Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Final thoughts on “Evangelical Catholicism”

December 3rd, 2013, Promulgated by benanderson

I think everyone has probably had enough of the Weigel discussion here, so I’ll wrap it up with this final post… unless someone wants to report back after the upcoming lecture (I will not be able to attend). As I’ve stated, there is much good in Weigel’s “Evangelical Catholicism”. I obviously agree that Catholics ought to share their faith with others and put God first and foremost in their lives. If no one had shared their Catholic faith with me – I would be lost. I do my best to share my faith in a non-ostentatious way. Sometimes this is by simply planting seeds. Other times it’s more direct. Sometimes it can be discouraging. We must find our joy in knowing that we are doing God’s will (assuming we’ve properly discerned his will and our own will isn’t deceiving us). I am nowhere near an expert on this and I think Pope Francis’ point is that we don’t have to be. It’s a difficult thing to do and everyone has a different approach as everyone has different gifts. At the heart of it all must be a love for the other through of our love for God. I don’t know why I’m rambling about this, when Pope Francis has so recently written of it. Apparently it is now only available via pdf format. For kindle owners – did you know if you email your kindle email address, attach the pdf, and put “convert” in the subject line, it’ll convert it for you? The whole document is well worth reading, but especially the section titled SPIRIT-FILLED EVANGELIZERS.

I think everyone can admit that all these labels aren’t good (traditionalist, radtrad, neocon, etc). We are Catholics and we should be united. We’re never all going to agree on everything, but hopefully we can respect the various groups. I pray that Bishop Matano is just the man to help us with this (and to also bring in some lost sheep, and… about a million other things). He’s got a big task – I pray for him daily.

Here are some more random quotes from Weigel’s book. The reason these jumped out at me is because when you use labels like this, you almost naturally read them inversely. EC is this, but CR/CD is not. I know Weigel isn’t explicitly setting up this dichotomy, but the nature of the way he uses his labels almost implies it.

“These challenges can only be met by the deep reforms of EC” p5

and not by [FILL_IN_THE_BLANK] Catholicism. See how this works?

“Throughout the Western Catholic world, EC inspires genuine creativity in the intellectual life.” tp24

and [FILL_IN_THE_BLANK] Catholicism does not. You get the point.

“EC begins from an unapologetic confession of Christian faith as revealed faith” p30

“monophysitism has plagued Christianity for more than a millenium and a half and was a recurring theological and catechetical problem for CR Catholicism.” tp33

And so you see – you shouldn’t trust CR/CD.

paraphrasing – V2 was EC tp26

“In his 1847 novel, Loss and Gain, John Henry Newman captured the essential, radical quality of evangelical Catholic conviction about the act of faith being ordered to divine revelation.” p29

You see – V2 and Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman were examples of EC, but not CR/CD.

“doctrinal clarity and purity are important” mp36

Absolutely agree. So why knock the BC?

“EC embraces this rediscovery of beauty as a primary category for understanding God and his ways and applies it to the Church’s liturgy. Its approach to church architecture, church decoration, liturgical vesture, and all the other tangibles of the Church’s liturgical life proceeds from the question, “Is this beautiful in such a way that it helps disclose the living God in Word and Sacrament?” In that respect, EC’s approach to liturgy is not somewhere “between” the approaches favored by liturgical traditionalists and liturgical progressives, but ahead of the curve of the now-tiresome Liturgy Wars.” tp72

“Extraordinary Form of mass emerged in the CR” tp73

Really? All of it?

“EC takes sacramental prep and adult catechesis so seriously.”

“EC, following V2’s radical reorientation of the Church to the Gospel… ” bp28

“ECers are always ready to welcome non-Catholic Christians and nonbelievers to the Church’s worship as a means to Jesus Christ..” bp74

This is an interesting one and I’ll claim ignorance as I haven’t done much investigation, but I’m not sure inviting someone to mass would be the approach I’d take. I suppose it depends on the situation. For one thing, I’m not sure if that would really be effective and for another I’d be nervous that the mass might turn into Protestant style seeker services.

“the most educated Catholics in the history of the world” p22

I find this laughable (again, maybe because of where we live). This is a major problem with modern man – he thinks he is so smart, but meanwhile he is oh so ignorant. I believe Russel Shaw’s “open letter to the planners of Pope Benedict’s pastoral visit to the US” touches on this: Catholic World Report – April 06, 2011 – Please Look Behind the Bishops’ Potemkin Village

“It [EC] is, so to speak, all supernatural, all the time…

This seems rather at odds with Thomism. (many Catholics would do well to read Feser – I’ve learned a lot from his books “The Last Superstition” and “Aquinas”). I know V2 pushed a little in this direction, but saying “all supernatural, all the time” seems quite a bit of a stretch.

It might also be good to recall that Vatican 1 states, “If anyone says that the one, true God, our creator and lord, cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema.”

And from Humanae Vitae, “For the natural law, too, declares the will of God, and its faithful observance is necessary for men’s eternal salvation.”

The Church’s stance against contraception is completely based on the natural law. I know some refer to Onan and quoting scripture may be valid, but the modern arguments present in Humanae Vitae and in John Paul’s TOB is based on the natural law. This, and many other, moral situations in life aren’t based on supernatural revelation.

“In addressing issues of public policy in pluralistic and typically secular societies, however, EC speaks its second language which is the language of reason.” – p84

It’s like he’s implying that natural reason is only useful for convincing others. I tend to think God expects me to use my reasoning capabilies for more than just convincing non-believers on issues which we disagree on. Linking to Feser again to distinguish between the old natural law and the new natural law (a distinction I didn’t know existed until several months ago).

