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

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Flannery O'Connor and Catholic Realism

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From this vale of tears, one can never be sure about the boundaries of acceptable behavior at the Throne of Grace. Is laughter at earthly foibles permitted? Encouraged? I like to think so. Which inclines me to believe that, this past June 3, Miss Mary Flannery O’Connor of Milledgeville, Georgia, was having herself a good cackle. Continue Reading »

Progressive Catholic Authoritarianism

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Back in the day (the late 1960s or thereabouts), Fr. Andrew Greeley—the model of an old-fashioned liberal Catholic—accused Fr. Daniel Berrigan (the beau ideal of post-conciliar Catholic radicalism) of harboring an authoritarian streak in his politics. By which Greeley meant that, were Berrigan . . . . Continue Reading »

Cuban Hopes for the Papal Visit

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In early June, the distinguished Catholic editor Dagoberto Valdés Hernández, a leader of the Cuban democratic opposition, gave a lecture at Georgetown and reprised its main points later that day at the National Endowment for Democracy (on whose bipartisan board I serve). Mr. Valdés has thought . . . . Continue Reading »

The Church and the “New Normal”

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 In the wake of the Supreme Court’s marriage decision, these sober thoughts occur: (1) The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has rendered a decision that puts the Court at odds with the Constitution, with reason, and with biblical religion. (2) SCOTUS has gotten it wrong before. It . . . . Continue Reading »

The Summer Reading List

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Fifty years ago, prior to my freshman year at Baltimore’s St. Paul Latin High School, the late Fr. W. Vincent Bechtel introduced me to The Summer Reading List, upper-case. Fr. Bechtel didn’t fool around: He tossed his teenage charges into the deep end of the English and American literature pool . . . . Continue Reading »

Now, the Kasper Theory of Democracy?

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A few weeks ago, after Ireland voted to approve so-called “same-sex marriage,” a correspondent sent me an e-mail quoting Cardinal Walter Kasper’s comment on the result: “A democratic state has the duty to respect the will of the people, and it seems clear that, if the majority of the people . . . . Continue Reading »

Themes for Surviving “Ordinary Time”

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I’m fortunate to hear good preaching on a regular basis. But even the best Catholic preaching these days leans far more toward moral exhortation than biblical exposition. This strikes me as a missed opportunity. For if one of the tasks of preaching today is to help the people of the Church . . . . Continue Reading »

The Myth of Washington Gridlock

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“Gridlock” along the Potomac – the difficulties the Congress has in getting things done, the difficulties the Congress and the White House have in cooperating to get things done, or both – is regularly deplored by pols, pundits, and citizens alike. My contrarian view is that this kind of “gridlock” can serve useful public purposes, acting as a brake on passions and a gauge of the nation’s moral health. As George Will has long insisted, “gridlock” – in the sense of making it difficult to get legislation passed – is built into the American system. The Framers of the Constitution saw fit to establish three branches of government and a Congress with two houses; they also required congressional supermajorities for certain grave matters, like ratifying treaties, convicting impeached officials, or sending constitutional amendments to the states. And that is a prescription for something resembling “gridlock.” Continue Reading »

Men Such as These: A Memorial Day Reflection

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Like most denizens of Washington, I pay too little attention to the sites other Americans make sacrifices to visit. Earlier this month, though, prompted by reading James Scott’s Target Tokyo, a comprehensive history of the famous Doolittle Raid of April 18, 1942, I strolled through Arlington National Cemetery in search of three graves.They were in Section 12, side-by-side, each marked with a headstone identical in its simplicity to so many thousands of others: William G. Farrow, Dean E. Hallmark, Robert J. Meder. Hallmark was the pilot of the sixth B-25 to take off from the pitching deck of USS Hornet, seventy-three years ago; Meder was his co-pilot on the plane they dubbed Green Hornet. Farrow was the pilot of Bat Out of Hell, the last of the sixteen planes to roar down the flight-deck of what President Franklin Roosevelt later called “our secret base at Shangri-La.” Captured in Japanese-occupied China, Hallmark and Farrow were shot by their captors on October 15, 1942, after months of torture and deprivation and a bogus “trial”; Meder died of starvation in a Japanese prison on December 11, 1943. All three were cremated, their names deliberately falsified on the urns that bore their ashes. The urns were properly identified after the Japanese surrender and returned to the United States, where they now rest, sheltered under a tree, down the hill from the equally simple grave of the flyers’ commander, Jimmy Doolittle. Continue Reading »

The Catholic Church's German Crisis

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The 21st-century Church owes a lot to 20th-century German Catholicism: for its generosity to Catholics in the Third World; for the witness of martyrs like Alfred Delp, Bernhard Lichtenberg, and Edith Stein; for its contributions to Biblical studies, systematic and moral theology, liturgical renewal, and Catholic social doctrine, through which German Catholicism played a leading role in Vatican II’s efforts to renew Catholic witness for the third millennium. At the Council, more than the Rhine flowed into the Tiber; let’s not forget the Seine, the Meuse, the Potomac, and the Vistula. But the Rhine’s flow was strong. Continue Reading »