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George Weigel explores ‘vocation’ by elegizing historic figures

February 18, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

CNA Staff, Feb 18, 2021 / 03:19 pm (CNA).- George Weigel this month released a book collecting remembrances of a range of historical figures, with the goal of exploring “what it means to live a worthy life.”

Not Forgotten: Elegies For, and Reminiscences Of, a Diverse Cast of Characters, Most of Them Admirable is a compilation of nearly seventy elegies for diverse individuals, some of whom Weigel knew personally, and some whom he “admired from a distance.”

These include such figures as St. John Paul II, Jackie Robinson, and Charles Krauthammer.

“The book is really an exploration of the many meanings of ‘vocation’ and the many forms of excellence,” Weigel told CNA.

The book features religious figures, athletes, politicians, and media personalities, among others. Not all lived imitable lives, but nevertheless ought not be forgotten, Weigel said.

“For all their differences, the men and women in my album of elegies and reminiscences all teach important lessons about what it means to live a worthy life. Some, admittedly, teach it along the old via negativa, the road we ought not travel.”

Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is the author of, among others, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II.



The Dispatch

The challenge of Eucharistic coherence

February 3, 2021 George Weigel 27

In his encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Pope St. John Paul II invited Catholics to “rekindle” our sense of “Eucharistic amazement,” for “the Church draws her life from the Eucharist,” which “recapitulates the heart of the […]

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George Weigel: Cupich’s criticisms of Gomez are baseless

January 22, 2021 CNA Daily News 7

CNA Staff, Jan 22, 2021 / 07:56 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, showed courage in releasing a statement on the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration despite opposition from within the conference, said papal biographer and longtime Church observer George Weigel.

Weigel said Gomez displayed “episcopal courage” at a time when others demanded “a reprise of the accommodationist approach to Catholic public officials long championed by Theodore McCarrick.”

Weigel, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Washington D.C.’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, penned an essay published in First Things on Friday, commenting on the statement released by Gomez on Inauguration Day and the subsequent criticism from Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago.

The statement from Gomez noted that Biden’s inauguration marks the first time in 60 years that a president has professed the Catholic faith. This presents a unique circumstance, Gomez said, particularly because Biden is in support of legal abortion and has pledged to increase taxpayer funding for it.

Cupich later criticized Gomez for releasing the statement, saying it was an “ill-considered statement” that “was crafted without the involvement of the Administrative Committee, a collegial consultation that is normal course for statements that represent and enjoy the considered endorsement of the American bishops.”

Norms from the bishops’ conference, however, indicate that standard procedures were followed ahead of the release of the statement.

Weigel argued that Gomez releasing a statement on the inauguration was in keeping with the recommendations from the Working Group on Engaging the New Administration created by the bishops at their November 2020 meeting.

As Gomez told his brother bishops, Weigel said, the working group had proposed “a letter to the new president from Archbishop Gomez, writing as a pastor. The letter would promise support for the new administration in areas of agreement. It would also identify administration policies, including abortion, that the bishops believed violated human dignity, and it would urge the new president to reassess his positions on these questions.”

The letter did just that, Weigel said. It noted numerous issues of concern among both political parties, but said that “the continued injustice of abortion remains the ‘preeminent priority’.”

“By any reasonable standard, Archbishop Gomez’s statement was balanced and measured; absent the controversy that erupted before and after its release,” Weigel said.

However, he said, “Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark put intense pressure on Archbishop Gomez to make no statement, as did the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre.”

Weigel said the controversy “underscored the statement’s firm, clear, and unambiguous stance on the ‘preeminent priority’ of the life issues—and thus heightened the impact of those parts of the statement that the dissident cardinals may have found so objectionable that they tried to quash the entire document.”

He said Cupich’s suggestion that Gomez was somehow acting against the norms of the bishops’ conference “is itself unfair and irresponsible.”

“To suggest that there was something unprecedented here is to falsify history,” he said. “What was indeed unprecedented, as Archbishop Gomez pointed out in his statement, was the situation of a president of the United States who professed a devout and heartfelt Catholicism and yet was publicly committed to facilitating grave moral evils.”