I found this to be an interesting review of the book By Mark Noll, “a historian with pietist and Calvinist convictions who happens to teach at the University of Notre Dame”. I believe he validates many of my concerns.
The Reformation Comes to Rome? An Evangelical Reviews Evangelical Catholicism

Back to the labels – over my short Catholic life, I’ve probably fallen into the various buckets at different points. I was mostly converted by those who would probably qualify as neo-cons. I am am eternally grateful to them and I still consider most of them in high regard. Later on, I became introduced to much more of the riches of the Church by those would be probably be considered closer to the traditionalist camp. These riches give me real ammunition to help me work out my salvation with fear and trembling. Weigel’s book may help people make the jump into Catholicism, but I fear that once they’re in, they won’t be aware of the amazing riches in the history of the Church because they now have this skeptical view of the past. But the Catholic religion is just so amazing! Every time you turn a corner, you realize there is so much more truth, beauty, and goodness than you could possibly imagine. One of the treasures I’ve been introduced to over the last few years is some of the spiritual classics that I was previously oblivious to. For example, I’ve been slowly working through St. Loius de Montfort’s classic “True Devotion”. As I read the first few chapters, I just kept thinking “I can’t believe I’ve been Catholic for this long and have never read this. This is unbelievable!” It’s probably my fault for not paying attention well enough when others have spoken of it. And there are soooo many other works like it (and they are dirt cheap as e-books or even free). And these older works are in no way devoid of balance, love, or any of the other misconceptions that modern man has of older works. For example, in “True Devotion”, St. Loius de Montfort drills into what false devotion is. In fact, I think these older books make it even harder for me to have a merely exterior, formulaic approach to religion. If you scroll down in the link above to the section titled “False devotion to our Lady” you’ll find he talks about these:

92. There are, I find, seven kinds of false devotion to Mary, namely, the devotion of (1) the critical, (2) the scrupulous, (3) the superficial, (4) the presumptuous, (5) the inconstant, (6) the hypocritical, (7) the self-interested.

It’s not like people only realized in the 1960’s that going through the motions did no good if you didn’t pray with your heart. I, like Dominick, don’t see why we can’t be both – doctrinal and pastoral, attentive-to-the-times and yet steeped-in-tradition, concerned for those outside the fold while also striving to be Saints, and so on – the great Catholic Both/And.

The other thing I’ve come to realize (from people much holier than me) is that one shouldn’t get too wrapped up in these types of discussions. God is in control and I need not worry or think I can help steer the ship. I’m better off praying and doing works of charity than keeping up on the latest goings-on in the Catholic world. Having just written extensively on an issue like this, I am offically a hypocrite!

This doesn’t directly fit in, but I happened to read this amazing interview today in the Catholic Courier

In interview, Bishop Matano explains importance of presence By Amy Kotlarz/

“Sometimes numbers may not always be what we want them to be but sometimes we forget all too often that faithful Catholic who has been a part of the church’s life from their young years and now they are in their senior years. We can’t take these people for granted either. We do have to at times help them to even nurture their faith.”

“It’s amazing the magnificent churches that were built by those who came to this country with little or nothing and how much they sacrificed to build up these churches which were and are a concrete manifestation of how they loved God.


29 Responses to “Final thoughts on “Evangelical Catholicism””

  1. avatar JLo says:

    Wow. I’ve never seen so much reading-betwee-the-lines and reading personal suppositions into another’s words! By now I’m sure it’s obvious to you that you should just ignore Weigel book shelves! Happily, there are many other solid Catholic writers out there, Ben.

    For some of us, though, Weigel remains a valuable Catholic voice, and I personally don’t feel led astray or slapped in any way. He has opinions; so do I, and obviously so do you, and we all love the Church. George Weigel has performed years of service for and in the Church. I’m grateful. +JMJ

  2. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I’ve never seen so much reading-betwee-the-lines and reading personal suppositions into another’s words!

    for example?

  3. avatar BGP says:

    I’m weary of the subject but I did come across this related article which some may find interesting:

  4. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    The conversation about Weigel’s book has dragged on. My apologies for having contributed to what has become tiresome.

    Tomorrow night, Lord willing, Mr. Weigel will take to heart the concerns expressed on this website by God fearing people who are grateful to be Catholic believers in Jesus Christ.

    His talk and answers to questions will be interesting. Perhaps even unifying.

    Ben, Your love of God and love of neighbor are evident. Thank you for exhorting us to become what we are called to be.

  5. avatar Hopefull says:

    So, will someone post us please on Weigel’s talk?

  6. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    “So, will someone post us please on Weigel’s talk?”

    Did any CF staff come to the U of R Interfaith Chapel to question this ‘controversial’ author?

    Were any neo-scholastics who distrust the nouvelle theolgie in the assembly so as to see and hear, to listen and ponder?

    Wasn’t there anyone willing to stand up and speak on behalf of Catechetical Devotional Counter-Reformation Catholics? On behalf of traditionalists and traditionalism?

    The Chapel was filled with young and older. The students were enthusiastic. Priests, deacons, lay men and women were present. The Chaplain was happy to celebrate 50 years of Catholic Chaplaincy on the U of R campus. The Engineering School Dean was honored to introduce the scholar with 18 Honorary Degrees.

    No opening or closing prayer were offered.

    Where were you?

    I would have preferred folks (who have objected on CF to Weigel, his book, his label, his understanding of Church history and his criticism of traditionalists) had been present last night so as to challenge what they believe to be less than orthodox Catholicism.

    Alas, will CF readers have no other comment than that of a rather biased brother who has been identifying himself as an evangelical Catholic for 28 years; one who was thrilled to discover a book describing and prescribing for what he has prayed and hoped?

    Ok, so be it.

