Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Evangelical Catholicism

July 8th, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone
Evangelical Catholicism

Evangelical Catholicism


“It is unreasonable and unrealistic. No way. It will never happen.” Such is the reaction by those who think the deep reform to be realized by Evangelical Catholicism is simply too hard or too radical.

My response to like-minded gainsayers would include an assertion that they have lost an eternal perspective and any sense of the supernatural. Either they have forgotten or never knew the Gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”. Christ crucified is the power and wisdom of God and the preaching of the cross to those of us who are being saved is the power of God. (See Romans 1:16 and 1 Corinthians 1:17, 18, 24)

Salvation History and the testimony of Sacred Scripture give credible witness to genuine Christian potential when “pastors are preaching the Gospel without compromise, celebrating the sacramental mysteries with dignity and grace, servicing the marginalized and thereby ‘equipping the saints’ for mission.” (Page 23)

I am convinced that we can grasp the evangelical essence of Vatican II and thus live the missionary discipleship taught and modeled by John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis when we Catholics become:

  1. deeply converted
  2. thoroughly catechized
  3. sacramentally enriched
  4. evangelically impassioned for launching out ‘into the deep’

None of us, however, are so naïve to believe the non-evangelized, poorly catechized, liturgically bored and morally confused are ready to launch out into the deep.

George Weigel would agree. Therefore, in his “EVANGELICAL CATHOLICISM Deep Reform in the 21st Century Church” author Weigel sketches for his readers a proposal for this particular mode of Catholicism; a detailed proposal that Weigel confidently believes will be embraced enthusiastically.

Readers of Weigel’s book will discover that his proposal/description of Evangelical Catholicism equates pertinent applications of Vatican II’s teaching to the circumstance and situation in which the Church finds herself today in postmodernity.

Examples include:

  1. Today’s endless searching for the divine (being a subjective seeker) is precisely the opposite of Divine Revelation through Jesus Christ and our response in faith (being found by Grace). See pages 26-28, entitled, Not “Spirituality”
  2. Because Christian faith is revealed faith, modern anxiety, postmodern malaise, and radical subjectivity and secularization are best met by a proclamation of the good news of biblical revelation by announcing “The Gospel reveals” instead of starting with “The Church teaches”. Weigel explains that because there is an inherent connection between divine revelation and the Church, starting with “The Gospel reveals” eventually leads antiauthoritarian bias to realization and acceptance that “The Church teaches”(Pages 28-31)
  3. The Gospel restores Jesus Christ to the center of the Church and makes the Church ‘Christocentric’ offering friendship with Jesus and his sovereign, gentle yoke as the meaning and purpose of human life, calling us to repentance, faith and ongoing conversion, inviting believing disciples into the Kingdom of God. (Page 34)
  4. Doctrinal clarity and purity are important because clarity of Catholic identity follows as we are equipped to become witnesses throughout the process of life long conversion which deepens intimate friendship with Christ. (Page 36)

Is Evangelical Catholicism asking and expecting too much? No, in fact anything less is not good enough.

George Weigel insists that the Second Vatican Council intended to implement deep Catholic reform by putting all that God has revealed for our salvation in Holy Scripture and in apostolic tradition at the center of Catholic life and by proclaiming that same Gospel of Jesus Christ as really good news. Weigel theologically proposes Dei Verbum to be the key Vatican II document for Evangelical Catholicism’s deep reform of the Catholic Church because Divine Revelation is the self-disclosure of God himself and all those truths God wished to reveal for our salvation; the Divine Revelation and its transmission is fact, not pious myth. (Page 39)

We who have been found by grace can give witness to the revealed good news and the Word of God which itself has an inherent power to convert. We will joyfully see the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ restored to the center of our own hearts and to the heart of God’s Catholic Church.

If faithful to Christ’s evangelical mission, we will behold the deep reform intended by the Second Vatican Council which Weigel names Evangelical Catholicism.

Will you join me in praying for the evangelical fervor that only God’s Spirit can provide?

“Come, Holy Spirit, Come!”


15 Responses to “Evangelical Catholicism”

  1. christian says:

    “Will you join me in praying for the evangelical fervor that only God’s Spirit can provide?”
    – Yes, I will.

  2. annonymouse says:

    Weigel is long on prescriptions for the Church, and they are excellent and well-thought-out. If there’s a weakness to his work, it is in the “how.” HOW do we get from here to there? The very existence of this site and its well-documented instances of division and divisiveness do not bode well for Weigel’s vision, which is founded on a Church united behind the magisterium, and a magisterium united with the Bishop of Rome. So long as the Church remains divided by factions battling to remake her in their own image, the Church will lack the evangelical fervor of which Weigel writes so eloquently.

    Pray we must. For only by the power of Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit, may the Church fulfill her mission, which is the commission Our Lord gave to her.

