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Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II (2017)
In Lessons in Hope, George Weigel tells the story of his unique friendship with St. John Paul II. As Weigel learns the pope "from inside," he also offers a firsthand account of the tumult of post-Vatican II Catholicism and the Cold War's endgame, introducing readers to the heroes who brought down European communism. Later, he shows us the aging pope grappling with the post-9/11 world order and teaching new lessons in dignity through his own suffering.
A deeply humane portrait of an eminent scholar learning a saint, Lessons in Hope is essential reading for anyone seeking a fuller understanding of a world-changing pope.
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City of Saints: A Pilgrimage to John Paul II's Kraków (2015)
In this beautifully illustrated spiritual travelogue, George Weigel leads readers through the historic streets of Kraków, Poland, introducing one of the world’s great cities through the life of one of the most influential Catholic leaders of all time.
“To follow Karol Wojtyła through Kraków is to follow an itinerary of sanctity while learning the story of a city.” Weigel writes. “Thus, in what follows, the story of Karol Wojtyła, St. John Paul II, and the story of Kraków are interwoven in a chronological pilgrimage through the life of a saint that reveals, at the same time, the dramatic history and majestic culture of a city where a boy grew into a man, priest, a bishop—and an apostle to the world.”
With stunning photographs by Stephen Weigel and notes on the city’s remarkable fabric by Carrie Gress, City of Saints offers an in-depth look at a man and a city that made an indelible impression on the life and thought of the Catholic Church and the 21st century world.
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Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church (2013)
The Catholic Church is on the threshold of a bold new era in its two-thousand year history. As the curtain comes down on the Church defined by the 16th-century Counter-Reformation, the curtain is rising on the Evangelical Catholicism of the third millennium: a way of being Catholic that comes from over a century of Catholic reform; a mission-centered renewal honed by the Second Vatican Council and given compelling expression by Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
The Gospel-centered Evangelical Catholicism of the future will send all the people of the Church into mission territory every day—a territory increasingly defined in the West by spiritual boredom and aggressive secularism. Confronting both these cultural challenges and the shadows cast by recent Catholic history, Evangelical Catholicism unapologetically proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the truth of the world. It also molds disciples who witness to faith, hope, and love by the quality of their lives and the nobility of their aspirations. Thus the Catholicism of the 21st–century and beyond will be a culture-forming counterculture, offering all men and women of good will a deeply humane alternative to the soul-stifling self-absorption of postmodernity.
Drawing on thirty years of experience throughout the Catholic world, from its humblest parishes to its highest levels of authority, George Weigel proposes a deepening of faith-based and mission-driven Catholic reform that touches every facet of Catholic life—from the episcopate and the papacy to the priesthood and the consecrated life; from the renewal of the lay vocation in the world to the redefinition of the Church's engagement with public life; from the liturgy to the Church's intellectual life. Lay Catholics and clergy alike should welcome the challenge of this unique moment in the Church's history, Weigel urges. Mediocrity is not an option, and all Catholics, no matter what their station in life, are called to live the evangelical vocation into which they were baptized: without compromise, but with the joy, courage, and confidence that comes from living this side of the Resurrection.
| Against the Grain: Christianity and Democracy, War and Peace (2008) |
Cutting against the grain of conventional wisdom, New York Times bestseller, George Weigel, offers a compelling look at the ways in which Catholic social teaching sheds light on the challenges of peace, the problem of pluralism, the quest for human rights, and the defense of liberty. In this major contribution one of America's most prominent intellectuals offers a meticulous analysis of the foundations of the free society as he makes a powerful case for the role of moral reasoning in meeting the threats to human dignity posed by debonair nihilism, jihadist violence, and the brave new world of manufactured men and women.
| Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action (2007) |
“History must be made to march in the direction of genuine human progress; world affairs have no intrinsic momentum that necessarily results in the victory of decency. Maintaining the morale necessary to achieving progress in history requires us to live our lives, today, against a moral horizon of responsibility that is wider and deeper than the quest for personal satisfactions. The future of our civilization does not rest merely on the advance of material wealth and technological prowess; the future of the West turns on the question of whether our spiritual aspirations are noble or base.” —from Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism
More than half a decade after 9/11, safe passage through a moment of history fraught with both peril and possibility requires Americans across the political spectrum to see things as they are.
