be at an advantage in handling this population? Perhaps he will be able to see things more clearly in these parts of the world specifically because he comes from Latin America; because he is not in the middle of these populations that are declining.
    And I take great offense at Bishop Spong calling the Catholic church a “really disturbing institution.” I know everyone is entitled to their opinion but even I, a cradle Catholic who is currently not content with her own parish, hopes things will improve for the Roman Catholic Church with the election of Pope Francis. Disturbing institution? Really?

    • Samantha

      It is “disturbing” when an institution discourges forward thinking and refuses to live in the present. This stifles creativity, spontaneous response to Spirit, and any liberal trend at all. Theology is not stagnant, anymore than God is stagnant. Refusal of the Roman Catholic clergy to consider that their thology may contain misunderstandings, misinterpretations and misreadings of sacred literatureis indeed disturbing. It means that the hierarchy of the RC church is in essence refusing to refresh/renew or otherwise engage in constructive criticism of itself through self-clarification and in growth toward what it could become. This is sad, as the RC church has so much to offer. I’m an Episcopalian and was reared high church. I have no problems with tradition unless it keeps a faith path – and those who follow it – stuck in the shadows of the 3rd cnetury AD. I believe I understand what Bishop Spong meant when he used the word “disturbing”. Please listen to him again, and perhaps discuss this video with the priest of the Episcopal church you now attend. Peace to you.