Tag Archives: George Weigel

The Fragility of Order: Catholic Reflections on Turbulent Times

George Weigel
Ignatius Press, 223 pages
www.ignatius.com

This collection of essays and lectures by Catholic intellectual George Weigel surveys recent history and contemporary concerns from an authentically Catholic perspective. The times are “turbulent” because we face challenges and changes resulting in a weakening or loss of order — in our country, in the world, and in our Church. “Order is not self-maintaining,” Weigel writes. “Order is an achievement, and it must be attained, over and over again.” His focus here is on “diagnosis, not prescription,” yet there is a theme of hope: Catholics can help restore proper order if we remain faithful to the truth and to our mission as “the light of the world.”

Order: Amazon

Catholics and Campaign 2016

Serious Catholics bring to American politics a distinctive way of thinking about public life that’s built on four core principles, drawn from the Church’s social doctrine.

George Weigel

George Weigel

The first principle is personalism, or the human rights principle. It teaches us that protecting the inalienable dignity and value of every human life is the first requirement of a just society. The second principle is the common good, or the communitarian principle. It teaches us that our individual rights should be exercised so that all society benefits from our labors.

The third principle is called, technically, subsidiarity; we can call it the free association principle. It teaches us that all concentrations of power are dangerous; that political responsibility should be exercised at local levels, not just nationally (or globally); and that the free associations of civil society (like the family and the Church) are the first schools of freedom.

And the fourth principle is solidarity, or the principle of civic friendship. It teaches us that the free and virtuous society is bound together by more than legal contracts — it must be bound together by a sense of mutual obligation, care and concern.

These principles are expressions of two more basic Catholic convictions: that freedom is not mere willfulness (“I did it my way”) and that human beings are more than twitching bundles of desires that the state is obliged to help fulfill. In the Catholic view of things, human beings are capable, with the help of grace, of choosing the right thing for the right reason, and doing so as a matter of habit — all of which makes for freedom rightly understood. Moreover, the Church teaches that human happiness is found through making our lives into a gift for others, rather than merely asserting ourselves and our willfulness against others.

This view of what makes for human flourishing and these bedrock principles of the Church’s social doctrine suggest that there are three priority issues that Catholics should promote in Campaign 2016 — and at every level: local, state and federal.

The first of these, of course, is the right to life from conception until natural death. Ours is now a society in which entire classes of people can be subjected to lethal violence because they’ve been declared beyond the reach of the law’s protection. That’s what the Supreme Court declared in its 1973 and 1992 decisions creating and then reaffirming the abortion license; that’s what various states have done in permitting euthanasia; and we can be sure that pressures are going to increase for removing the “burdensome” — those who are physically disabled or cognitively handicapped — from our midst. Against this culture of death, Catholics must propose a culture of life that cherishes life at all stages and in all conditions, and that cares for those who are experiencing crisis pregnancies or the burdens of age, illness or handicap.

The second priority issue is religious freedom in full. There have been unprecedented assaults on religious freedom over the past seven years at every level of government. Catholics must insist — and must persuade all people of good will — that religious freedom is not simply freedom of worship (although it surely includes that). Religious freedom includes the freedom of religious institutions to be themselves and to conduct their educational, charitable and social service ministries according to the standards set by their conscientiously held religious convictions. Absent a robust renewal of religious freedom, Catholic institutions risk becoming mere extensions of the state. That would be bad for the Church and bad for American democracy (click for a related story).

The third priority issue is the restoration of limited, constitutional government. The modern state seems to have an inexorable tendency to expand the reach of its power and to swallow up both free associations and smaller governmental units. Pope Pius XI recognized this tendency in the 1920s and addressed it in his landmark social encyclical Quadragesimo Anno in 1931 when he cemented the principle of subsidiarity into the foundations of the Church’s social doctrine. In American terms, our federal system is an expression of that principle. That is why Catholics are called upon to defend the prerogatives of state and local government over the encroachments of federal power and to resist the rapid expansion of the administrative state — those bureaucracies that increasingly govern our lives.

In promoting these principles in American politics, Catholics should bring to Campaign 2016 the Church’s longstanding conviction that voting is an exercise in moral reasoning and moral judgment, not an exercise in raw emotion. In doing so, Catholics can elevate our politics and help rebuild our increasingly tattered culture, proving once again that U.S. Catholics are the best Americans they can be when they’re the best Catholics they can be.

GEORGE WEIGEL is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

Evangelical Catholicism

George Weigel writes that the Catholic Church is embarking on a bold new era . . .

