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

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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 »

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 »