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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Roeser: While not all homosexuals are same-sex pedophiles, all same-sex pedophiles are homosexuals.

Allen contrasts two views—Benedict’s and that of Dominican priest Thomas Doyle who has been studying the crisis for years.  Benedict is indubitably right.  He goes straight to the heart of the problem—in “priestly formation” i.e. the theology taught in seminaries and lays the blame where it belongs on the heretical dogma of relativism which by downplaying good and evil and in Allen’s words “treating morality as a matter of weighing consequences” the door was opened to “justifying gravely immoral behavior including the sexual exploitation of minors.”   Allen you see ran a seminar on the issue with George Weigel.

Read Tom Roeser’s article

Read John Allen’s Article

George Weigel’s Observations

A Christmas Book Sampler

Dec 15, 2010
by George Weigel

A number of fascinating books that haven’t received all that much attention, but richly deserve it, have crossed my desk in recent months. Each would make a fine Christmas gift to someone on your list who likes to think outside the box.

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George Weigel takes renegade theologian Hans Kung to task for lying about role of then Cardinal Ratzinger

… I must, in all candor, tell you that you crossed a line that should not have been crossed in your recent article, when you wrote the following:

There is no denying the fact that the worldwide system of covering up sexual crimes committed by clerics was engineered by the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Ratzinger (1981-2005).

That, sir, is not true. I refuse to believe that you knew this to be false and wrote it anyway, for that would mean you had willfully condemned yourself as a liar. But on the assumption that you did not know this sentence to be a tissue of falsehoods, then you are so manifestly ignorant of how competencies over abuse cases were assigned in the Roman Curia prior to Ratzinger’s seizing control of the process and bringing it under CDF’s competence in 2001, then you have forfeited any claim to be taken seriously on this, or indeed any other matter involving the Roman Curia and the central governance of the Catholic Church.

As you perhaps do not know, I have been a vigorous, and I hope responsible, critic of the way abuse cases were (mis)handled by individual bishops and by the authorities in the Curia prior to the late 1990s, when then-Cardinal Ratzinger began to fight for a major change in the handling of these cases. (If you are interested, I refer you to my 2002 book, The Courage To Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform, and the Future of the Church.)

I therefore speak with some assurance of the ground on which I stand when I say that your description of Ratzinger’s role as quoted above is not only ludicrous to anyone familiar with the relevant history, but is belied by the experience of American bishops who consistently found Ratzinger thoughtful, helpful, deeply concerned about the corruption of the priesthood by a small minority of abusers, and distressed by the incompetence or malfeasance of bishops who took the promises of psychotherapy far more seriously than they ought, or lacked the moral courage to confront what had to be confronted.

I recognize that authors do not write the sometimes awful subheads that are put on op-ed pieces. Nonetheless, you authored a piece of vitriol—itself utterly unbecoming a priest, an intellectual, or a gentleman—that permitted the editors of the Irish Times to slug your article: “Pope Benedict has made worse just about everything that is wrong with the Catholic Church and is directly responsible for engineering the global cover-up of child rape perpetrated by priests, according to this open letter to all Catholic bishops.” That grotesque falsification of the truth perhaps demonstrates where odium theologicum can lead a man. But it is nonetheless shameful.

Permit me to suggest that you owe Pope Benedict XVI a public apology, for what, objectively speaking, is a calumny that I pray was informed in part by ignorance (if culpable ignorance). I assure you that I am committed to a thoroughgoing reform of the Roman Curia and the episcopate, projects I described at some length in God’s Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church, a copy of which, in German, I shall be happy to send you. But there is no path to true reform in the Church that does not run through the steep and narrow valley of the truth. The truth was butchered in your article in the Irish Times. And that means that you have set back the cause of reform.

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George Weigel on Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor

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Flannery O’Connor’s relentless, faith-driven unsentimentality extended to the Church as well as to the world: “I think that the Church is the only thing that is going to make the terrible world we are coming to endurable; the only thing that makes the Church endurable is that it is somehow the body of Christ and on this we are fed. It seems to be a fact that you have to suffer as much from the Church as for it…” And this, mind you, was written in 1955—to certain Catholic minds, the high water mark of Catholic life in these United States. One can only imagine what Flannery O’Connor would say today.

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Check out O’Connor’s work at Amazon.com

Obama’s Notre Dame speech tried to redefine U.S. Catholicism, George Weigel charges

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Weigel, writing in a Monday essay for National Review Online, said it was “surprising” and “disturbing” that President Obama decided to “insert himself” into “the ongoing Catholic debate over the boundaries of Catholic identity and the applicability of settled Catholic convention in the public square.” He said President Obama tried to settle “the decades-long intra-Catholic culture war” in favor of one faction: “the faction that had supported his candidacy and that had spent the first months of his administration defending his policies.”

In an exclusive comment to CNA, Weigel compared the effort to the historical phenomenon of “Gallicanism,” the French bishops’ past efforts to establish a church generally independent of papal authority.

“This is a very serious business, with the president of the United States putting himself in charge of the Gallican wing of the Catholic Church in the United States — the difference being that this new Gallicanism isn’t local bishops vs. Rome but intellectuals and their institutions and magazines vs. local bishops and Rome,” Weigel told CNA.

Weigel said that the “politically savvy” White House and its allies among Catholic progressive intellectuals may have intended to secure Obama’s political advantage among Catholic voters with his appearance at Notre Dame.

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