JPII papal biographer and Catholic writer/speaker George Weigel makes a good point

Weigel, who is known for his biographical work on John Paul II’s life, centered his discussion on the late Pope’s visit to the Holy Land in 2000.

During his visit to the Holy Land, Pope John Paul II “wanted to carry the entire Church to the places of salvation history,” Weigel explained, so that the Church could viscerally encounter “the stuff of God become man, God entering into history for the salvation of the world.”

He explained that in the historical biblical places of the Holy Land “real people … became friends of Jesus of Nazareth and they met him at Easter and after as the risen Lord.”

From their friendship with Christ, “they went out to change the world.”

Pointing to the first Pope, Peter, Weigel noted that the apostle was “radically transformed” by his encounter with Christ and went from “a probably illiterate, probably smelly guy from east of nowhere, as the world then understood so,” to the first Pope and recipient of “the world’s greatest tombstone.”

“What the Catholic Church bears,” Weigel said “is the Truth of the World,” and it is this encounter with the Truth through Christ that transformed the world.

In order to re-introduce the world to the “Bible’s view of the human story,” he said, “John Paul II carried us all back to Jerusalem, back to the Holy Land.”

“He carried us back to the Holy Land,” so that we would be inspired and tell our story of “friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ.”

This reintroduction to “a biblical optic on the world, I think helps us to meet the challenge of coldness” in the world, Weigel continued.

A biblical worldview “helps us meet the challenge of unreality,”  posed by “a culture of a new gnosticism where everything is plastic and malleable, anything goes.”

However, even in the midst of challenging times, those who know Christ have reason to hope.

“Christians are the people who know how the story is going to turn out. Portrayed in the 21st chapter of Revelation, the end of the story, the end of the human story, is the wedding feast of the Lamb,” Weigel said.

“That is why we too, can be not afraid, and we to on with business as Pope John Paul taught us.”

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“We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”

See this and other “zingers” from George Weigel

Weigel: The days of Recreational Catholicism—Catholicism as a traditional, leisure-time activity absorbing perhaps ninety minutes of one’s time on a weekend—is over.

The challenge can be defined simply: Throughout the Western world, the culture no longer carries the faith, because the culture has become increasingly hostile to the faith. Catholicism can no longer be absorbed by osmosis from the environment, for the environment has become toxic. So we can no longer sit back and assume that decent lives lived in conformity with the prevailing cultural norms will somehow convey the faith to our children and grandchildren and invite others to consider entering the Church.

No, in our new situation, Catholicism has to be proposed, and Catholicism has to be lived in radical fidelity to Christ and the Gospel.

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George Weigel on the somewhat controversial John Paul II Beatification

(George Weigel was Pope John Paul II’s personal biographer.)

Responding to the skeptics and critics

1. Has the beatification of John Paul II been a rush job, as some have charged?

No one said that the beatification of Mother Teresa was rushed, despite the calumnies against her work and reputation promoted by Christopher Hitchens. This process hasn’t been “rushed” either. The only procedural exception Pope Benedict XVI made was the same exception John Paul II made for Mother Teresa: He allowed the investigation to begin without the normal five-year waiting period.

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The rise, dominance, and decline of a culturally accommodating Catholicism

The Bernardin Era is over and the Bernardin Machine is no more. Understanding what that era was about, and what that machine embodied, is important for understanding the options that have now been opened for a different pattern of episcopal leadership in the Catholic Church in the United States and a different mode of engagement between the Church and American public life.

The era and the machine reflected the background, the perspective on the U.S. Catholic experience, and the ecclesiastical and political convictions of the man for whom both epoch and network were named.

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The “Real” Church Militant


Search the current official Catholic Catechism and you will no longer find the term “Church Militant” … but we know it still exists … because that’s who we are!

The Church militant is the society of all the faithful still dwelling on earth. It is called militant, because it wages eternal war with those implacable enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil … from the Catechism of Trent (Circa 1902-1907).

Here’s one way this works:

John Paul’s role in the collapse of European communism is now generally recognized, but it does not seem well understood. He was not, pace Tad Szulc, a wily diplomat skillfully negotiating a transition beyond one-party rule in Poland. He was not, pace Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi, a co-conspirator with Ronald Reagan in a “holy alliance” to effect communism’s demise. He was not, pace the late Jonathan Kwitny, a Gandhi in a white cassock, running a non-violent resistance movement in Poland through a clandestine messenger service from the Vatican. Rather, John Paul shaped the politics of east central Europe in the 1980s as a pastor, evangelist, and witness to basic human rights.

Primary-source evidence for this is found in the texts of the Pope’s epic June 1979 pilgrimage to his homeland, nine days on which the history of the 20th century pivoted. In those forty-some sermons, addresses, lectures, and impromptu remarks, the Pope told his fellow-countrymen, in so many words: “You are not who they say you are. Let me remind you who you are.” By restoring to the Polish people their authentic history and culture, John Paul created a revolution of conscience that, fourteen months later, produced the nonviolent Solidarity resistance movement, a unique hybrid of workers and intellectuals — a “forest planed by aroused consciences,” as the Pope’s friend, the philosopher Jozef Tischner once put it. And by restoring to his people a form of freedom and a fearlessness that communism could not reach, John Paul II set in motion the human dynamics that eventually led, over a decade, to what we know as the Revolution of 1989.

Read more from George Weigel

George Weigel: Formerly Secret Documents Reveal Pope John Paul II’s Anti-Communist Strategy

A U.S. biographer of the late pope has now provided particulars of what he describes as the full-scale war by communism against the Catholic Church, and Pope John Paul’s astute and successful counter-strategy.

The Polish pope displayed political savvy and “a shrewdness that combined steadiness of strategic vision with tactical flexibility,” George Weigel told an audience of seminarians, diplomats and Vatican officials at the Pontifical North American College Jan. 9.

One of Pope John Paul’s moves, Weigel said, was to appoint as his own secretary of state Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the architect of the Vatican’s “Ostpolitik” efforts to reach workable compromises with communist regimes.

By doing so, the late pope “created tactical advantages for the church: As the pope preached moral revolution over the heads of communist regimes, speaking directly to their people, Casaroli continued his diplomacy, thus denying the communists the opportunity to charge that the church had reneged on its commitment to dialogue,” Weigel said.

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