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George Weigel praises Courage apostolate for fidelity, heroic witness

November 12, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

CNA Staff, Nov 13, 2020 / 12:17 am (CNA).- Catholic author George Weigel this week praised the heroic witness displayed by members of Courage, an apostolate that ministers to people experiencing same-sex attraction.

He encouraged them to stand firm amid societal pressures and recent controversy over comments from Pope Francis regarding same-sex civil unions.

“Brave men and women of ‘Courage,’ thank you for your witness. Please continue to take up the challenge that St. John Paul II issued on October 22, 1978: ‘Be not afraid! Open the doors to Christ!’” Weigel wrote in a Nov. 11 open letter published at First Things.

Courage offers resources to people experiencing same-sex attraction to help them live chaste lives according to Church teaching. Founded in 1980, the group today has more than 150 chapters in 18 countries.

“Your courage should inspire every Catholic to a similar fidelity, and to the mutual, prayerful support that helps sustain the integrity of love,” Weigel continued.

Weigel, who wrote the definitive biography of Pope St. John Paul II in 1999, noted that the “licentious” current culture can make living a chaste life difficult for anyone.

“Against fierce cultural and social pressures, you strive—with the help of grace, your pastors, and each other—to live the Catholic ethic of human love even as you experience same-sex attractions. Your efforts at fidelity bespeak deep faith, a powerful hope, and authentic love,” Weigel wrote.

Weigel’s letter was prompted by a recent controversy over a documentary film, “Francesco,” which features interviews with Pope Francis and includes a brief section in which, during a discussion of pastoral care of Catholics who identify as LGBT, the pope appears to offer support for civil union laws for same-sex couples.

The Vatican has since clarified that the pope’s comments do not pertain to Catholic doctrine regarding the nature of marriage, but to provisions of civil law in the specific context of a 2010 same-sex marriage bill in the Argentine legislature, which Pope Francis, who was then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, opposed. He had proposed the idea of civil unions as a compromise to avoid the legal redefinition of marriage.

Nevertheless, the pope’s remarks garnered praise from some Catholics who wish to see a change in the Church’s teaching on same-sex marriage, even though Pope Francis has frequently affirmed the doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church that marriage is a lifelong partnership between one man and one woman.

Describing the pope’s comments as “cut-and-pasted by an agenda-driven filmmaker,” Weigel noted that informal remarks by a pope to a filmmaker do not constitute an expression of the papal teaching office.

Moreover, he noted that the Church’s teaching on what constitutes marriage “cannot change, because it is rooted in divine revelation and attested by reason.”

Weigel’s remarks echo those of Father Philip Bochanski, Courage’s director, who wrote a letter to the people of Courage on Oct. 22 in response to the pope’s remarks.

“[The] truth — that God has established a unique context for the total gift of self that is reflected in sexual intimacy — is rooted in the nature of the human person, in the revealed Word of God, and in the consistent teaching of the Church,” Bochanski wrote.

“That sexual relations are only morally good in the context of a permanent, faithful marriage between a man and a woman whose relations are open to having children is a teaching that cannot and will not be changed by anyone.”

Bochanski cited a 2003 document approved by Pope John Paul II and written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, in which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith taught that “respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.”

Even if civil unions might be chosen by people other than same-sex couples, like siblings or committed friends, the CDF said that homosexual relationships would be “foreseen and approved by the law,” and that civil unions “would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage.”

Bochanski noted that Pope Francis began his remarks in the video by insisting that people who experience same-sex attractions must never be rejected or excluded by their own families, which is consistent with the Church’s teaching that people who experience same-sex attraction must be “accepted with respect and sensitivity.”

“You members of Courage who make so many sacrifices as you strive for chastity, prayerful fellowship, and authentic friendship are a heroic witness to the world that a person doesn’t need to be in a sexual relationship in order to give and receive love that is sincere, loyal and fulfilling,” Bochanski wrote.

“I know that the media chatter over the last few days has left you feeling anxious, unseen and even rejected, but nothing could be farther from the reality. The teaching of the Church on these important matters is embodied and made clear in your daily lives. The Pope’s remarks about loving and protecting our brothers and sisters who experience same-sex attractions don’t detract from your sacrificial, heroic witness — they depend on it!”