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Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church
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78 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I converted to Catholicism 8 years ago and I've struggled to find my "place" in the Church since that Easter Vigil. I had too much faith to be any kind of progressive Catholic and I lacked those cradle bona fides to even remotely understand what compels Traditional Catholics. I was beginning to doubt that I could be a Catholic at all.

Thank you Mr. Weigel. I read your book and discovered that I've been right where I should be all along, in Christ, and in His Church. I am Catholic after all.
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68 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Great Book on 'Evangelical Catholicism' /'The New Evangelization'/ 'Vatican II Catholicism'
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George Weigel is one of my favorite Catholic essayists, political and cultural commentators. In this book he doesnt disappoint and delivers a top notch book which for a great many Catholics will become a handbook or a guiding light. Al Kresta calls the book prophetic. Another reviewer(Archbishop) called it a 'blueprint for the re-evangelization of the West'. I couldnt agree more. I see in the author, and in this book, someone who has finally wrestled with and pinned down what the abstraction 'The New Evangelization' is all about. Although George Weigel rarely mentions the term 'The New Evangelization' in his book, it is implicit within the book and synonymous with 'Evangelical Catholic/Catholicism'. And, of course, all this starts with you and me.

George gives us a bit of a rundown of 'modernism' and 'post-modernism', its anti-religion posture and how as the predominant culture it has completely pummeled 'Counter Reformation Catholicism', also known as 'Council of Trent' Catholicism, and has left the Catholic Church in a shambles dominated by 'progressive' vs. 'traditional', 'liberal' vs. 'conservative' and 'pre vs. post Vatican II' fights and discussions which are not the essential fights, as the Church should be centered on neither but 'Evangelical Catholicism'. Although I am a conservative, surprisingly true to form this book delivers and enables one to focus on the future and perhaps finally unfurl some fingers on these fights and labels and move forward on a new transcendent realignment. Albeit a new realignment with a brighter and better label: 'Evangelical Catholicism'.

According to George Weigel, "Evangelical Catholics are fed by both Word and Sacrament--by a daily reading of the Bible and regular reception of the Eucharist and the sacrament of Penance--are men and women being formed by the obedience of faith into a genuine freedom." Whereas "Counter-Reformation Catholicism" like Evangelical Catholicism emphasized a rich devotional life centered on Mary, the saints, and the Sacred Heart. But it did not lay much stress on sanctification through a regular encounter with the Bible and frequent reception of holy communion. The author George details many differences between the two, but notes the strength of Counter-Reformation Catholicism was its ability to create culture, sometimes hunkered down culture with large walls around it--ghettos with religious and ethnic distinctions. Wherever Counter-Reformation Catholicism traveled around the world post 1500's, it created local and enduring Catholic cultures,resistant to erosion, until finally after 500 years the age of modernism came and deconstructed, subsumed and replaced all those Catholic cultures with itself. Hence, the sad state of our embittered and embattled Catholic Church.

What George Weigel does do is describe what a true to doctrine, biblical based, reform-oriented, culture-forming Evangelical Catholicism should be, properly formed by Vatican II. George further explains that Vatican II really started with Pope Leo XIII(Papacy: 1873-1903) and his confrontation with modernism. He further details that the linchpin document of Vatican II was 'Dei Verbum' and it lays the groundwork not only for deep reform but for the 'New Evengelization' and the new 'Evangelical Catholic'. In our society, in our culture, confronting a disbelieving world with the revelation that God has revealed himself and comes down to us to meet us with our belief, cannot be successful with statements like 'The Catholic Church teaches...'. This is met with by most unbelievers in this 'modern' or 'post-modern' world with anti-authoritarian alarm bells and is a non-starter. Catholic evangelism and consequently the 'Evangelical Catholic' must be biblically based confronting in all charity the world with the actions of your belief and with sayings like 'The Gospel reveals...'. A statement like 'The Gospel reveals...', might be met with initial hostility or skepticism, but Gods truth, the Word, cannot be met with indifference. In essence this book provides a template for the next 500 years for 'The New Evangelization--Vatican II--Evangelical' Catholicism.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Weigel is one of the few authors with the depth and experience to tackle such a vast topic and to do so credibly. For the last several years it seemed as if the choice for he future of the Church was between liberals and conservatives. Now, Weigel argues that neither of these are the likely future path for the Church. Liberals want us to join the liberal protestant camp which has already shown it is going nowhere and has a weak following. Conservatives who want us to return to the days of the counter-Reformation are living in a time warp which ignores present day circumstances. The third option of Evangelical Catholicism both returns the Church to its Gospel beginnings and prepares it to deal with contemporary issues in a neaningful way. A seriously good read.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
In the immediate wake of the election of Pope Francis, George Weigel was asked what he would like readers to take from his book (which was completed less than a year ago). His reply, I think, is no different than what it would have been when the volume was published: "A sense of hope for a bright Catholic future, in which a purified and revivified Catholicism, meeting the Lord once again on the Emmaus roads of the 21st century, rediscovers the power that comes from a commitment to mission."

Weigel's vision of a properly executed "commitment to mission" is the thread that runs throughout the book. Part One lays out his vision for Evangelical Catholicism covering its roots (EC is not something that needs to begin but rather something that needs to continue to be implemented), what it means for the Church and the world, and what "deep reform" (note that the subtitle is not subtle) would look like.

