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

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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 »

Five Great Motets

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The Church’s liturgy has inspired great choral music for centuries. Unfortunately, that part of Catholicism’s cultural memory has been somewhat misplaced in recent years. One reason why is the widespread misapprehension among liturgists that 21st-century congregations can only “hear” music of the Andrew Lloyd Webber genre… . Continue Reading »

Can Organ-Harvesters Be Number One?

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Despite some hiccups caused by the sorry state of the world economy, China is still The Future for many global analysts. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times has even suggested that Americans have a lot to learn politically from the economic successes of Chinese authoritarianism. That China is the rising world power seems taken for granted in many elite foreign policy circles… . Continue Reading »

The Reasons for “Partisanship”

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Complaints that Washington-is-broken, which seem to have new intensity in recent years, often go hand-in-hand with laments about “partisanship” in politics. And, to be sure, there are reasons to be concerned about the functionality of our political system and its ability to address and solve some very serious problems… . Continue Reading »

The Church and the End of the Welfare State

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Throughout the post-Vatican II years, the U.S. bishops’ conference has typically defended the welfare state and not infrequently urged its expansion. Everyone familiar with the situation knows that this has had far more to do with the political predilections of certain conference staff members than with the settled judgment of the American episcopate”or with a careful application of the principles of Catholic social doctrine. But things are changing … Continue Reading »

The War on (Little) Women and Other Insanities

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The Supreme Court’s minor mistakes have few systemic consequences. But when the Supremes make a big mistake, the error tends to seep throughout the entire political process, poisoning everything in its path. That was what happened with the Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision, which intensified the passions and accelerated the dynamics that led to the Civil War”and to 600,000 Americans killing each other… . Continue Reading »

Meditations at the All-Star Break

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For the past two decades I’ve taught in Cracow every July. I’d not trade the experience for anything, but it’s had one drawback: I haven’t seen baseball’s All-Star Game in a long time. The game itself is no big deal. But the sight of so many great players gathered in one place is an annual reminder of the pastime’s remarkable capacity to renew itself, generation to generation. The rancid steroid era ends; the era of Josh Hamilton, Matt Kemp, Stephen Strasburg, and Justin Verlander begins. Tell me baseball isn’t divinely inspired… . Continue Reading »

Fortnight for Freedom - Religious Liberty and Its Contemporary Enemies

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Independence Day concludes the Fortnight for Freedom mandated by the U.S. bishops, a two-week period of reflection and prayer on the defense of religious liberty that began on the vigil of the liturgical memorial of St. Thomas More. In July 2012, we may be grateful that none of us faces the headsman’s axe, as More did in Tudor England. But neither should we be indifferent to, or flippant about, the 21st century threats to religious liberty that surround us. They have yet to bring anyone to today’s equivalent of the scaffold on Tower Hill, but they are already putting severe pressure on both believers and religious institutions… . Continue Reading »

Fortnight for Freedom - Social Justice Priorities: Life and Religious Liberty

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At this critical moment in history, there are two social justice priorities for the Catholic Church in the United States: the defense of life at all stages and in all conditions, and the defense of religious freedom for all. During this Fortnight for Freedom, in which the U.S. bishops are calling all Catholics to pray and work for religious freedom, it’s important to reflect on the linkage between these two great causes… . Continue Reading »

Fortnight for Freedom-U.S. Catholics and Religious Liberty: The Origins

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Several months ago, I came across a two-volume history of the Church in the United States I’d never read before: Theodore Maynard’s The Story of American Catholicism, first published in 1941. Maynard was not a professional historian and his telling of the American Catholic story has a bit more of the apologetic edginess of early-20th century Catholicism than a 21st-century audience might find congenial… . Continue Reading »