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

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Men Such as These: A Memorial Day Reflection

From Web Exclusives

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

From Web Exclusives

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 »

The Difference Cardinal George Made

From Web Exclusives

On September 2, 1939, the House of Commons debated the British government’s response to the German invasion of Poland the previous day. The ruling Conservative Party was badly divided between those demanding that Britain fulfill its obligations to Poland and those addicted to the habits of appeasement. “Party loyalty” was being invoked to drown out Conservative opposition to Conservative prime minister Neville Chamberlain when the deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, Arthur Greenwood, rose to speak. Then, from the Tory back benches, came the voice of an anti-appeasement Conservative, Leo Amery, who cried, “Speak for England, Arthur!” Continue Reading »

John Paul II and “America”

From Web Exclusives

In the years preceding the Great Jubilee of 2000, John Paul II held a series of continental synods to help the Church in different locales reflect on its distinctive situation at the end of the second millennium, and to plan for a future of evangelical vigor in the third. These Special Assemblies were easily named in the case of the Synods for Africa, Asia, and Europe. But when it came to the Synod for the western hemisphere, John Paul threw a linguistic curveball that made an important point. Continue Reading »

Lessons in Statecraft

From the May 2015 Print Edition

When the Catholic Church celebrated the canonizations of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII on April 27, 2014, the Church was not “making saints,” and neither was Pope Francis. Rather, the Church and the pope were recognizing two saints that God had made, publicly declaring its conviction . . . . Continue Reading »

Remembering Number 84

From Web Exclusives

He scored forty times in an eight-year NFL career, best known, now, for the touchdown he didn’t score, as the sun set over Yankee Stadium on Dec. 28, 1958. His wife of fifty-nine years, Joan, said that Jim Mutscheller, who died on April 10, wanted to be known as a man “who had led a good life,” for he was “quiet, humble, and so conservative that he’d eat crabs with a suit and tie on.”And therein lies a tale—and a yardstick by which to measure pro sports then and now. Continue Reading »

“Wolf Hall” and Upmarket Anti-Catholicism

From Web Exclusives

Wolf Hall, the BBC adaptation of Hillary Mantel’s novel about early Tudor England, began airing on PBS’s “Masterpiece Theater” Easter Sunday night. It’s brilliant television. It’s also a serious distortion of history. And it proves, yet again, that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable bigotry in elite circles in the Anglosphere.The distortions and bias are not surprising, considering the source. Hillary Mantel is a very talented, very bitter ex-Catholic who’s said that the Church today is “not an institution for respectable people” (so much for the English hierarchy’s decades-long wheedling for social acceptance). As she freely concedes, Mantel’s aim in her novel was to take down the Thomas More of A Man for All Seasons—the Thomas More the Catholic Church canonized—and her instrument for doing so is More’s rival in the court of Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell. Continue Reading »

Newman and Vatican II

From Web Exclusives

That Blessed John Henry Newman was one of the great influences on Vatican II is “a commonplace,” as Newman’s biographer, Fr. Ian Ker, puts it. But what does that mean? What influence did Newman have on a Council that opened 72 years after his death? And from this side of history, what might we learn from Newman about the proper way to “read” Vatican II, as we anticipate the 50th anniversary of its conclusion on Dec. 8? Continue Reading »

Easter and Evangelism

From Web Exclusives

Galatians 1:15-18 is not your basic witness-to-the-Resurrection text. Yet St. Paul’s mini-spiritual autobiography helps us understand just how radically the experience of the Risen Lord changed the first disciples’ religious worldview, and why an evangelical imperative was built into that experience. Continue Reading »

St. John Paul II and the “Tyranny of the Possible”

From Web Exclusives

The reputations of the great often diminish over time. Ten years after his holy death on April 2, 2005, Karol Wojtyla, Pope St. John Paul II, looms even larger than he did when the world figuratively gathered at his bedside a decade ago: tens of millions of men and women around the world who felt impelled, and privileged, to pray with him through what he called his “Passover”—his liberation through death into a new life of freedom in the blazing glory of the Thrice-Holy God. Continue Reading »