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

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“Wolf Hall” and Upmarket Anti-Catholicism

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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

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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

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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”

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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 »

The Indomitable and Effective Cardinal Pell

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Shortly after George Pell was named Archbishop of Melbourne, he instituted several reforms at the archdiocesan seminary, including daily Mass and the daily celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, both of which had fallen by the wayside in the preceding years. The seminary faculty, enthusiastic proponents of Catholic Lite, thought to call the archbishop’s bluff and informed him that, were he to persist in such draconian measures, they would resign en masse.The archbishop thanked them for the courtesy of giving him a heads-up, accepted their resignations on the spot, and got on with the reform of the Melbourne seminary—and the rest of the archdiocese. Continue Reading »

A Mission of Love

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The World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia this September should be more than a vast Catholic “gathering of the clans” around Pope Francis—and so should the months between now and then. If the Church in the United States takes this opportunity seriously, these months of preparation will be a time when Catholics ponder the full, rich meaning of marriage and the family: human goods whose glory is brought into clearest focus by the Gospel. Parents, teachers and pastors all share the responsibility for seizing this opportunity, which comes at a moment when marriage and the family are crumbling in our culture and society. Continue Reading »

No Fighting God

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Some months after my son-in-law, Rob Susil, died, a longtime friend asked me, in a gentle but point-blank way, “Are you still fighting God?” The only honest response was, “Yes.” At which my friend said, simply, “You’re not going to win, you know . . .” Continue Reading »

World Christianity by the Numbers

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The annual “Status of Global Christianity” survey published by the International Bulletin of Missionary Research is a cornucopia of numbers: Some are encouraging; others are discouraging; many of them are important for grasping the nature of this particular moment in Christian history. Continue Reading »