In this incisive, engaging study of the present danger and what we must do to prevail against it, George Weigel, one of America’s foremost public intellectuals, does precisely that: he sees, and describes, things as they are—and as they might be. Drawing on a quarter century of experience at the intersection of moral argument and public policy, he describes rigorously and clearly the threat posed by global jihadism: the religiously inspired ideology which teaches that it is the moral obligation of all Muslims to employ whatever means are necessary to compel the world’s submission to Islam. Exploring that ideology’s theological, social, cultural, and political roots, Weigel points a new direction for both public policy and interreligious dialogue, one that meets the challenge of jihadism forthrightly while creating the conditions for a less threatening, more mutually enriching encounter between Islam and the West.
Essential reading in a time of momentous political decisions, Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism is a clarion call for a new seriousness of debate and a new clarity of purpose in American public life.
| God's Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church (2005) |
Publisher's Weekly The biographer of Pope John Paul II (Witness to Hope) chronicles the transition between John Paul's papacy and that of his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, in this blend of history, biography, analysis and forecasting. Readers familiar with John Paul's papacy will be tempted to skip over the first three chapters summarizing the late pope's life, plunging instead into what Weigel has to say about the new pontiff and how he was elected in one of the shortest conclaves in papal history. Of particular interest is Weigel's diary of the conclave, which combines his own observations with those of journalists, Vatican officials and cardinal-electors, none of whom, he attests, violated the oath of confidentiality in talking with him. His insights into Benedict are compelling and defy the caricature of the former cardinal as "God's Rottweiler." In a look toward the future church Benedict has the potential to shape, Weigel suggests the new pope is not likely to bring about revolutionary change in the area of liturgy and theological dissent, but could introduce reforms in such areas as Vatican diplomacy, the curial structure and the selection of bishops. The author's access to sources in and around the Vatican paired with his accessible writing style make this good reading for a broad audience.
| The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God (2005) |
Why do Europeans and Americans see the world so differently? Why do Europeans and Americans have such different understandings of democracy in the twenty-first century? Why is Europe dying, demographically? In The Cube and the Cathedral, George Weigel offers a penetrating critique of "Europe's problem" and draws out its lessons for the rest of the democratic world. Contrasting the civilization that produced the starkly modernist "cube" of the Great Arch of La Defense in Paris with the civilization that produced the "cathedral," Notre-Dame, Weigel argues that Europe's embrace of a narrow and cramped secularism has led to a crisis of civilizational morale that is eroding Europe's soul and failing to create the European future. Even as thoughtful Europeans and Americans wrestle with these grave issues, many European political leaders continue to insist-most recently, during the debate over a new European constitution-that only a public square shorn of religiously informed moral argument is safe for human rights and democracy. The most profound question raised by The Cube and the Cathedral is whether there can be any true "politics"-any true deliberation about the common good, and any robust defense of freedom-without God. George Weigel makes a powerful case that the answer is "No"-because, in the final analysis, societies and cultures can only be as great as their spiritual aspirations.
| Letters to a Young Catholic (2004) |
In this remarkable tour of the Catholic world, George Weigel helps us understand how Catholicism fosters what Flannery O'Connor called "the habit of being." Taking the reader by the hand, Weigel embarks on a journey to Catholic landmarks as diverse as Chartres Cathedral and St. Mary's Church in Greenville, South Carolina; the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and G.K. Chesterton's favorite pub; the grave of a modern martyr in Warsaw, and the Sistine Chapel. Weaving together insights from history, literature, theology, and music, Weigel uses these touchstones to illuminate the beliefs that have shaped Catholicism for two thousand years. With clarity and conviction, Weigel examines the foundations of Catholic faith and explores the topics of grace, prayer, vocation, sin and forgiveness, suffering, and-most importantly-love. Putting a dramatic face on this invitation to Catholicism, Weigel introduces some of the figures who have shaped his faith and thought-Michelangelo and Fra Angelico; Evelyn Waugh and Cardinal John Henry Newman; Father Jerzy Popieuszko and Pope John Paul II; Edith Stein and Mother Teresa-as he also shares anecdotes from his own Catholic life. To a world that sometimes seems closed and claustrophobic, he suggests, Christian humanism offers a world with windows and doors-and a skylight. In these letters, George Weigel conveys the power of a faith that is at once personal and universal, timely and eternal. His book will inspire not only the young generation of Catholics whose World Youth Day celebrations have launched an era of renewal for the Church, but also the faithful, the doubtful, and the searchers of every age.
