Growing up attending the “First Church of Hellfire and Damnation,” Joe Carter recounts that it wasn’t easy to warm up to Catholics, but the example of John Paul II quickly changed that. In today’s column he points to areas in which Evangelicals can learn something from Catholics—Marian theology, the sanctity of life, and ecclesiology.

I’m often amazed when I consider how much of my thinking is shaped by papist scholars’ writing about such issues as bioethics, social thought, natural law theory, and the Just War tradition. Although I do not always find myself in complete agreement with it, the Catholic perspective has caused me to rethink my views on such matters as contraception, in-vitro fertilization, just wages, and the death penalty.

And George Weigel offers reflections as he makes his way through Rome’s “station churches” this Lent, on the venerable custom, his forthcoming book on it, and on Pope Benedict’s newest Jesus of Nazareth title:
From at least the early fourth century, the Pope celebrated Mass during Lent with his clergy and the Roman Christian community at a designated “station” church. As Christianity became a more public faith, these “stations” were often basilicas built to honor Roman martyrs, constructed atop or around a former house church.

On Benedict XVI’s newest book, Weigel has few reservations about the sheer gravity of the pope’s scholarship:
Father Raymond de Souza has written that this second volume of the Pope’s projected three-volume masterwork on Jesus firmly establishes Joseph Ratzinger as the most learned man in the world. It’s a title the Holy Father would doubtless dismiss with his usual shy smile. A close reading of the book suggests that Father de Souza was not exaggerating.