Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Weigel Lecture at UofR December 5th at 7:30pm

November 25th, 2013, Promulgated by b a

About 7 months ago Dominick Anthony Zarcone contributed a nice review of George Weigel’s recent book “Evangelical Catholicism”. I love Dominick’s evangelical zeal and I believe he brought out the best in Weigel’s book and I’m glad he contributes to this blog. However, about a month later, I read the first half of the book myself before I decided that the book was rather problematic. I wrote the first post in what I had planned to be a series that would highlight both some problems with Weigel and some general problems that I’ve been seeing in some so-called “orthodox” and “conservative” circles. However, life got in the way and my writing efforts were significantly delayed (perhaps providentially). It ended up that much of what I was planning to say in that upcoming series, I ended up scattering in the comments sections of a couple different posts (here and here). I have yet to back up my concerns with quotes from the book. Fast forward a little further and it turns out that Weigel is shortly coming to our area to give a talk.

You can download the flier here.

George Weigel to deliver Newman Lecture “21st Century Catholics in an Unfamiliar America”

The Catholic Newman Community at the University of Rochester is proud to host George Weigel, the definitive biographer of Pope John Paul II and critically acclaimed author of over 15 books, who will give the John Henry Cardinal Newman Lecture on December 5th at 7:30pm at the University of Rochester’s Interfaith Chapel.

Weigel’s lecture will explore challenges to Catholicism in 21st Century America —a newly aggressive secularism, threats to religious freedom, confusions within the Church itself—and suggest how Catholics can meet those challenges by embracing the evangelical vocation into which they were baptized.

The Interfaith Chapel is handicap accessible and can be found at 320 Wilson Blvd in Rochester. Free parking is available. For more information and directions please visit .

When: Thursday evening Dec 5 at 7:30 pm

Where: UR Interfaith Chapel main level
320 Wilson Blvd., Rochester, NY 14620

I’m guessing Weigel’s talk will be mostly good (as is his book Evangelical Catholicism). One thing he does a great job of is beating down liberalism and pointing out how incoherent it is. And who can argue with emphasizing friendship with Jesus? I’d also guess, though, that Weigel’s talk will be littered with some of the same errors and misconceptions he articulates in his book. I’m finally getting around to collecting some of the problematic passages from “Evangelical Catholicism” (just from the first half of the book as I quit reading it) that I promised so long ago. My intent is to do a short series of posts over the next couple of weeks which will highlight the following high level problems:

1) In Weigel’s mind “Counter Reformational/Catechetical-Devotional” Catholicism is no longer useful.
2) Weigel doesn’t nuance his attack on traditional Catholicism.
3) The way he portrays history and weaves his “Evangelical” Catholicism in and out as he sees fit, retroactively applying it to everything good in Catholic history is just plain suspect. His redrawing of the lines to Leo XIII is an attempt to hide his dependence on nouvelle-theologie.
4) Using a term like “Evangelical Catholicism” creates all sorts or problems.


8 Responses to “Weigel Lecture at UofR December 5th at 7:30pm”

  1. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    “There is an over-emphasis on evangelization….”

    How providential that one can reply to the above phrase with the announcement of a Pope Francis encyclical!

    Recently I wrote George Weigel an email asking him to explain in detail why catechetical devotional counter-reformation catholicism has no place in his understanding of evangelical catholicism. He replied the very next day writing he would address this concern at his December 5 talk in Rochester.

    My hope is that our questions will be answered satisfactorily.

    Will we then be able to extend the “right hand of fellowship” to this our Catholic brother in Christ?

    Come and See…..

  2. Ben Anderson says:

    ha! Divine providence, indeed. I figured that last point would be kind of an eye-brow raiser which I am planning on heavily nuancing in the upcoming post 🙂 I’m looking forward to reading what our Holy Father has written to us.

  3. Ben Anderson says:

    I changed my #4 as it was misleading w/out further clarification.

  4. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    “Using a term like ‘Evangelical Catholicism’ creates all sorts of problems.”

    I understand how the term ‘evangelical’ which has been used by protestant Christians who reject Catholicism can potentially create a problem for the faithful who accept Sacred Tradition and reject protestant errors.

    How does one make sense of using ‘evangelical’ to describe Catholicism in the late 20th early 21st century? The following analogy works for me.

    “Catholic apologists explain that the Bible came from the Church and as such is the Church’s book. Yet, the Bible now exists outside the visible Church. Likewise, evangelical is a term which both comes from and describes the Church’s faith, identity, and mission. And yet, the term exists outside the visible Church.

    Just as that which is biblical belongs to the Catholic Church and that which is Catholic is biblical or not opposed to the Bible, that which is genuinely evangelical belongs to the Church and that which is authentically Catholic is evangelical.

    The Gospel (the evangel, the good news) is all about Jesus. The Catholic Church’s faith/identity/mission is all about Jesus. Thus, in my way of thinking, the Catholic Church of Christ is evangelical.”

    Our controversial author Weigel closes his book’s prologue (entitled ‘An Invitation to EC and Deep Catholic Reform) by asserting on pages 5 & 6 that “Evangelical Catholicism encourages a profound reflection on the missionary heart of the Church and on how that missionary heart might be expressed in the 21st century and beyond”. By promulgating his new encyclical GAUDIUM EVANGELII, I sense that Pope Francis himself whole heartily agrees!

    A criticism (which should have been expressed when I first wrote the 4 part review of Weigel’s book) can be made while still accepting his description of and prescription for the Catholic Church. The word ‘reform’ can be problematic because of fears using this word amounts to another attempt at protestantizing the Church.

    Renewal or Purification, in my understanding of Catholicism, are more precise and theologically accurate expressions of the Holy Spirit’s renewing and purifying work in both Christ’s Mystical Body the Church and in individual believing members.

    “the Church, embracing in its bosom sinners, at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, always follows the way of penance and renewal.” (Lumen Gentium 8)

    And again, “make a careful and honest appraisal of whatever needs to be done or renewed in the Catholic household itself, in order that its life may bear witness more clearly and faithfully to the teachings and institutions which have come to it from Christ through the Apostles.

    For although the Catholic Church has been endowed with all divinely revealed truth and with all means of grace, yet its members fail to live by them with all the fervor that they should, so that the radiance of the Church’s image is less clear…. each according to his station, play his part that the Church may daily be more purified and renewed”.
    (Unitatis Redintegratio 4)

  5. Diane Harris says:
    is an Apostolic Exhortation.

    These are the subjects identified within:
    a) the reform of the Church in her missionary outreach;
    b) the temptations faced by pastoral workers;
    c) the Church, understood as the entire People of God which evangelizes;
    d) the homily and its preparation;
    e) the inclusion of the poor in society;
    f) peace and dialogue within society;
    g) the spiritual motivations for mission.

  6. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Oops….not an encyclical; An Apostolic Exhortation

    Thank you for your link, Diane.

    This one just came to my phone:
    Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World (24 November 2013)

    Vía ThePopeApp

  7. Diane Harris says:

    Thanks, Dominic. Dont you just LOVE how readable Papa Francesco is?

  8. Diane Harris says:

    I should have added above that Church Militant / Michael Voris has an important message this evening about the humility of Pope Francis in accepting criticism, and in his being a beacon of all that is truly Catholic. The triumph belongs to the Holy Spirit. See here:

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