    Before the lecture I had the opportunity to speak with George Weigel for 15 minutes. He encouraged me to pose the same question during Q & A which I had emailed him a week earlier.

    As soon as the talk ended, at one of the three microphones, I asked Mr. Weigel about those faithful Catholics {who desire intimacy with our Divine Spouse, who have heard the call to holiness for the sake of mission, who embrace the Second Vatican Council and its interpretation and implementation officially taught and modeled by our Popes, who identify themselves as traditionalists, who reject his understanding of history and what best confronts today’s challenges, who claim for themselves the hermeneutic of continuity} who were not included in the Church’s Deep Reform for the 21st Century as understood and promoted by EVANGELICAL CATHOLICISM; those who were criticized as being out of touch.

    George Weigel acknowledged these (beloved brothers and sisters) to be baptized Catholics who belong to the Church. He understands the possibility that they cannot see themselves embracing evangelical Catholicism and if that be the case that is the case. They are Catholics in the Church. The Church is big enough to include them.

    Yet, Evangelical Catholicism is now the way of being Catholic in today’s hostile environment in order to best proclaim and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Institutional Maintenance is not the way of being Catholic in today’s world.

    Four things are demanded of Catholicism of the 21st Century: 1) Radical Discipleship; 2) Intensified Encounters with Word and Sacrament; 3)Profound, Life Long Catechesis (Bible and Catechism of the Catholic Church are essential to this deep, life long learning experience); 4) Each baptized Catholic senses and responds to Christ’s evangelical mission; the Gospel mission to which all of us are called.

    Every where is mission territory every day.

    Catholic reform (renewal and purification) depends on the longing desire to be united more intimately with the Church’s Divine Spouse, the Son of God, Our Savior.


    (It is all about Jesus; it is always all about Jesus.)

  7. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    The video is here:

    Did any CF staff come to the U of R Interfaith Chapel to question this ‘controversial’ author?

    Where were you?

    I have 4 kids under the age of 6 – bedtime requires the presence of their father.

    Wasn’t there anyone willing to stand up and speak on behalf of Catechetical Devotional Counter-Reformation Catholics? On behalf of traditionalists and traditionalism?

    why? I don’t have to prove myself to Weigel. I seek truth and holiness – not acceptance from the majority or those esteemed by the world.

    Dominick, thank you for asking the question – I truly appreciate it. I see now what Gretchen meant in not accepting Weigel’s terms. His response was highly dismissive and strawman-esque and I fear I played right into his false dichotomy in some of my earlier comments. I, in no way, am unwilling to encounter the modern world with the Gospel message.

  8. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    “I don’t have to prove myself to Weigel. I seek truth and holiness – not acceptance from the majority or those esteemed by the world.”

    To have stood up to George Weigel on questionable points in his book is not seeking acceptance from the majority or from those esteemed by the world.

    It is a defense of what has saved and/or edified; a defense of truth(!)(?)
    But to have stood up can also mean to work and serve for the other’s well being in the Lord.

    I remember when I first learned of CF, I objected to CF’s public criticism of the Diocese’s Ordinary. After correspondence, reflection and prayer, I changed my mind. I began to see how that could promote the Gospel, Church teaching and necessary correction for the sake of one’s well being in the Lord.

    Weigel, like any of us, can benefit from a challenge for his own sake.

    That being said, I believe that his criticism was softened by my emailing him and by meeting him and questioning publicly what he wrote. Has he changed his mind? Will he change his mind?
    Probably not based on my efforts to further the discussion.

    Unfortunately, I am not equipped to articulate the traditionalist perspective. My adult experience of Catholicism is that way of faith, identity and mission called evangelical; informed by the Documents of Vatican II and the Magisteriums of Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Papa Francesco.

    Brother Ben Anderson, thank you for all the ways you have helped me to perceive what I never saw and ponder what I never considered.

    Deo Gratias

  9. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Thanks for the link to the video of George Weigel’s talk at the U or R.
    After viewing, I am reminded that Mr. Weigel did much more than offer a ‘highly dismissive and stawman-esque response’.

    He in fact, acknowledged publicly that many traditionalists do witness Christ and Catholic faith to family and friends effectively. Mr. Weigel did say the tendency of some parts of the traditional Catholic world to retreat in order to preserve is understandable although not the mission to which we are being called.

    The Speaker went on to explain that to identify anyone historical moment of Catholic experience with the fullness of Catholic experience precludes any change (development) (liturgically, theologically, pastorally) and suggests the Holy Spirit is not actively inviting the Church into constant reflection on how to be the Church to which we are called to become.

    If the transition to evangelical Catholicism is more than what some can bear, that is fine, opines Weigel. There is plenty of room in the Church.

    Today we are dealing with an entirely different world. The author reiterated he is trying to describe a mode of Catholicism well suited for this century as Counter-Reformation Catholicism was well suited for a number of centuries.

    See the video at about the 18th minute from the end for his answer to my question about traditionalists participating in the Deep Reform in the 21st Century which is called Evangelical Catholicism.

    “I, in no way, am unwilling to encounter the modern world with the Gospel message.”


  10. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Hello, Scott W. If any CF readers clicked on the link posted above , by BGB on the fourth of December, they would have seen the article by BONIFACE posted on UNAM SANCTAM CATHOLICAM.

    As a matter of fact, I printed a hard copy of it and brought it with me for reference at the Weigel talk December 5 at the U of R. While I did not give him the copy or tell him about it per se, in the 15 minute conversation with him I did ask pertinent questions raised by this article which claims that he and other faithful Catholics (Popes and Cardinals too?) engaged in diabolical behavior to deceive the Church. WOW


    George Weigel does not insist on finding some flaw in the pre-C0nciliar Church (which is the same Church, same organism today and tomorrow, growing, developing…..2 Peter 3:18)

    Mr. Weigel insisted that his reading of Church history does not infer a rejection of what preceded.