WeigelEvangelical Catholicism
George Weigel
Basic Books, 2013
304 pages, $27.99 hardcover

Weigel’s new offering contends that the Church is on the threshold of a bold new era in its 2,000- year history. The era defined by the 16thcentury Counter-Reformation is on its way out, and a new evangelical era is on the rise.

This Gospel-centered brand of faith, Weigel says, will send Catholics into mission territory every day — a territory defined by spiritual boredom and aggressive secularism. Thus 21st century Catholicism will be a culture-forming counterculture, offering people of good will a deeply humane alternative to our soul-stifling culture.

Order: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Summit on the Bayou

Religious liberty and the new evangelization took center stage at the Summit in Phoenix . . .

Raymond Arroyo

Raymond Arroyo

Despite its arid location, Legatus’ 2013 Summit had a distinct Louisiana flair — everything from Cajun food to a raucous Mardi Gras-themed evening presided over by the bead-tossing New Orleans native and master of ceremonies, Raymond Arroyo.

The three-day annual conference, hosted by Legatus’ Baton Rouge Chapter, drew more than 400 Legates and guests from across the country and beyond to the luxurious Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., from Feb. 7-9.

Religious Freedom

Speakers from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to Catholic historian George Weigel touched on the Summit’s dual themes of faith and freedom. In his Feb. 8 address, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori exhorted Legates to help the country return to its founding principles amid challenges to religious liberty. “In the spirit of the new evangelization, may I invite you to engage your network of family members, colleagues, and friends to understand more profoundly how religious freedom is threatened and to think of our political system with more than enlightened self-interest?” he asked.

Archbishop William Lori

Archbishop William Lori

The 1884 Council of Baltimore, he said, decided that there is a fundamental compatibility between the U.S. Constitution and “the Church’s understanding of the natural law.” However, Archbishop Lori noted, this view “has recently been called into question.”

The diminishing role of religion in America is leading to a different understanding of religious freedom than existed in the past, and this “is part of the challenge of the new evangelization to which Pope Benedict has called us in this Year of Faith and beyond.”

Bush, who spoke to Legates just one year after his more famous brother, talked about his conversion to the Catholic faith and how it has made all the difference in his life — both personal and political.

“But for my faith, I don’t know what the outcome [of my life] would have been,” he said. “My faith has brought me the greatest happiness of my life.”

Like many of the speakers and clergy who addressed Summit attendees, Bush said faith must inform every aspect of one’s life.

“If your faith means anything to you, it must inform your public policy,” he said. “We should encourage people in public life to stand on principle. At a time when we should be excited about the future, we have lost our optimism. I reject that completely.”

Call to Evangelize

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted

In his homily at St. Thomas the Apostle parish, Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted told Legates that the Church — and Legatus’ mission statement — asks them to be formed in the faith and to go out to the world as missionaries and evangelists.

“Legatus means ‘ambassador,’ one sent on a mission, an apostle,” he said. “At the end of every Mass, we are sent forth on this mission.”

Along with Bishop Olmsted and Archbishop Lori, Summit-goers attended Masses celebrated by Bishop Sam Jacobs, Legatus’ international chaplain; Cleveland Auxiliary Bishop Roger Gries, chaplain of Legatus’ Cleveland Chapter; and Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.

Other speakers included Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Relevant Radio’s Fr. “Rocky” Hoffman, author Matthew Kelly, Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, and Los Angeles Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti.

Legates were also treated to a presentation of Legate Jason Jones’ new film Crescendo; a sneak peak of the History Channel’s The Bible, a mini-series produced by Hollywood super-couple Mark Burnett and Roma Downey; a panel discussion on religious freedom; and Evangeline, a full-fledged stage musical.

Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli

The Summit was an uplifting and faith-building experience, Legates agreed.

Salvatore and Josephine Caruso, members of the San Jose Chapter, attended their first Summit. The experience helped the couple to be “fortified in our faith and to better understand our responsibilities in our faith,” he explained. “As lay persons, what are our responsibilities? Faith is not something you just keep to yourself personally. It’s something you use in society for the greater good.”

Joe Melançon, who chaired the Summit with his wife Paula, said he was pleased with the way Legates responded to the event’s Year of Faith theme — The Door of Faith: A Summons to a Deeper Conversion.

“My greatest hope is that they, like Paul, will have a summons to a deeper conversion,” he said.

Tom Moran, a member of Legatus’ Orlando Chapter since 2006, said the Summit was a remarkable call to action. “It was encouraging direct action and involvement not by scare tactics, but by giving sound, intellectual basis for concern,” he said.

Keith Tigue of the Phoenix Chapter not only enjoyed having a Legatus Summit in his hometown, but was encouraged by the speakers and the entire Legatus community. More importantly, he said, Legatus helps him to be a better businessman.

