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Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church Hardcover – February 5, 2013
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Mary Eberstadt, author of Adam and Eve after the Pill and The Loser Letters
Evangelical Catholicism is a remarkable intellectual and spiritual achievement, even by George Weigel's dauntingly high standards. It is nothing less than a blueprint for the re-evangelization of the West and the re-invigoration of the rest of the world.”
John L. Allen Jr., Senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and author of The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church
A laudable hunger to relight the Church's missionary fires is the core of Evangelical Catholicism, but good intentions need practical blueprints if they're going to work. George Weigel has gotten that conversation started in his typically lucid, provocative fashion, and we are all in his debt.”
Don J. Briel, Koch Chair in Catholic Studies, University of Saint Thomas
A timely, accessible and unusually insightful work.”
George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney
Weigel at his astringent and prophetic best.”
A learned and lucid commentator on Catholicism [Weigel] brings a keenly developed sense of the workings of the church to his analysis. But Evangelical Catholicism is a call to arms. Though written long before Benedict made his surprise announcement, the book is nonetheless a timely guide to the issues that the cardinals in conclaveand the next popemust confront . Evangelical Catholicism may provide a desperately needed vision of the future of the church, imbued with the extraordinary hope that has always been at the heart of the Catholic faith.”
The Weekly Standard
Weigel at his best, situating our present moment within the context of the last century, and laying out an agenda for Catholic reform and mission in the future .This book deserves to be read by any serious thinking Christian.”
A serious and acute work . Weigel's ability to combine the spiritual insights of a believer with the dispassionate analysis of a historian makes Evangelical Catholicism valuable for Catholics and non-Catholics, of all political persuasions, who care about the Church's future.”
"An elegantly written manifesto."
National Catholic Register
[Weigel is] our greatest observer of the global Catholic Church If I could gain entrance into the conclave, I would smuggle in enough copies of Evangelical Catholicism to place one on the chair of each elector, in hopes that they would adopt this masterpiece of Catholic history and thought as a possible guide for the Church's mission in the centuries ahead.”
A call for pride, sincerity and depth in Catholic life and community . The bulk of Weigel's book examines how this new Catholicism can be applied to the episcopate, priesthood, liturgy, laity, etc. The author makes many important points, and his call toward a deeper spirituality and sense of mission in Catholic life is laudable.”
Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus
A rare book that can transform culture and communities from the inside out, beginning with the humble premise of evangelization: to proclaimin word and deedthe good news of Jesus Christ. No stone is unturned, no promise or issue within the Church and her members is ignored in this excellent, well-thought-out guide for reform-based evangelization.”
Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York
This sparkling read puts all the old Church-labelsliberal vs. conservative, progressive vs. traditionalist, pre- vs. post-Vatican IIin the shredder. Now there is only one valid adjective for all of us: evangelical! Simply put, this means we take our baptismal promises with the utmost seriousness. Like the Samaritan woman, we've met a manJesuswho has changed our lives.”
Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia
George Weigel has been the leading diarist of authentic Catholic renewalits progress, detours, personalities, and hopesfor 30 years. In Evangelical Catholicism he turns his extraordinary skills to the needs of the Church in the coming decades, calling us back to the missionary vocation we received at baptism and offering us a road map to faithful, vigorous Church reform. Rich in its vision, engaging in style, on target in its counsel and invaluable for anyone trying to understand the Church and her challenges in the 21st Century, this book should not be missed.”
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Weigel traces where we and the Church are at this current time. Pope Francis was not elected when he wrote this. However, he forecasted some of what we could expect of the man who would be Pope Benedict XVI's successor. He traces who that Pope will be back to foundations that we set into place by Pope Leo XIII who came to office in 1878, one hundred years before Pope John Paul II. I was so impressed by this because I was able to see this partially when Francis became Pope and in writing a review for his The Church of Mercy, said this:
*** The phenomenon of Pope Francis did not occur in a vacuum. It is a matter of men who became pope who would then stand on the shoulders of their predecessors. For this review, we need not go back any further than Pope John XXIII who began what he called the "aggiornamento"--the "breath of fresh air" that the Church needed; literally, the "modernization" that was called for; which began the process of the calling of the Second Vatican Council, which came after his death. It was during the papacy of Pope Paul VI that the Council actually happened. It was from there that the modern teaching on "evangelization" sprung from the document Evangelii Nuntiandi / On Evangelization in the Modern World. It was there that the Church began the process which first resembles the Apostles staying fearfully in the Upper Room, but after receiving and being moved by the Holy Spirit went into the streets to proclaim the Good News, after which numbers of people were being added daily to the small Church at its beginning.
*** It was Pope John Paul II who oversaw much of the implementation of the Council, and the recommendations of its many the Documents: Constitutions, Decrees, Declarations and More Post-Conciliar Documents, who coined the term "New Evangelization" as the direction of the Church must travel. Although Pope John XXIII was the one who brought the Church into the spotlight of the modern media, Pope John Paul II solidified the Church's use of the media as part of its mission and the transmission of the Good News. With this, and being the most travelled pope in history, he succeeded in bringing the Church and the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Pope Benedict XVI followed much in the same suit, although not as extensively. Although much good was done and much was accomplished in these efforts, this might only have been groundwork, preparing the way for the papacy of Pope Francis.
*** From Day 1, he was able to capture the hearts and the minds of the people of the world through the deliberate use he made of the media, not only TV, but the Internet and things like Facebook and Twitter. Although implementation might be considered a thing of the past, Pope Francis has an approach that we can say is "where the rubber meets the road" or better, "where the Gospel meets the road" in search of the Lost Sheep. He shows us how to live the "aggiornamento" that was begun by Pope John XXIII. For example, last week at the annual Chrism Mass at which the Holy Oils are blessed, he told priests, "If you don't go out from yourself, the holy oil grows rancid and the anointing cannot be fruitful. Going out from ourselves presupposes self-denial; it means poverty." He challenges the members of the Church at every level in this way.
George Weigel speaks as we hear Pope Francis speaking, "about the message and the revolutionary nature of the Gospel with its power to transform, that can produce genuine joy, hope, and true courage with which to face obstacles." As stated in the Preface of this recent book The Church of Mercy, the pope's aim "is to let people understand that an authentic Christianity, faithful to the spirit of the Gospel, is not achievable if the people in Christian communities have a weary and half-asleep faith, without any thrill of excitement, a faith shut up within the walls of their hearts or church buildings. This is the danger that might materialise if the Church grows old and accustomed to caring only about itself rather than flinging open its doors and facing the challenges of the world." Or, to look at this from the other side of the coin, as Weigel quotes Karl Rahner, SJ in the front of the book, "Only when the message of the living God is preached in the churches with all the power of the Spirit, will the impression disappear that the Church is merely an odd relic from the age of a society doomed to die."
Weigel traces the roots of what we are witnessing back almost 140 years. I think that is very encouraging. Sometimes we wonder what God has been doing all of this time. If the Church is a Divine Institution, then God most certainly must have been at work. Weigel gives us an insight into what the Spirit has been doing, where it was leading, and how that applies to our current day Church, which sometimes does look very good and does not impress the world. Pope Francis tells us, it doesn't matter if the Church sometimes fails on the way. This is why he keeps sending out warnings that heavy-handedness, intransigence, hypocrisy and other shortcomings need to be abolished because they undermine Christian credibility. He is determined to reform and renew the Church so that it becomes better equipped to pursue its goals, with all that that involves," or maybe, what it simply involves. He says it's Mercy! Anyway you look at it, Weigel says it comes from the vision that Pope Leo began implementing decades ago.