    What part of ‘mode of being’, ‘way of experiencing/being/living’ appropriate for one moment in history might not be effective and fruitful for various circumstances and reasons in another moment in history don’t folks understand?

    Disagree and substantiate why but do not attack the person while speculating one’s motives and then judging it all diabolical. Does Boniface have that DISCERNMENT, FACULTY and COMPETENT AUTHORITY?

    Boniface almost makes it sound like an exorcism is needed.

    Next: My reading of Weigel’s book does not perceive him placing Evangelical Catholicism between liberal progressivism and restorationist integralism. Doesn’t objective and honest reading comprehend that Weigel claims that the evangelical missionary call of Vatican II as officially interpreted and implemented by the recent Popes TRANSCENDS the fighting between progressives and traditionalists who are still living out their faith in the Counter-Reformation mode of being Catholic?

    Avery Dulles pointed out a newness emerging. While Vatican I, for example, used the word Gospel once and never used evangelize or evangelization, Vatican II used those words numerous times, a multitude of times.

    Again, disagree if you are so inclined and give your reasons why but do not cast aspersions upon the author’s motives.

    In closing this discussion, which I guess in some ways I am guilty of having started by the four part review of his book posted on CF, I can give my experience of relating to brothers and sisters with whom I disagree. Note, we are talking about relating with baptized brother and sister Catholics for whom Christ died and rose again.

    At Saint Bernard’s Institute for four years I heard and saw a liberal progressive dissident approach to Catholic faith in the Son of God. After those years I experienced some of those adherents in Parish ministry. (Thankfully only a small percentage) My approach at school and at the parish was always the same. Express Love for them, pray for them, and witness to them and confess in the sacrament the times I sinned against charity when their intransigence got the better of me.

    I always sought to be docile to the Holy Spirit and seek to become humble.
    I failed lots. But while some of these dissidents angered me, I chose not to hate but to love and pray and work for unity in The Faith. And when I learned something from them, I acknowledged it thankfully.

    For those of my brethern who disdain George Weigel and his book, I wish you the best in the Lord as you seek to be loyal sons and daughters of the Church which is now graced with an evangelical Catholic Holy Father; Pope Francis, a revolutionary Pope.

  11. avatar Bruce says:

    Dominick said, “I always sought to be docile to the Holy Spirit and seek to become humble.
    I failed lots. But while some of these dissidents angered me, I chose not to hate but to love and pray and work for unity in The Faith. And when I learned something from them, I acknowledged it thankfully.”

    That’s nice.

    Dominick said, “For those of my brethern who disdain George Weigel and his book, I wish you the best in the Lord as you seek to be loyal sons and daughters of the Church which is now graced with an evangelical Catholic Holy Father; Pope Francis, a revolutionary Pope.”

    And this thinly-veiled shot casts enormous doubt on the preceding paragraph. Methinks you may be a bit too excited and enthusiastic over a pope, one of 266 we have had, who has not even occupied the office for a year. Popes come and go. Some are good and saintly, some are weak and terrible. I’m happy for you that you enjoy Weigel as well. He is one man with an opinion and little more. We are free to disagree with him. Heck, we’re free to disagree with the Holy Father on matters that are non-doctrinal. Evangelical Catholicism is just yet another trendy movement within the Church that may or may not matter a whole heck-of-a-lot in the long run. I find it funny that it is the “latest and greatest thing” and yet we have not seen any dramatic reversals in Mass attendance or the re-evangelization of Europe. Quite frankly, the term “New Evangelization” is as tired, if not dead, as the movement itself.

    Not to mention that the entire thing casts contemplatives as ineffectual fools. Funny thing is, these tradition-minded men and women are indeed fools, but fools for Christ. Fools in the same mold as St. Anthony of the Desert, St. Therese of Liseux, and many others. Your “revolutionary pope” has declared 2015 the Year of Consecrated Life. That doesn’t mean just those out “evangelizing” as Weigel declares as being the wave of the future, but also those who simply pray and work without being out and about in the world.

    I’m not an “evangelical” Catholic. I’m not a “traditional” Catholic. I sure as Hell am not a liberal one either. I’m just Catholic. Weigel’s labels and fads mean nothing to me. The best course of action for the Church is to continue being the Body of Christ and spread the good news the way each of us can in our own lives. Some do it by prayer and no action. Some do it by action alone. Some are “evangelical” Weigelites. Some are hardcore tradiionalists.

    We’re Catholic. There is room for all. Lets bury the labels and the trends, Weigel’s included.

  12. avatar Thinkling says:

    I appreciate all the posters’ efforts here, this is one of the better threads on the site.

    Thanks Ben for providing a link to his talk, including DZ’s question. For reasons unrelated to any discussed here, I have not read EC, nor do I plan to.

    My impression of EC is driven by reading many snippets of Weigel discussing his book, and now from this talk. One thing that struck me is how much his EC idea is similar to the Catholic evangelist Matthew Kelly’s idea of being a “dynamic catholic”. As a big fan of Kelly’s approach, it struck me that Weigel could not be too far off the mark of something really positive.

    Yet much of his talk, especially the tone and voice (more imperative and less declarative), did seem to support Ben’s points, which I would summarize as going beyond “EC is good” (which I do not believe anyone objects to) to “If you don’t buy EC, you are doing something wrong” (pun intended, thank you very much).