| The Courage to Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform and the Future of the Church (2002) |
When sexual scandals rocked the American Catholic Church, many observers and faithful alike called on the church to abandon its tenets on the vocation of the priesthood and sexuality outside marriage-to, in effect, become more Protestant. Acclaimed theologian and best-selling author George Weigel saw the crisis differently: as a crisis of fidelity to the true essence of Catholicism. In this well-reviewed book that touched a chord with so many practicing Catholics, Weigel examines the scandal in the context of church history, and exposes the patterns of dissent and self-deception that became entrenched in seminaries, among priests, and ultimately among the bishops who failed their flock by thinking like managers instead of apostles. But, Weigel reminds us, in the Biblical world a "crisis" is also a time of great opportunity, an invitation to deeper faith. With honesty and critical rigor, Weigel sets forth an agenda for genuine reform that challenges clergy and laity alike to lead more integrally Catholic lives. More than just a response to recent failures, The Courage to Be Catholic is a bracing, forward-looking call to action, and a passionate embrace of life lived in faith.
| The Truth of Catholicism: Inside the Essential Teachings and Controversies of the Church Today (2001) |
The Catholic Church may be the most controversial institution in the world. Whether the question is the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, the relationship of Catholicism to other religious communities, the meaning of freedom, the use and abuse of sex, the dignity of human life from conception until natural death, or the role of women, the Catholic Church has taken challenging positions that some find inexplicable, even cruel.
In The Truth of Catholicism, George Weigel explores these perennial questions and more, showing Catholicism and its controversies from "inside" the convictions that make those controversies not only possible but necessary. The truths of Catholicism then come into clearer focus as affirmations and celebrations of human life and human love, even as they challenge us to imagine a daring future for humanity and for ourselves.
| Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (2001) |
Given unprecedented access to Pope John Paul II and the people who have known and worked with him throughout his life, George Weigel presents a groundbreaking portrait of the Pope as a man, a thinker, and a leader whose religious convictions have defined a new approach to world politics--and changed the course of history.
John Paul II has systematically addressed every major question on the world's agenda at the turn of the millennium: the human yearning for the sacred, the meaning of freedom, the glories and challenges of human sexuality, the promise of the women's movement, the quest for a new world order, the nature of good and evil, the moral challenge of prosperity, and the imperative of human solidarity in the emerging global civilization.By bringing the age-old wisdom of biblical religion into active conversation with contemporary life and thought, the Pope "from a far country" has crafted a challenging proposal for the human future that is without parallel in the modern world.
Weigel explores new information about the Pope's role in some of the recent past's most stirring events, including the fall of communism; the Vatican/Israel negotiation of 1991-92; the collapse of the Philippine, Chilean, Nicaraguan, and Paraguayan dictatorships during the 1980s; and the epic papal visit to Cuba. Weigel also includes previously unpublished papal correspondence with Leonid Brezhnev, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Deng Xiaoping, and draws on hitherto unavailable autobiographical reminiscences by the Pope.
Witness to Hope also discusses the Pope's efforts to build bridges to other Christian communities, and to Judaism, Islam, and other great world religions; presents an analysis of John Paul's proposals for strengthening democratic societies in the twenty-first century; and offers synopses of every major teaching document in the pontificate.
Rounding out the dramatic story of Pope John Paul II are fresh translations of his poetry; detailed personal anecdotes of the Pope as a young man, priest, and friend, sketched by those who knew him best; and in-depth interviews with Catholic leaders throughout the world.
