Source Alert

Experts discuss Pope Francis’ reforms

From climate change to the church’s changing demographics, Francis has been engaging Catholics in new ways.

September 21, 2015

Contact: Andrew Good at (213) 740-8606 or or Emily Gersema at (213) 740-0252 or

Faith and science find common ground on climate change

“I think it’s very significant that a faith leader is appealing to common sense, and the best available science, in addition to their sacred text. It paves the way for a more rational debate within the faith community, which in the US is very stubbornly anti-science. Much of the science community hopes that the message will reach a much wider audience through Pope Francis than through the usual channels of scientific publication and the media, which has not proven effective at generating a population-wide consensus as absolute as the scientific consensus.”

Julien Emile-Geay is assistant professor of earth sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. He’s an expert in climate dynamics, drought and El Niño, and can discuss the impact of Pope Francis’ stand on the issue of climate change.

Contact at: (646) 644-9831or

A changing church for a changing world

“Mercy and forgiveness, along with concern for the poor and refugees, have been favorite themes of Pope Francis’ ministry. At least year’s synod on the family, a majority of the bishops supported streamlining the annulment process. Pope Francis followed through and did just that.”

Father James Heft is the Alton Brooks Professor of Religion at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. He’s an expert on Catholic history and doctrine, and can discuss many of the changes Pope Francis has enacted, as well as how they’ve been received by the church.

Contact at: (213) 321-1418 or

Shifting generational involvement in the Church

“Younger American Catholics who are still involved in the Church are likely to be motivated – and to view positively – the changes being advocated by Pope Francis. However, it is unlikely that his influence will either stem the tide of younger Catholics who are leaving the Church, or motivate those who have already left the church to return.”

Richard Flory is a research associate and director of research for the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at USC in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. He is the author of Finding Faith: The Spiritual Quest of the Post-Boomer Generation (2008), GenX Religion (2000) and a forthcoming book on the lives of Black, White, Hispanic and Asian teenagers in America. He directs the Religion, Culture and Politics Working Group at USC, which includes religion scholars from 20 universities in Southern California. He is currently writing two books, The Dream Center: A New Generation of Pentecostal Social Outreach (with Hebah Farrag) and Networks of Charisma: The Rise of the “Apostles” and the Decline of Denominations in the New Global Pentecostalism with Brad Christerson.

Contact at: (213) 740-2155 or