  3. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Beloved Christian, thank you for your promise to pray.

    Beloved annonymouse, while this website is dedicated
    to Catholic truth and tradition, I am sure some who
    are less dedicated will disagree. Because I am unsure
    about which documented divisions and divisiveness you
    refer, I can’t comment.

    However, your perceived weakness in Weigel’s book
    about the how, how to get from the here to there, is
    worth a discussion.

    Your last sentence has the answer therein.
    Moreover, the basis of evangelical Catholicism
    is friendship with Jesus, committed discipleship
    to our friend and Lord, and adherence to his truth
    and mission by means of vibrant faith in
    and celebrations of his word and sacraments.

    Pope Francis gets it. It has already started.

    Come and see.

  4. annonymouse says:

    DAZ – the divisions and divisiveness in the Church, and DoR in particular, are why this website exists. Despite the wishes of some here who would have the magisterium lead us differently, this site does indeed exist and is dedicated to Catholic truth and tradition. The problem, and this cannot be argued, is that not all who call themselves “Catholic” are so dedicated (one glance at the NCR or America is all it takes to see this). If embracing Evangelical Catholicism (embracing our commission) hinges on unity behind the magisterium (unity with the Pope), how do we get there? How do we stop the infighting and all embrace Catholic truth and tradition, such that we can be a credible witness to non-believers?

    Make no mistake, the evil one wishes the infighting to continue. It cripples the Church’s witness and mission, and souls are being lost.

    Perhaps the answer lies in the last few lines of your post – perhaps Francis will truly be a “pontifex” – a bridge builder – and with God’s grace bring about greater unity so that the Church may be who she is called to be. May our next bishop be as well.

  5. Jim says:

    Dominick, thanks for sharing this series with us…it is definitely good food for thought for ALL Catholics. The journey is long, but can be taken one step at a time.

  6. Richard Thomas says:

    I really hope that we receive a holy bishop dedicated to the Majesterial teachings of the Church. With his few faithful priests, they can begin preaching on all the sxual issues I mention in these posts. Hopefully, they will bring in speakers to various parishes to teach the parents, youth and youth ministers. We must win over the sheep, one at a time.

  7. gaudium says:

    If you want to experience Evangelical Catholicism, go to Franciscan University for a visit one day during the academic year. Pick a weekday in Ordinary Time and go to one daily Mass. The faith, joy, and orthodox fervor of the students will give you great hope for the future of the Church.

  8. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    gaudium, my favorite spot in the whole of the USA is the “port” at Franciscan U. (Can you guess what my favorite spot is in the whole of Europe?….yep, the portiuncula in Assisi….of which the port is a replica.)

    “The problem…….is that not all who call themselves “Catholic” are so dedicated…..”

    annonymouse, I am convinced that George Weigel would agree with your statement quoted here in part regarding calling your self Catholic and genuinely being Catholic. In his book, Weigel asserts that there are ‘baptized pagans’ in the Church and there are those who call themselves Catholic but actually believe something else. We must refrain from arguing with them.

    It is all about Jesus….to what extent are we (the bishops, the priests, the deacons, the consecrated religious, the laity) converted to Jesus? Have we become his friends, committed to becoming his disciples, zealous to learn and live his truth and then share it, pass it on, making disciples of everyone we meet? A sad truth? There are far too few who have become friends of Jesus and are able to invite others to that same friendship.

    Evangelization is essential.

    Therefore, what do we do, annonymouse and Richard Thomas? Argue and debate? Of course not. Try to catechize the non-evangelized? It has not worked yet and will not in the future.

    Curtis Martin in an interview published in the Summer 2013 Franciscan University magazine, “Franciscan Way”, pages 34-35 gives some answers.

    1) Whether it is Paul on the road to Damascus or Peter in the fishing boat when he dropped his nets, a profound encounter with Jesus Christ means everything changes. What are each of us doing during the “Year of Faith” to encounter Jesus anew and be changed even more?
    2) We must share the Good News out of authentic joy, to sit with people we know and love and share with them what makes us joyful and happy. Got courage to do that with clergy who are willing to sit down and share faith?
    3) Each of us needs to be re-evangelized; Pope Benedict XVI challenged us to practice lectio divina, the prayerful reading of Scripture every day for 10 or 15 minutes.
    4) Those who are away from the Church (either those in Church but still ‘away’ or those not there physically) have a primary need to be evangelized (by not saying, “Let me tell you what the Church says”) but by offering the witness of joy in the Lord. Then they will want to know Jesus and how to follow him.
    5) Our job is to prove that we love them more than we disapprove of their behavior. THAT IS MODELING CHRIST, WHO LOVED US WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS. (Yet, religious leaders were told they were hypocrites and vipers in danger of not escaping hell….)

    annonymouse wrote, “If embracing Evangelical Catholicism (embracing our commission) hinges on unity behind the magisterium (unity with the Pope), how do we get there? How do we stop the infighting and all embrace Catholic truth and tradition, such that we can be a credible witness to non-believers?”

