George Weigel is distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

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A Benedict XVI Epiphany

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The solemnity of the Epiphany typically gets short shrift in Latin-rite Catholicism, for while Eastern Christianity lifts up the Epiphany as the apex of the Christmas season, Epiphany in the Western Church tends to get overwhelmed by the tsunami of Christmas, both liturgically and (especially) culturally… . Continue Reading »

A Pastoral Opportunity Lost?

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At their annual November meeting, the U.S. bishops failed to approve a pastoral message on the economy. “The Hope of the Gospel in Difficult Economic Times” was approved by a clear majority of the bishops voting, but objections raised in large part by retired bishops were sufficient to deny the document the supermajority it needed. All of which strikes me as a lost opportunity… . Continue Reading »

Christmas: Cure for Cynicism and Irony

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In a sermon broadcast on the BBC on December 25, 1950, Monsignor Ronald Knox observed that “we make a holiday of Christmas only if we have the strength of mind to creep up the nursery stairs again, and pretend that we never came down them.” In my case, the stairs in question led, not to a nursery, but to the children’s bedroom I shared with my brother at 1 Regester Avenue in the Baltimore suburb of Rodgers Forge… . Continue Reading »

Books for Christmas: ‘12 Edition

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The most intellectually exciting book I read this past year was Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Eerdmans). Unfolding his research like a detective story and deploying the most contemporary scholarship on what actually counted as “history” in the ancient world, Professor Bauckham makes a powerful case that the gospels may in fact put us in touch with those who knew the Lord, and certainly put us in touch with those who knew those who knew the Lord. Give it to any priest or deacon you know who preaches out of the “that didn’t really happen”/historical-critical playbook; but get yourself a copy, too… . Continue Reading »

The Abuse Plague Is Universal

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A startling sexual abuse scandal recently broke out in Great Britain. The villain was the late Sir Jimmy Savile, a celebrated (if talent-free) BBC disc jockey and children’s TV-show host who, it turns out, serially abused young women for four decades”perhaps as many as a thousand girls, according to investigators from Scotland Yard, one of the fourteen police jurisdictions digging into his crimes. … Continue Reading »

Sacred Language for Sacred Acts

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It was just about a year ago that U.S. parishes began using the new translations of the third edition of the Roman Missal”an implementation process that seems to have gone far more smoothly than some anticipated. Wrinkles remain to be ironed out: There are precious few decent musical settings for the revised Ordinary of the Mass … . Continue Reading »

Two Hundred Years Behind What?

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Eighteenth-century British Jacobites wistfully toasted “the king over the water,” referring to exiled King James II, his successors, and the Jacobite hope for a Stuart restoration to the throne of the United Kingdom. Throughout the pontificate of John Paul II, the cardinal archbishop of Milan, Carlo Maria Martini, S.J., was a kind of “king over the water” for Catholics of the portside persuasion”the pope who should-have-been and might-yet-be… . Continue Reading »

The Crisis of a Second Obama Administration

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President Obama’s re-election and the prospect of a second Obama administration, freed from the constraints imposed by the necessity of running for re-election, have created a crisis for the Catholic Church in the United States. In the thought-world and vocabulary of the Bible, “crisis” has two meanings: the conventional sense (a grave threat) and a deeper sense (a great moment of opportunity). Both are applicable to the Church in America these next four years… . Continue Reading »

The ‘Word of the Lord’ in English, Please

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Biblical translation is an inexact science: a truth of which I was reminded on a recent visit to the American Bible Society’s Museum of Biblical Art in New York, where I enjoyed a brisk walk through a fine exhibit, “More Precious than Fine Gold: The English Bible in the Gilded Age.” The curator, Dr. Liana Lupas, pointed out that the Modern American Bible, a New Testament translation by Frank S. Ballentine, was published as the nineteenth century was drawing to a close… . Continue Reading »