    There is a huge irony here. DZ used traditionalists as an example. The legitimate gripe to be made about traditionalists is the frequent espousing of an attitude where those who prefer different disciplines than them are inferior or even heretical to do so, in contradiction to the Church they are otherwise so devout to. Yet Weigel seems to be making this same mistake. Many gifts but the same spirit etc etc. This is actually quite odd, as one of Weigel’s favorite memes is that the Church is both/and, not either/or.

    DZ’s answer also revealing in a totally different way. I would not criticize it as strongly as Ben, but how he answered was a dead giveaway. Anyone familiar with his writing knows how usually he is quite direct and clear, think Witness to Hope, Courage to be Catholic, or the pre-1989 portion of End and Beginning. But sometimes his tone changes dramatically, he becomes ponderous, waffly and hand-wavy. This is how he communicates when he knows he is at variance with the official or at least mainstream position of his own Church, think the post-2000 section of End and Beginning. Yet this is exactly how he answered DZ. Weigel realized that there still is a place for traditionalists in the Church (of course there are), but that his whole thesis of EC need not apply to them yet it is now OK. I see this as his waffly admission that no you don’t have to espouse EC after all, but if you do that is great. This differs with how he presents it otherwise, and I suspect he realizes that.

    Shame really, because the idea itself is a great one (per DZ) but his implied claim of exclusivity or imperative is flawed, and most importantly unecessary (per Ben). I think a better example would have been to ask him about monastics. A more extreme example of “catacombs” yet without the cultural and tribal baggage. Not complaining DZ, just thinking out loud, would have loved to here that answer. But Matthew Kelly would answer all this by stating one can evangelize in absolutely any state of life, monastics, traditionalists, the whole monty. And I agree.

    Thanks all for keeping this thread high in both quality and charity, another both/and. I will sign off with the lighter note that that talk was the first time I ever heard some use “lugubrious” twice in the same sitting.

  13. avatar Thinkling says:

    By the way thanks Dominick for attending and asking the question. I should have said that earlier.

    I was not going into this rathole but as Bruce brought it up, I concur that labels stink. I am as ‘traditionalist’ as anybody, but those who use that word as the label would not recognize that at all.

    And Bruce brought up contemplatives, mirroring my thought of monastics, to query Weigel to resolve any problems with his thesis. Good call.

  14. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    “thinly veiled shot casts enormous doubt on the
    preceding paragraph”

    Bruce, that comment reminds me of the time a
    priest told me I am passive aggressive.

    I apologize for conveying something less than

    Do I wish brethren well even when there is
    disagreement? Of course. Was I emphasizing
    that Mr. Weigel’s understanding of Pope Francis
    is accurate and in harmony with his Deep
    Reform in the 21st Century Church? Yes

    Thinly veiled shot? Forgive me.

    I never thought to ask about monastics.
    Monastics have been such in each of the Church’s
    historic moments since their beginning outlined by the author. I
    imagine Weigel would have said the same
    and then explained how their monastic lives
    would contribute to the reform.


    No, I disagree. It is Catholic.
    It is living the Gospel in word and deed.
    It is all about Jesus and as such it is evangelical.

  15. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    No one explains it better than Father Barron.

    Got Joy…..or……Got Bickering

    Pope Francis Has This Evangelical Urgency In His Bones


  16. avatar Pianist9591 says:

    WOW. Right about now, I’m having all I can do not to break into song:

    Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words!
    I get words all day through;
    First from him, now from you!
    Is that all you blighters can do?

  17. avatar Scott W. says:

    Pianist9591, I believe you will find the regulars at this blog to be fair-minded, so if you have good counsel or solutions, please share.

  18. avatar Pianist9591 says:

    First of all, let me say that generally I find this website to be very helpful. It is a source of truth that is gravely needed. But this last exchange was just a little bit over the top for me. People are DYING out there in their sin & grief & misery and we are sitting at our computers tossing word grenades back & forth. And now I guess I just threw my hat in the ring too, so it is time for me to sign off.

  19. avatar Bruce says:

    Well, pianist, you’re not incorrect.

    However, I think this whole matter could have been avoided if folks like Weigel adopted the tone he had when answering Dominick’s question. A little less “this is the wave of the future and anyone who rejects it is obviously a reactionary tool bag” and a little more “hey, I figured out something that might be helpful for evangelizing this completely broken and desolate culture we live in. Some of you evangelical types might want to try this!”

    That is the crux of the issue and not whether Weigel is completely out to lunch. He may be on some points, but he is also right on others. Where he drops the ball has nothing to do with rightness or wrongness, and likely everything to do with making money selling books, quite frankly. Its a “my way or the highway” carnival barking that is off-putting to those of us who take a different path and have found success in it. I don’t condemn Weigel or those who really dig evangelical Catholicism. I just so happen to not find it especially helpful in my particular situation. I could use less of his judgment.

  20. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Thanks, everyone, for the input. Sounds like there’s a consensus on dropping labels. This comment is going to include some rambling, typos, and words! 🙂 Hopefully it’s not all just words and some of us are thinking/growing through some of the topics discussed here (I can say that this has helped me – that listening to others here has helped me).

    It’s fitting that Bruce mentioned St. Anthony of Egypt. “The Life of St. Anthony of Egypt” written by St. Ambrose is a rather short book and definitely worth the read (and available for cheap as an ebook). As it was St. Ambrose’s feast day yesterday, probably many of us were reminded that he was pivotal in the conversion of St. Augustine. What I found to be very interesting as I’ve been listening to St. Augustine’s “Confessions” via audio book was that there was a period where he intellectually assented to Christianity, but hadn’t yet made the plunge. He couldn’t give up his life of sin. It was upon hearing of the holiness of St. Anthony of Egypt that gave St. Augustine that final boost to truly reform his life. This is fascinating! Here’s a man (St. Anthony) fleeing from the world and yet converting it as he does so. He doesn’t seem to care one iota about evangelizing and yet many people were converted through his holiness.

