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

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Michael Novak, Founding Father

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Twenty years ago, the American Catholic thinker Michael Novak put his head together with his friend Rocco Buttiglione, a distinguished Italian thinker, to see what might be done about educating a new cadre of young Catholic leaders in the social doctrine of the Church. John Paul II’s recently released social encyclical, Centesimus Annus, seemed an ideal intellectual anchor for such an enterprise, given its rich development of the social doctrine and its bracing challenge to build free and virtuous societies in the 21st century… . Continue Reading »

China-Watching in the Vatican

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Whatever its other accomplishments, Henry Kissinger’s new book, On China, ought to cause serious reconsideration of that now-familiar refrain, “China-is-the-lead-country-of-the-future.” Kissinger’s analysis of Chinese history has been criticized, as has his reticence about evils like the massacres at Tiananmen Square. But his conclusion”that China’s future depends on the resolution of the conflict between those of its leaders who want to maintain totalitarian political control at all costs and those who want to complete the country’s remarkable economic development with a genuine opening toward democratic governance”strikes me as a fair summary of the situation… . Continue Reading »

Moral Revolutions in America

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In a recent article, Yale professor David Gelernter noted that modern America had “two extraordinary accomplishments: victory in the Cold War and the all-but-eradication of race prejudice in a single generation … .” The back story of the latter is worth pondering around Independence Day. When I was growing up in Baltimore in the 1950s, everything and everyone around me was segregated. Five years before I was born, local idiots vociferously insulted Jackie Robinson when he came to town with the Montreal Royals, prior to his debut in Brooklyn… . Continue Reading »

Miracles in Soho

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Soho, in the West End of the British capital, has had a rather dodgy history. Wikipedia notes that, by the mid-19th century, “all respectable families had moved away, and prostitutes, music halls and small theaters had moved in.” So had Father Arthur O’Leary who, in 1792, established in Soho the first Catholic church since the Reformation that had not been located on some foreign embassy’s territory. … Continue Reading »

The Enduring Importance of Centesimus Annus

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Amidst the excitement of John Paul II’s beatification on May 1, the 20th anniversary of the late pope’s most important social encyclical Centesimus Annus, got a bit lost. Blessed John Paul II was not a man given to rubbing it in. Still, it is worth noting that the encyclical, which celebrated the collapse of European communism and probed the social, cultural, economic, and political terrain of the post-communist world, was dated on May Day, the great public holiday of the communist movement. … Continue Reading »

Roger Maris and the Summer of 1961

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Five years ago, I made the argument for Hoosiers as the greatest sports movie ever and lamented the absence of great baseball films. Hoosiers is still the gold standard but a confession is in order: There is a great baseball movie; it ranks right up there in the cinematic sports pantheon; and on this golden anniversary of the Mantle-Maris chase for Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record, attention must be paid… . Continue Reading »

A 40-Something Cardinal?

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In recent centuries, the College of Cardinals has not been noted for its boyishness. Indeed, one of the human fascinations of a conclave is that it’s a rare opportunity to see a deliberation-with-consequences conducted by elderly men. This can have its down-side: According to one story, perhaps apocryphal, a very old cardinal kept writing “Achille Ratti” on his ballot throughout the conclave of 1958; Ratti had died in 1939 as Pius XI… . Continue Reading »

Reactionary Liberalism and Catholic Social Doctrine

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The debate over Catholic social doctrine and U.S. social welfare policy took an unhelpful turn in May when a gaggle of academics fired a shot across the bow of House Speaker John Boehner, prior to his commencement address at the Catholic University of America. Their charge? That Boehner’s House voting record showed him to be a man who fails “to recognize (whether out of a lack of awareness or dissent) important aspects of Catholic teaching.” … Continue Reading »

An Open Letter to My Friends in Poland

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A son of Poland is now Blessed John Paul II. What is Poland to do now? If a friend might offer a suggestion: The Church in Poland should start looking forward rather than backward. Ever since the late pope’s death in 2005, the Polish Church seems to have been looking over its shoulder at the colossal figure of John Paul II. … Continue Reading »