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

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Campaign 2012: What Kind of Country Do You Want?

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In his speech to the Democratic National Convention, nominating President Obama for a second term, former president Bill Clinton said that the choice before America was a stark one: “What kind of country do you want to live in?” That’s exactly right. Do you want to live in an America with a robust array of legally protected civil society institutions, supported by volunteerism and charitable giving? … Continue Reading »

Campaign 2012: Economy and Empowerment

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In his 1958 book, Reflections on America, the great French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain (who took refuge in the United States during World War II) claimed that Americans, for all their commercial endeavors, “are the least materialist among the modern peoples which have attained the industrial stage.” Well, that was then, this is now, and it isn’t Jacques Maritain’s America anymore. Still, there remains a link between money-making and idealism in these United States that is distinctive, and perhaps even unique… . Continue Reading »

Vatican II’s Golden Anniversary

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The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, the most important Catholic event since the 16th-century Council of Trent, was solemnly opened by Pope John XXIII 50 years ago, on Oct. 11, 1962. Commentators ever since have taken that date as the beginning of the Catholic Church’s engagement with modern society and culture… . . Continue Reading »

Campaign 2012: America and the World

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The foreign policy debate in the United States has often been peculiar, in that it’s not infrequently about the United States rather than the world. Throughout history, other great powers have thought about world politics in terms of national interest. Americans typically think about the world through the prism of their image of America… . Continue Reading »

Campaign 2012: The Future of Marriage

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Back in the day, altar boys loved to serve weddings because it involved ready cash: minimally, $5 (which in those days meant something), often a ten-spot. Once in a great while, an exceptionally generous best man would slip each server an envelope with $25”a small fortune to a boy in the early 1960s… . Continue Reading »

Campaign 2012: Religious Freedom vs. Exclusive Humanism

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Some years ago, the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor coined the term “exclusive humanism” to describe a disturbing phenomenon in Western societies: the determination of some intellectuals, activists, and politicians to scour public life of transcendent religious and moral reference points in the name of “tolerance” and “inclusion.” … Continue Reading »

Campaign 2012: The Future of the Pro-Life Cause

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“It’s the economy, stupid!””James Carville’s memorable note-to-self during the 1992 presidential race”will be the determining factor in the 2012 campaign, according to the common wisdom. That may be true. But as Catholics consider their responsibilities between now and November 6, it would be good to remember that the future of the pro-life cause in America is also at stake… . Continue Reading »

Campaign 2012: Burke vs. Hobbes?

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You likely think, gentle reader, that the 2012 presidential race is a contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. That, of course, is true, insofar as the names on our Nov. 6 ballots go. But the 2012 race for the White House is something more, something more profound”something with deeper historical roots in modernity’s wrestling with political power and how that power contributes to the common good… . Continue Reading »

Another Coalition for Religious Freedom?

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In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, a broad, bipartisan coalition quickly formed to restore to federal law a robust understanding of religious freedom, which many believed Smith had severely attenuated. RFRA, as the bill was known (abbreviating its title, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act), passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a voice vote, was adopted 97-3 by the U.S. Senate, and was signed into law by President Clinton on Nov. 16, 1993, its rapid and overwhelming passage a testimony to the strength of the pro-RFRA coalition… . Continue Reading »

The Church and the Unions

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The defense of nascent trade unionism in late-nineteenth-century America is a bright chapter in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. When a nervous Vatican was prepared to write off trade unions as the kind of “secret societies” the Church had long opposed, Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore defended the Knights of Labor in Rome and forestalled a Vatican condemnation of American unions”an accomplishment that helped the Church retain the loyalty of working class people… . Continue Reading »