“As business leaders, we really have to narrow down on what [God wants] and get out of the way and let God work through us and the dream He has given us in our business.”

In particular, Tigue said, Matthew Kelly’s talk on “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” inspired him to do more. “It made me realize that I’m glad I’m doing this,” he said, “but I need to do better.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor of Legatus magazine. This article contains reporting from Catholic News Agency and Ambria Hammel, staff’ writer for The Catholic Sun.

——————

2012 Award Winners

DEFENDER OF THE FAITH
Archbishop William Lori

AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR
James Sheehan

OFFICER OF THE YEAR
Tom Spencer

COURAGE IN THE MARKETPLACE
Ken Cuccinelli, Bill & Andy Newland, Weingartz Family, Christopher & Mary Ann Yep

BOWIE KUHN SPECIAL AWARD FOR EVANGELIZATION
Mike Caspino, John Reid

CARDINAL JOHN J. O’CONNOR PRO-LIFE AWARD
Richard Doerflinger, Chuck Donovan, Michael Schwartz

ANGOTT AWARD
Baton Rouge, San Juan Capistrano

CAMPBELL AWARD
Western Massachusetts, Lexington, South Bay of Los Angeles, Detroit Northeast, Fort Worth

21st century warriors

A quarter-century old, Legatus is poised to substantially impact the culture . . .

Men and women who join Legatus to grow in their Catholic faith may not think they are enlisting in an army, but those at the forefront of today’s culture wars see them that way.

The two most recent recipients of Legatus’ Defender of the Faith Award — Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Catholic League president Bill Donohue — have both described Legates as an army on the front lines, adding that they couldn’t function without such a force behind them.

Upon receiving his award in late 2010, Cardinal Dolan told Legatus members that he and his brother priests rely on prominent lay leaders who are unafraid to give public witness to their faith. “It’s your prayers and support that keep us strong,” he said. “If I’m able to defend the faith, it’s because there’s a great army like you with me.”

Cultural impact

Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Indeed, when Thomas S. Monaghan got the idea to start Legatus within hours of meeting Blessed John Paul II in 1987, he knew he was about to harness a force for great good. By gathering what he calls the most proven leaders in the Church — Catholic CEOs — and helping them to be better Catholics, he believed he could multiply their influence.

“The impact these people have on other people and their ability to get things done and get things organized would have a tremendous benefit to the Church — and that’s the way it’s worked.”

As Legatus grew, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who served as Legatus’ ecclesiastical advisor for more than 20 years, called the group the most effective association in the Church. “There’s just no organization out there like this,” Monaghan said. “They’re action-oriented. They’re doers, not just talkers. I’ve often said there might be classes of people more articulate or intelligent — like lawyers or professors — but as far as getting things done, they’re in a class by themselves.”

Although in founding Legatus, Monaghan wasn’t directly envisioning it as a player in the culture wars, he said the organization may well be the most effective way to deal with the battles Catholics are facing in the 21st century.

By building business leaders into better Catholics, he said, they make a difference because as faith becomes a bigger part of their lives they automatically see what needs to be done. “These are people who see a need and they fill it, and there are lots of needs in the Church.”

New movement

Those who have followed Legatus’ progress over the last quarter century agree the organization has matured to the point where it is having an impact on the culture.

“Legatus is no longer a club — it’s a movement,” said the Catholic League’s Donohue. “I have seen Legatus grow from a small group of CEO Catholics dedicated to bringing Catholic values to the workplace to a large group of distinguished Catholics committed to engaging the culture. That’s quite a transformation.”

Bill Donohue

Donohue added that in speaking to many Legatus chapters, he has been impressed by the growing commitment on the part of members to take sides in the culture wars. “Catholics have been called by the Holy Father to participate in the public square and Legatus has certainly made good on this request.”

When he was at the Legatus Summit in February, Donohue said, many members asked him how they could become more active in the Catholic League. “They want their voices to be heard on national issues even beyond what Legatus is doing.”

Deal Hudson, chairman of Catholic Advocate in Washington, D.C., said he believes Legatus reached a point of critical mass about seven years ago, readying the organization for the current situation in the United States, which includes such challenges as a federally imposed contraception mandate for all health insurance plans. Most believe it to be unconstitutional.

In his 2008 book Onward Christian Soldiers, Hudson told how Monaghan’s desire to create a national network of orthodox Catholic businesspeople and their spouses brought together Catholics of influence in places like New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Phoenix in a significant way.