Part Two looks at how these reforms would impact the episcopate, the priesthood, the liturgy, religious life, lay persons, Catholic intellectual life, the Church's public policy advocacy, and the papacy. Weigel is not hesitant to point out historical and current problems in each of these areas, the roots of these problems, and correctives needed. Every member of the Church is addressed and challenged here. When finished with it, lay persons may want to pass this along to a priest or religious, even if that person only has time to read the chapter dealing with his vocation, and then discuss it with him. This would be a great way to engage those with a special religious vocation.

Particularly impressive is that the author appeals to Scripture, the authentic letter and spirit of Vatican II, and many Church documents from Leo XIII's "Rerum Novarum" to the latest encyclical, Benedict's "Caritas in Veritate." John Paul II, with whom Weigel is intimately familiar, naturally receives significant treatment not only because of this familiarity but because of the length of his pontificate and his desire to properly implement the reforms of Vatican II. Weigel clearly shows that his own proposals for reform are based solidly in recent (at least in relation to the age of the Church) teaching, thus in continuity with them, yet, like them, solidly grounded in Biblical roots.

If you are on the fence regarding purchasing this book, I suggest using the "Look Inside" feature in Amazon to peruse the table of contents and to read the prologue. This will provide the overview a potential reader needs to get a good sense of what Weigel dives into in admirable detail (he says in the acknowledgments that the "book is the product of some thirty years of reflection on the future of the Catholic Church" and it shows). Weigel's broad knowledge of history, both of the Church and of the world, his understanding of the culture, and his deep faith are on display once again.

Heartily recommended to convict the convinced, spur to action the lukewarm or disengaged, and challenge the rest.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
very well written, fairly easy read. Bit of a slow start but picks up. It is a blue print for the new evangelization. I highly recommend all Catholics to read this book, and those who are interested in who the Catholic Church really is...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
George Weigel shows where the Holy Spirit may be blowing in the Church today to lead it in a somewhat different direction so that it is more effective in its mission in the world we live in. He shows that Catholics can no longer hide in bunkers, inside the traditional world of catechisms, devotions and elaborate churches. Important as they remain, above all, we must be rooted in friendship with Christ and bring Him into the world with an integrated faith. This friendship gives us confidence that Christ is the Truth, not just for us, but for all of mankind in his search for love, truth, beauty, and meaning in life. This friendship needs to be formed by prayer, more theological (less historical) study of the Word of God, better preaching from the pulpit, more effective celebration of the Sacraments, more effective education in Catholic schools, and a clearer public policy witness. Weigel shows us how we can reform each of those areas of the Church's life so that they serve the overall mission of fostering friendship with Christ in Her members, and those in the world to whom they are sent to evangelize.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
George Weigel has done an excellent job of capturing the urgency of the New Evangelization within the Catholic Church. Solid references to scripture and the importance of reading scripture on a daily basis. Would recommend for anyone interested in learning more about the faith.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
while i don't agree with every detail-having been a former evangelical myself -Weigel once again hits the nail on the head. Without a personal and intentional, intense and all-encompassing relationship with Christ, the whole Catholic synthesis becomes flat and weak.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover
George Weigel is an important commentator on the Church today and I always think it is important to hear what he has to say. As a seminarian, I read "The Courage to be Catholic" and am indebted to Mr. Weigel for his insights there.

That said, I was disappointed at the quality of this book. Overall it might as well be titled "George Weigel has Opinions" or "George Weigel Rants about Stuff".

The first two chapters are rather useless and incoherent. Once things start picking up, I did not find Mr. Weigel's insights all that insightful. Accurate? Absolutely! Insightful? Not so much. Granted, I am a living part of the movement that Mr. Weigel is describing, so I suppose reading a description of myself was always going to be a letdown, but I was really hoping that Mr. Weigel could have given me something, somewhere to reflect upon. Further, there were a few topics where I did not think that they naturally followed from his thesis, leading me to believe that the author was simply describing his own spirituality, rather than a coherent movement.

For Catholics who don't know what we youth are up to: probably worth a read.
For Evangelical Catholics who do know what we're up to: you're really not going to learn anything here.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The book is divided into two parts. The first speaks about (1) Why Evangelical Catholicism have replaced the counter-reformation church. (2) How that process began (3) What is an evangelical Catholicism. And (4) the need for a reformation inside the church.

The author emphasizes that the process which transform the church from the counter-reformation Catholicism into Evangelical Catholicism began with Leo XIII. However more efforts are needed to complete this transition, says the Weigel.

The second part of the book is dedicated to how a future reformation ought to be done. The criteria of reformation which has been suggested by the author to any future reformation is; truth and mission. Everything should be built on Christ. And every reformation must be done to serve the mission to spread the gospel. He criticises Traditionalist and Liberal Catholics alike.

He suggests many ways to reform the Episcopate, Priesthood, Lay Vocation, Religious life, Liturgy, Intellectual life, Public engagement, and the Papacy. All the reformations which he advocates are designed to ease the Church's mission to evangelize the west.

Overall a good book, but the author's argument didn't convince me. And in my view he didn't show how the Church would combat Secularism successfully in the west. The reforms of priesthood that he proposed are excellent. Yet he asks to keep priestly celibacy even though, as he acknowledges, it's just a Latin rite position. I am surprised that keeping priest celibacy will strengthen the church position in the west, according to the author!
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