    Dominick, in case you’re wondering, of course I consider Weigel a brother in the Lord and would gladly shake his hand and have a nice discussion with him as we are here. As I’ve said, I probably agree with 90% of his book. He says a lot of good things – many things which need to be heard especially here in the DOR. And it warms my heart to have you as a brother in the Lord here in the DOR. Your words in comments are very good advice to anyone. Maybe you could think of it like this – I take all the good stuff in Weigel (in EC), but I also value much of what he disparages. He claims some people are stuck in CR/CD traditionalism and that this has left them imbalanced and incapable of attending to the modern world in the best possible way. I would turn this around and say that I fully embrace the modern Catholic world (the changes in the Church and the new challenges we face outside of the Church) AND I embrace all the history leading up to it. In my mind, it is Weigel who seems stuck in one time period – the modern one. Take his example of St. Philip Neri (I’m paraphrasing) – “What about him?” There’s a few things to consider when reading Saints. Obviously, you must read them in light of changes to Catholic practices. For example, let’s say St. Philip Neri suggests that you shouldn’t receive daily communion because it may become too common/routine for you (I don’t know if this is the case or not – just hypothetically)… well you know that today’s Magisterium has said daily communion is a good thing. So you set aside what St. Philip Neri says in that case. But there are so many other things that we can learn from St. Philip Neri (and other saints) that we shouldn’t just ignore him (well, Weigel says he prays to him, but if we pray to him shouldn’t we also learn who he was, what he had to say, etc?). Sure, the exterior world changes around us all the time – “if you have a strategic plan, it’ll be obsolete in 15 minutes” (paraphrasing Bishop Matano), but there’s so much to the interior life (as well as much of our exterior life) that presents the exact same challenges as it did in 5000BC, 33AD, 300AD, 1700AD, etc. “There is nothing new under the sun”. I’d rather read how a Saint lived their life than take a guess at which Catholic professionals are giving me good advice and which aren’t.

    The disparaging of the bunker mentality. Bunkers are a good thing – they are necessary to live a holy life. Sure, if we want to address the modern world, then we have to come out of the bunker, but we must be prepared for that encounter and we must also know when to retreat (for our own safety and for the safety of our children). And time outside the bunker isn’t about quantity, but quality. If I’m leaving my bunker simply to leave my bunker w/out bringing some holiness with me and a legitimate chance at positively affecting the world, then I might as well stay in my bunker and pray. If we don’t spend time in our bunkers every day, then we will die spiritually – there is no doubt about that. In my mind, the mass (and much of the Church’s public life) should be in the bunker. They should be our safe havens. Our Church buildings and our masses should be protected. We should not care about what the world thinks of them (how welcoming they are, how warm, whether they are too in-your-face-catholic?). I think of modern Church architecture. We (disgustingly wealthy people compared to our ancestors) spend millions building “gathering spaces” and yet our sanctuaries are absolutely hideous. Where is the chant? Where is the beauty? Why are our suburban churches so ugly and why are we making the city churches even more ugly? Where has the Catholic faith gone? This revolution was not called for and it was not good. Much of it is done in trying to put on a good face for outsiders.

    I think many people buy Weigel’s story about CR being the reason for the collapse of Catholicism in the West because it takes the responsibility of off them? Your kids left the Church? Your parish was sold? The world you knew is in shambles? It’s not your fault (or anyone’s really) – it’s that the “mode of Catholicism” wasn’t fit for the challenge. But this story doesn’t jive with Holy Scriptures. God is always faithful. He doesn’t wait for us to reinvent ourselves. If we are faithful to him – he will be faithful to us. The reason the Catholic world fell apart was because of unfaithfulness. period.

    new theologies and new philosophies. Once again – Weigel confuses. Earlier in the talk he mentions that V2 was pastoral (not doctrinal). Then later he says “if people can’t accept the new theologies and new philosophies, then …” So what new theologies/philosophies is he talking about? Theologies/philosophies only regarding encountering the modern world? What of those involving just the seeking of truth regardless of the temporary affairs of the world around us? If something was true in the 19th century, then it’s true today. If you want to refute it, then refute it. But you can’t just say, “well, it’s doesn’t work in today’s world, therefore it’s not true”. This is so convoluted. Dominick, you must see some connection here to your other focus of Dr. Martin’s controversy on Hell. Fr. Barron called him a dissenter along the lines of someone who rejected Humanae Vitae. Doesn’t that give you some idea of just how much of a stronghold the nouvelle theologie has on the modern Church?

    Here’s my fear with over-emphasizing evangelization. I was more blatant about this before Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation (which yes, was very providential to me to change my language). I didn’t mean to knock evangelization, per se, but distorted views of it. I think Pope Francis nails this. His version of evangelization is so much more – it encompasses almost everything about loving the other. This is a very good thing. I think the Church today is so concerned with how we appear to those outside. I think we should just be who we are – who God wants us to be. This doesn’t mean we won’t be effective evangelizers – just the opposite. Thinkling, is Matthew Kelly the “best version of yourself” guy? I had a CD or 2 of his and loved them. I remember he talked a lot of books. I can still hear his Australian accent in my mind, “books will change your life.” I’m so glad he told me that because books really have changed my life. I always read a little bit, but never considered myself a reader. I wasn’t very good at it – my mind wonders – it just wasn’t my thing. But over the years I’ve come to realize how true it is that reading good books is so very important.

  21. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    “He doesn’t seem to care one iota about evangelizing and yet many people were converted through his holiness.” Even a hermit is offering prayer for the salvation of the world and so do the Monks. So while they might not be riding a bus to meet people and share faith, their relationship with the Lord is more than “me and Jesus”. So they care about others and offer up for their sake.

