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

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What Popes Can and Can’t Do

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A good friend habitually refers to the Wall Street Journal as his “favorite Catholic newspaper”—a bit of whimsy not without foundation, given the openness of the Journal’s op-ed pages to serious Catholic argument on numerous issues. But just as Homer occasionally nods, so does America’s best newspaper. And on Jan. 2, the Journal nodded, big-time, in this description of why Pope Francis was one of the “People to Watch” in 2014 . . . Continue Reading »

The Poorest of the Poor

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Pope Francis has ignited a useful and necessary conversation about our responsibilities to the poorest of the poor—those who some may be tempted to write out of the script of history as hopeless cases. That conversation would be enhanced if participants in it took a close look at Paul Collier’s suggestive book, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It . . . Continue Reading »

The Drama of Ukraine

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My fascination with Ukraine began in 1984, during a sabbatical year at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. There, one of the first friends I made among my fellow Fellows was Dr. Bohdan Bociurkiw, a Ukrainian-Canadian professor at Carleton University in Ottawa. We first connected through a mutual interest in religious freedom behind the iron curtain; within a few weeks, Bohdan was giving me private tutorials in the history and culture of his native land, including an in-depth introduction to the story of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). . . . Continue Reading »

Cardinal George: An Anniversary Appreciation

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When Francis Eugene George first sought admission to the Chicago seminary in the 1950s, Chicago Catholicism imagined itself the future of the Catholic Church in the western world—and not without reason. A lot of the ferment in Catholic intellectual, liturgical, and pastoral life that would eventually produce the Second Vatican Council had already passed through Cook and Lake Counties in the previous two decades. Thus “this confident Church” (as one historian of Chicago Catholicism dubbed it) readily imagined itself the cutting-edge of the Catholic future: where Chicago was, the rest of the Church would eventually be. It was a conceit, to be sure; but it was a conceit with some institutional and pastoral foundation. . . . Continue Reading »

Books for Christmas: ‘13 Edition

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The flurry of instabooks published shortly after the election of Pope Francis didn’t shed much light on the formation, character and interests of Jorge Mario Bergoglio or the likely trajectory of his pontificate. Now comes something serious and useful: Pope Francis: Our Brother, Our Friend—Personal Recollections About the Man Who Became Pope, edited by Alejandro Bermúdez and published by Ignatius Press. In twenty interviews, longtime friends and associates of the pope “from the ends of the earth” give readers real insight into the radical Christian disciple who is leading the Church “into the deep” of the new evangelization, following the call of John Paul II in 2001. . . . Continue Reading »

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

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In his 2008 book, The Faithful: A History of Catholics in America, Boston College historian James M. O’Toole did a fine job of fleshing out the conventional U.S. Catholic story-line by emphasizing the role prominent lay men and women played in the Catholic experience in these United States. Yet there seemed to be something of a political filter at work in O’Toole’s perceptions, such that only the lamentable Joseph R. McCarthy got a mention among post-World War II Catholic Republicans notable in American public life. . . . Continue Reading »

Focused on the New Evangelization

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There’s a lot for U.S. Catholics to be thankful for at Thanksgiving 2013: seminaries that have turned the corner from the doldrums of the immediate past and are now full, or getting close; a reform of the liturgical reform that is bringing a new sense of the sacred back to Catholic worship; a pope who’s put a new face on the Church while holding fast to the Church’s settled teaching; the finest multimedia exposition of Catholic faith ever produced, Fr. Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” series; strong leadership from our bishops in meeting challenges to religious freedom and moral reality; a burgeoning men’s movement that draws thousands to witness for Christ; a new feminism that rejects a unisex approach to life and that is robustly pro-life. . . . Continue Reading »

JFK After 50 Years

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On Nov. 22, 1963, the seventh grade at Baltimore’s Cathedral School was in gym class when we got word that President Kennedy had been shot. A half-hour later, while we were climbing the stairs back to 7B’s classroom, Sister Dolorine’s voice came over the p.a., announcing that the president was dead. Walking into 7B, my classmates and I saw something that shocked us as much as the news we’d just heard: our tough-love homeroom teacher, a young School Sister of Notre Dame, was sobbing, her faced buried in her arms on her desk. . . . Continue Reading »

Georgian Delights

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The Rev. George William Rutler, S.T.D., a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is a man of parts: graduate of Dartmouth, Oxford, and Rome’s Angelicum (“the Dominican faculty that flunked Galileo,” he informs me); linguist, painter, violinist, and boxer; preacher extraordinaire. One of Catholicism’s most successful pastors, he has been a magnet attracting converts and vocations for decades. Fr. Rutler is also that contemporary clerical rarity, an accomplished man of letters who writes as gracefully as he speaks (or throws a punch, or paints a watercolor, or pours you another glass of champagne). . . . Continue Reading »

Doing Rome at Home

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In the middle centuries of the first millennium, the Bishop of Rome celebrated the Eucharist with his people during Lent in a striking way. Each day, the pope would lead a procession of Roman clergy and laity from one church (the collecta, or gathering point) to another, the statio or “station” of that day. There, over the relics of one of the Roman Church’s martyrs, Mass was celebrated and a communal meal that broke the daylong Lenten fast followed. Over time, this annual tradition was formalized into the Roman station church pilgrimage . . . Continue Reading »