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

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Books for Christmas

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If memory serves, this past year saw electronic books top printed books in the sales figures at Amazon.com. Be that as it may, books”real books”still make wonderful Christmas gifts. Here are some recently published (and read) titles I can recommend with enthusiasm… . Continue Reading »

Downsizing-To-Grow in Ireland

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Catholicism is in crisis all over Old Europe. Nowhere is that crisis more pronounced than in Ireland, where clerical corruption and disastrous episcopal leadership have collided with rank political expediency and a rabidly anticlerical media to produce a perfect storm of ecclesiastical meltdown. The country whose constitution begins “In the name of the Most Holy Trinity…” is now thoroughly post-Christian. And while there has been no one cause of that radical secularization, the Church in Ireland had best look to itself, its sins, its errors, and its unbecoming alliance with political power as it considers how to begin anew… . Continue Reading »

Remembering Bill Doherty

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In December 1980, I spent several hours talking with Mike Hammer, a field representative in El Salvador of the American Institute for Free Labor Development. AIFLD, an overseas development affiliate of the AFL-CIO, was trying to bring some sense into the polarized politics of El Salvador, a country coming apart at the seams. A few weeks after we met, that violent polarization cost Mike Hammer his life… . Continue Reading »

Must the Roman Curia be Italian?

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Although he’s not very well known in the U.S., save among members of the Sant’Egidio community (of which he’s the founding father), Andrea Riccardi is a major figure in the Catholic Church in Italy: a historian of the papacy, a commentator on all things Catholic, and a player in various ecclesiastical dramas. Most recently, according to Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, Riccardi has taken to defending the Italian character of the Roman Curia, which, after a period of internationalization, has become more pronounced over the past decade… . Continue Reading »

Breaking Bad Liturgical Habits

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The long-awaited introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal on Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent, offers the Church in the Anglophere an opportunity to reflect on the riches of the liturgy, its biblical vocabulary, and its virtually inexhaustible storehouse of images. Much of that vocabulary, and a great many of those images, were lost under the “dynamic equivalence” theory of translation; they have now been restored under the “formal equivalence” method of translating. Over the next years and decades, the Catholic Church will be reminded of just what a treasure-house of wonders the liturgy is… . Continue Reading »

The Emerging Crisis in Ukraine

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The Oct. 11 sentencing of former prime minister and Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years in prison may or may not stand. Miss Tymoshenko has appealed the sentence and several western governments, including the Obama administration, have lodged stiff protests over Tymoshenko’s prosecution with the government of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich. But irrespective of Miss Tymoshenko’s legal fate, a marker has been laid down… . Continue Reading »

The Ecumenical Future

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The Evangelical Church in Germany is a theological muddle, being a federation of Lutheran, Prussian Union, and Reformed (or Calvinist) Protestant communities. Still, it must have been a moving moment when the Council of this federation met with Pope Benedict XVI last month in the chapter hall of the former Augustinian priory at Erfurt: the place where Martin Luther had studied theology, had been ordained a priest, and had, as the Pope put it, thought with “deep passion” about one great question: “How do I receive the grace of God?” … Continue Reading »

The Lay Reform of Church and World

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Two volumes recently published by Encounter Books address key issues in the New Evangelization. The first, Marcello Pera’s Why We Should Call Ourselves Christians, is another effort by a distinguished public intellectual to call our civilization back to its foundational senses. Pera, a philosopher of science, is also an Italian legislator who served for several years as president of the Italian Senate… . Continue Reading »

Tim Tebow and Christophobia

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Two weeks into the NFL season, ESPN ran a Sunday morning special exploring why the third-string quarterback of the Denver Broncos, Tim Tebow, had become the most polarizing figure in American sports”more polarizing than trash-talking NBA behemoths; more polarizing than foul-mouthed Serena Williams; more polarizing than NFL all-stars who father numerous children by numerous women, all out of wedlock. Why does Tebow, and Tebow alone, arouse such passions? Why is Tebow the one whom “comedians” say they would like to shoot? … Continue Reading »

9/11, Benedict XVI and Regensburg

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In the flood of commentary surrounding the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I found but one reference to a related anniversary of considerable importance: the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg Lecture. That lecture, given the day after the fifth anniversary of 9/11 at the pope’s old university in Germany, identified the two key challenges to 21st-century Islam, if that faith of over a billion people is going to live within today’s world in something other than a condition of war… . Continue Reading »