    Perhaps George Weigel is not consistent. While he did not disparage at the talk Dec. 5 or in his answer to me, the book unnecessarily marginalized and excluded. Isn’t that why the CF discussion went on and on and why the question about traditionalists had to be posed? Maybe in a next printing of the book he will amend what he originally wrote about traditionalists.

    Bunkers….Hmm. I had written a column for Saint Andrew’s Church bulletin 20 years ago entitled BEHIND CLOSED DOORS AND IN THE PRAYER CLOSET….Yes, of course we need that whether referred to as a bunker, a catacomb or a prayer closet. A sanctuary is a must.

    Ben, I never once suspected you would not extend the right hand of fellowship to Mr. Weigel. Some others, however, have lumped him into the camp of those engaged in diabolical scheming.

    I explained to the author in our 15 minute discussion before the lecture that some on CF sense that he discounts everything preceding the Vatican Council. He denied that and emphasized “way of being Catholic appropriate to the moment in history” perspective. However,he made a point of telling me that Joseph Ratzinger himself was given cause to pause by the not so biblical approach of scholasticism.

    I am guilty. I am guilty of seeing too much of myself and my adult Catholic experience in the book. So I was excited and enthusiastic about reading it, being affirmed by it and sharing it with others.

    Yes, I am concerned with Father Barron’s criticism of Martin in what he wrote in a footnote regarding the population of hell. Alas, none of us has it all together. Or perhaps it is the consequence of the nouvelle theologie.

    This discussion, if for no other reason, has shown all of us that the Catholic Church, its Sacred Tradition and history is profound. Sometimes it takes my breath away.

  22. avatar Thinkling says:

    Ben, yes Matthew Kelly is the “best version of yourself” guy. That monikor is nearly a decade old, yet still totally relevant. In the last couple of years, he has pointed out that “the best version of yourself” is meant to be a synonym for “the universal call to holiness” that our previous beloved popes described. He says that if you cannot understand one phrasing, use the other, and that most folks get the “best version” meme better.

  23. avatar Ben Anderson says:


    interesting. do you still have it?

    we’re probably on the same page, Dominick. And I realized many of the words in my last comment were probably too imbalanced. Someone mentioned contemplative vs active. That’s probably the better language than bunker. For most lay people, life is a mixture of both. So the truths in the contemplative life obviously need not be abandoned because of new challenges in the active (even many truths in the active remain true indefinitely). I’m someone who had a too heavy emphasis on the active (and I even might still today), so I take that for granted when I speak of the contemplative (which I emphasived with the bunker analogy). That’s what’s difficult in speaking of abstracts on the Internet. If you don’t know the person well, it’s hard to get what they’re saying. Here’s a concrete example from my own life. Fantasy football leagues. I like football, but I never much cared for fantasy football. I participated simply to stay connected with people. I didn’t really enjoy it, but I thought, “well, I’m a Christian who should be out there and involved with others – I should participate”. I had a similar thought process with TV/Movies. “I should consume these things so I can relate to the people around me”. “I don’t want to be a weirdo who is only known for reading the Bible and going to Church”. “I should show them that Christians can be cool, too, so that maybe they’ll want to be one”. I thought I was doing these things with good motives and perhaps I was, but God also wants us to use our reason and this reasoning was not good. After a while all these worldly activities consumed me. For one thing, it was just a matter of time and priorities – am I making time for what God really wants of me? The other part is that some of these benign activities aren’t all that benign. TV/Movies/radio/etc warp the mind. Sports becomes about a constant news feed and invades the mind. Pretty soon it becomes a life style. I realized I had to really look at my life and make a more concerted effort at becoming the person God wants me to be (I like that phrase). I needed to be more disciplined. Perhaps others have struggled with similar things. That’s just one concrete example from my own life to help understand what I meant with the bunker approach. It’s probably a terrible analogy and I should probably re-read the Pope again.

    Along these lines and going back to what pianist mentioned with “Words! Words! Words!” – it’s a good point. There are major risks with Internet use. Maybe in the back of my mind I think I’m helping someone, but really I may just be flattering myself and indulging some fantastical phantasm. What good is this really doing? It’s probably good to make rules for ourselves so as not to fall into such a trap. I have tended to just throw up my arms at times and say, “I can’t do this – I’m just going to shut it all off and completely ignore it.” But then I eventually come back and make the same mistakes. It’s probably better to come up with concrete rules that make sense and then really hold myself to them. Something like:

    – mandatory offline periods (8PM-8AM for instance)
    – no more than __ minutes on facebook
    – no more than __ minutes reading blogs
    – no more than __ minutes reading comments
    – no more than __ minutes writing comments

    Filling in the blanks accordingly and then sticking to it so it doesn’t overtake my prayer life, spiritual reading, intellectual/catechetical reading, the duties of your state of life, and spiritual and corporal works of mercy. This should probably be refined/expanded and placed in a prominent place. Anyone care to help work on this list?

    And besides just time, I find that these discussions sometimes are hard to get out of your mind when living the rest of your life. They’re like a sticky piece of gum on your shoe that you want to get rid of, but you can quite free yourself from.

  24. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Michael Novak, a friend of Weigel I believe, doesn’t share Weige’s theory of placing the blame of the Catholic collapse on CR/CD Catholicism:

  25. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Hi Ben, I thought this conversation was over and we were going to give Pianist a break from the words.

    Alas, one more brief go around….lol.

    Did Weigel’s theory place blame of the Catholic collapse on CR/CD Catholicism?
    I think not.

    Bureaucrats hurt the Church by not being disciples who measured their friendship with Jesus by faithfulness to truth and mission. And that criticism can be offered to everyone in the Church.