A magisterial biography of one of the most important figures--some might argue, the most important figure--of the twentieth century, Witness to Hope is an extraordinary testimony to the man and his accomplishments, and a papal biography unlike any other.
| Soul of the World: Notes on the Future of Public Catholicism (1996) |
| Idealism Without Illusions/U.S. Foreign Policy in the 1990's (1994) |
| The Final Revolution: The Resistance Church and the Collapse of Communism (1992) |
The collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe--the Revolution of 1989--was a singularly stunning event in a century already known for the unexpected. How did people divided for two generations by an Iron Curtain come so suddenly to dance together atop the Berlin Wall? Why did people who had once seemed resigned to their fate suddenly take their future into their own hands? Some analysts have explained the Revolution in economic terms, arguing that the Warsaw Pact countries could no longer compete with the West. But as George Weigel argues in this thought-provoking volume, people don't put their lives, and their children's futures, in harm's way simply for better cars, refrigerators, and TVs. Something else--something more--had to happen behind the iron curtain before the Wall came tumbling down.
In The Final Revolution, Weigel argues that that "something" was a revolution of conscience. The human turn to the good, to the truly human, and, ultimately, to God, was the key to the political Revolution of 1989. Weigel provides an in-depth exploration of how the Catholic Church shaped the moral revolution inside the political revolution. Drawing on extensive interviews with key leaders of the human rights and resistance movements, he opens a unique window into the soul of the Revolution and into the hearts and minds of those who shaped this stirring vindication of the human spirit.
Weigel also examines the central role played by Pope John Paul II in confronting what Vaclav Havel called communism's "culture of the lie," and he suggests what the future role of the Church might be in consolidating democracy in the countries of the old Warsaw Pact.
The "final revolution" is not the end of history, Weigel concludes. It is the human quest for a freedom that truly satisfies the deepest yearnings of the human heart. The Final Revolution illustrates how that quest changed the face of the twentieth century and redefined world politics in the year of miracles, 1989.
| Freedom and its Discontents: Catholicism Confronts Modernity (1991) |
How can an authoritative church avoid authoritarianism? How can a church committed to a dialogue with modern science and the humanities still hold itself accountable to an ancient religious tradition? How can a hierarchied church defend religious freedom and support the democratic revolution in world politics? George Weigel's exploration of these issues of the modern Catholic debate over freedom touches concerns far beyond Catholic circles.
| ||Catholicism and the Renewal of American Democracy (1989)|
| || Tranquillitas Ordinis: The Present Failure and Future Promise of American Catholic Thought on War and Peace (1987) |
n recent years, Roman Catholic bishops and activists have been highly visible in the public debate over issues such as nuclear arms control and U.S. policy in Central America. Until now, however, the evolution of American Catholic thought on these questions has received little attention. This book is the first comprehensive critical analysis of American Catholic thought on war and peace. The author's purpose is to evaluate the post-Vatican II transformation of the Church's approach to war/peace issues and to point a wiser direction for its future development. The book begins with a survey of American Catholicism's rich and sophisticated heritage of moral reasoning on war, peace, and political community. In a major reinterpretation of American Catholic history, Weigel shows how the American Bishops' development of a theology of democracy in the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries enriched the Church's classic understanding of peace as political community. Weigel thus challenges the now-prominent idea that the U.S. Catholic bishops were not seriously involved in the war-peace debate until the last decade. A highlight of the book is its detailed intellectual portrait of John Courtney Murray, S.J., whom Weigel calls the finest political theorist ever produced by the American Church. Weigel then demonstrates how, over the past generation, American Catholic intellectuals and publicists began to abandon their heritage, and thereby impoverished the theological and political argument over war and peace, security and freedom. The book analyzes the ideas of seven key figures in the transformation of the American Catholic war/peace debate--Dorothy Day, Gordon Zahn, Thomas Merton, Daniel and Philip Berrigan, James Douglass, and J. Bryan Hehir--and critically explores the U.S. bishops' recent involvement with nuclear and Central American policy. Recovering and developing the classic American Catholic heritage, Weigel argues, is essential to creating a wiser theology and politics whose concern for both peace and freedom challenges realists and idealists alike.