    Could the answer be ‘one soul at a time’?

    In a certain sense, Catholics in authority who aren’t genuinely Catholic have pyschologically already separated themselves and are psychologically schismatic. No sense arguing with them or trying to talk them in or out of anything. (I wish Saint Bernard’s well from a distance. I choose not to accept their invitations. However, we must not stop naming the errors, abuses and the terrible attacks on truth and tradition. But I am not going to run down the street to try to catch up with them and talk them out of their dissent and their refusal to obey the truth.) If opportunities present themselves, though, I would share with them God’s gift to me of the joy of the Lord and ask them to share their stories of faith and ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide.

    The Church is ever ancient and ever new and her Evangelical Catholicism is alive and well.

    So let us ‘Keep on keeping on’ one soul at a time.

    May Jesus Christ be praised; Now and forever.

  9. gaudium says:

    Ahh, the Port! It is especially moving to go there at 3:00 in the morning and see a couple of young men kneeling on the stone floor adoring the Eucharistic Christ.

  10. Richard Thomas says:

    I am arguing anything. I am simply stating that unless sexual ethics are preached, all this talk about evangelization will be simply hot air. Right now, we are dealing with a Church that is hiding its head in the sand while the Culture runs wild. It won’t change until preaching and teaching sexual ethics is an integral part of Catholic life.

  11. annonymouse says:

    DAZ – that is beautiful, powerful, and inspiring. Thank you for that.

    Richard – please re-read DAZ: “Our job is to prove that we love them more than we disapprove of their behavior. THAT IS MODELING CHRIST, WHO LOVED US WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS.” And re-read it again, and again, and again.

  12. Richard Thomas says:

    Wait a minute. Stop confusing permission of bad behavior with love.

    Christ never ever tolerated bad behavior. He always was correcting the apostles and scripture is filled with incidences where he loved sinners but pointed out their bad behavior, in a very teachable way.

    With the state the Church is in, sexual ethics has been totally ignored for 40 years and we are in a huge mess.

    And preaching the gospel concerning sexual ethics is loving sinners. There is so much helpful and useful information for families, single people and married couples for their welfare and well being.

    With all the terrible sequella concerning acting out of sexual behavior on these issues, we would NOT be loving someone if we did not preach it. We would be putting our light under a basket

  13. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Richard Thomas, I agree that the truth of
    Sexual morality must be offered Catholics
    and that the many very good resources/materials
    need to be disseminated.

    The point made earlier in the comments is all
    about getting their attention. How do we friends
    of the Lord Jesus who are committed disciples rejoicing
    In Christ’s good news get the attention of the
    baptized pagans who have been sacramentalized
    but never evangelized?

    How can we convince sinners who never experienced
    a life transforming encounter with the Savior
    that they should read our materials, come to our talks
    and go to confession acknowledging they had
    been seduced by the culture of death?

    Catechize the unevangelized?

    No. Rather let’s try proving our love for them so
    that they experience our love more than our disapproval
    of their behavior.

    Your love, concern and friendship will draw sinners
    to your joy in the Lord . They will want your joy,
    your abundant life in Christ, they will want your
    forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life.

    Then they will hunger and thirst for Christ’s
    sexual morality and selfless, sacrificial, love.

    Other wise keep insisting sinners get correct
    doctrine, and correct catechesis, Maybe they
    will find the Lord. I think they have a better
    opportunity to encounter him in your joyful
    life and witness.

    No one is suggesting we confuse permission
    for bad behavior with love. Show them Jesus in
    You and the rest will follow.

    I don’t want to just re-offer rules broken all their lives.

    “Be ready to give a reason for the hope in you
    and conduct yourselves wisely letting your speech
    always be gracious so that you may know how
    to answer every one.” (Pet. 3:15; Col. 4;5,6)

  14. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    In Mark 6:34 we read:

    “And Jesus going out saw a great multitude:
    and he had compassion on them, because
    they were as sheep not having a shepherd,
    and he began to teach them many things”

    The Lord had their attention!

    Let’s get our beloved people’s attention and bring
    them to an encounter with the Master who
    will teach the truth that sets all of us free..

  15. annonymouse says:

    DAZ – write more. Your joy and zeal are infectious!

    Looking ahead to this Sunday’s Gospel, we have Our Lord telling us exactly what love means. And He contrasts that love with the strict “rule-followers” – the priest and Levite, who follow the purity law but ignore the need to love.

    Now we should follow rules (out of love for The Lord) and RT is right that leading people out of sin is loving, but DAZ hits the nail on the head – evangelization means they must be drawn in by our infectious love and joy and hope in Christ Jesus.

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