    Once again, Weigel opines that CR/CD Catholicism is not up to the fight against the hostile secular world that assaults our biblical/Catholic/Natural Law sensibilities. That opinion can and has been debated.

    Society’s Culture had conveyed Christian life and faith. Today it does not. Today society’s culture attacks Christian life and faith. It is now like the ‘brave new world’ which needs a new mode of living and preaching Catholicsim to speak to it.

    Rather than start out with “the Church teaches”, Weigel suggests saying “the Gospel says/Jesus Says/the Scriptures give witness to…”

    Novak confesses his contribution to the progressive corrupted interpretation of the Second Vatican Council’s documents and implementation. Novak, like Weigel, thanks Blessed John Paul II for offering the authoritative interpretation for implementation; THE CALL TO HOLINESS FOR THE SAKE OF MISSION.

    I am seeing more clearly that ‘traditionalists’ {forgive the label} are unafraid to share faith
    and Church teaching in and out of season. That’s quite an evangelical (oops another label) approach.

    Lastly, there is no contradiction between contemplative and active. None of us can act fruitfully without first contemplating the beauty of the Lord and meditating, reflecting and learning.

    Thanks be to God for the sanctuary, the bunker, the prayer closet wherein we sit at Jesus’ feet knowing the better part will not be taken from us.

    You know, we have a lot in common we who are traditionalists and we who are evangelicals.
    For both, it is all about Jesus, it has always been all about Jesus.

  26. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Did Weigel’s theory place blame of the Catholic collapse on CR/CD Catholicism?
    I think not.

    then what does he mean by this?

    EC: “Counter-Reformation Catholicism created Catholic cultures (or microculture) that transmitted the faith as if by osmosis. But when the acids of modernity hit those Catholic cultures with full force – especially in the turbulence of the 1960s – those Catholic microcultures crumbled… Some hint of what might be necessary as an alternative to the Counter-Reformation model was emerging at the same time – a deeply biblical and sacramental Catholicism that displayed enormous growth in Africa. But the evangelical alternative to Counter-Reformation Catholicism remains to be fully described for the Church in the West, where for cultural reasons that have now become clear, the Counter-Refomation model ran aground and shattered.” p16

    Novak confesses his contribution to the progressive corrupted interpretation of the Second Vatican Council’s documents and implementation.

    Right – my point was that at least he pointed out the reason for the collapse – it was progressivism not an outdated mode of Catholicism.

  27. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    “Did Weigel’s theory place blame of the Catholic collapse on CR/CD Catholicism?”

    I still think not.

    Isn’t there a difference between collapsing (because of inherent problems {unfaithfulness to the Lord Jesus’ truth and mission because of careerism, clericalism, bureaucracy, political correctness, trying to please and be accepted by the secular world) and crumbling, running aground and shattering because of not being equipped to deal with a external threat?

    An analogy…..If I harm my body through a lack of exercise, bad food, and too much indulgence in good food and drink, never recreate, experience sleep deprivation and over work, I get sick.
    The Church has experienced crisis (got sick, very sick)because of bad habits and reluctance to form good habits (faithfulness to truth and mission and disciple making).

    But if I take care of my body the best I know how and a new strain of virus or bacteria surfaces and what I have at my disposal is insufficient to fight off the new diseases, a new remedy must be found to combat successfully the new threat to my life.
    This is what happened with the hostile attacks upon the Church. According to Weigel CD/CR Catholicism could not withstand the assault.

    CD/CR did not cause the threat, the crisis, the collapse. It happened to be the victim insufficient in of itself to withstand and defeat the new disease (per Weigel).

    Progressive Corrupted Interpretations and Implementation of the Second Vatican Council, however, contributed to the new strain of disease and helped that deadly virus/bacteria to grow and imbed itself in the body whose immune system was already weakened because of widespread unfaithfulness. Weigel admits, at least he did the 5th December,
    that many CD/CR Catholics faithfully witness to family and friends and are living (out the gift of salvation) within the Catholic Church. No blame placed on these faithful brethren the 5th of December.

    I really do not think those excerpts quoted by Ben intend to mean blame is to be placed at the feet of CD/CR Catholicism. Weigel reiterates time and again that CD/CR had its fruitful impact in the historic moment in Church history which called that mode of Catholicism forward to maintain the Church and serve its self-understanding, faith and mission. And CD/CR did that very well and was the mode of being Catholic in which many saints lived and were acknowledged as such.

    After meeting Mr. Weigel, speaking with him, listening to him and questioning him, I think now he is less apt to marginalize and exclude baptized Catholics who love the Lord Jesus, seek intimate covenant relationship with him and desire to welcome others to that faith which gives meaning to their lives on earth and hope for that life called eternal and everlasting.

    If CD/CR Catholicism made Jesus Christ present, conveyed his person and purpose, helped proclaim Christ’s mystery of faith (and it did), let us continue to hold it up in honor and draw from its wealth of resources as we still do regarding New Testament Catholicism of the first century, Patristic Catholicism of the Church Fathers, and Medieval Catholicism of those founders of the great religious orders etc. Of course there is value to be appreciated in what went before us. We do not forget, ignore or denigrate our heritage.

    However, let’s take Gamaliel’s counsel first offered in the Book of the Acts. If it (Evangelical Catholicism) is of man’s design and not of God, it will come to nothing. But if it (EC) is of God we cannot overthrow it and might in fact find ourselves fighting against God. (Acts 5:38,39)

  28. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Just a correction that I got my early Church Bishop/Saints that start with the letter “A” mixed up. St. Athanasius wrote “The Life of St. Anthony” (not St. Ambrose).

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