“The relationships that were created both within chapters and then between individuals in different parts of the country and at national meetings really helped to contribute to the strength of the Church in our country and has really encouraged a lot of the bishops in ways that were not there prior to the founding of Legatus.”

Not only do bishops appreciate hearing the concerns Legatus members raise, Hudson added, but they know they can rely on the body of knowledge and skills Legates offer. “Business covers a broad spectrum from management to law to education to accounting and fundraising. Really, when the bishops want expertise, they know where to look.”

Monaghan agreed, adding that many bishops and cardinals have said they turn to Legatus members when they need help. “I’m not just talking financial, I’m talking organizational,” Monaghan explained. “It goes on quietly and there’s a lot of it going on.”

Engaging the culture

John Hunt, Legatus’ executive director, said part of Monaghan’s original vision for Legatus was that, as people of influence, members would live out the Second Vatican Council’s call for laypeople to be the Church in the world.

As the organization marks its 25th anniversary this month, Hunt said, it’s clear that Legates are continually being honed for this calling through studying the faith and interacting with other Catholic executives and their spouses who take their faith seriously. “They’re well grounded and they are armed with the tools to go forth.”

Hunt, who joined Legatus 19 years ago and was the charter president of the Chicago Chapter, added, “From the beginning I have been very convicted of Legatus’ value and its ability to be of service to the Church both at the parish and diocesan levels, but also on a broader scale.”

But how this service takes shape depends on each member.

Because Legatus’ mission is to help members study, live and learn the faith, Hunt said, it doesn’t lobby politicians or endorse candidates. Rather, it urges members to support their local bishops and communicate with elected representatives in their own way.

For example, after the recent contraception mandate was announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Legatus sent e-mails to members encouraging them to become aware and involved, providing them with contact information for their bishops and legislators, details about pending legislation, and information about litigation by Catholic institutions and business people.

“It’s not Legatus stipulating what to do, but encouraging them to become engaged,” Hunt said.

Catholic Advocate’s Hudson said he thinks the most effective action Legatus members can take in this particular case is to encourage and support their bishops to be as strong as possible, even to the point of civil disobedience, if necessary, in opposing the mandate.

George Weigel

George Weigel, senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, added: “The best thing individual Legatus members can do is to convince their friends, neighbors, fellow parishioners, and fellow business people of the immensity of the challenge before us — which is to defend all of civil society, including the Church. As an organization, Legatus can continue to provide its members with the kind of adult formation that makes their evangelical work in the marketplace, family and neighborhood possible and effective.”

Given that this is a time of great urgency, Hunt said, it may be time for Legatus members and all people of good will to step forward and potentially be “martyred.”

“Certainly, it can be in the form of the world seeking to attack an individual and a business he or she is responsible for because of the faith they exhibit,” Hunt explained. “The fact of the matter is we are probably in about the second inning of a nine-inning ballgame. Pressure is coming from people who want permission to do whatever crosses their minds, and the Catholic Church is standing in the doorway proposing a better way. That’s something we’re going to be under attack for. We should allow ourselves to be a buffer in defense of our faith.”

Judy Roberts is Legatus magazine’s staff writer.

John Paul: Saint & inspiration

Legatus founder Tom Monaghan reflects on being in Rome for the Pope’s beatification . . .

Thomas Monaghan

I was privileged to be in Rome on May 1 for John Paul the Great’s beatification. I was there as a part of a pilgrimage led by Steve & Janet Ray and Legate Teresa Tomeo. The pilgrimage was handled by Legate John Hale’s Corporate Travel Co. They all did an amazing job!

During the trip, I pondered the far-reaching impact of this man, whom I and many other Legates had the privilege of meeting. Many things come to mind, yet it’s hard not to think back to the first time I met him. In 1987, I had the opportunity to receive Communion from him in his private chapel. I will always remember that experience, of looking into his eyes as I was about to receive the Eucharist. It truly served as the inspiration for Legatus. I had the idea for Legatus within hours of that encounter.

I don’t think we will fully comprehend the impact that this incredible man had on the Church and the world until we get to Heaven. How could we? His efforts over the years to implement the teachings of Vatican II, for example, encouraged the laity to be more active in the Church and to take more responsibility for evangelization and leadership in the Church. This corresponds directly to Legatus’ mission to study, live and spread the faith.

Tom Monaghan, Teresa Tomeo, George Weigel, Steve Ray

Many of John Paul’s encyclicals call all Catholics to know our faith and to spread it. He coined the phrase “new evangelization,” which became a rallying cry for a whole generation of Catholics. And his encyclical Laborem Exercens (On Human Work), which talks of the inherent dignity of work, is especially pertinent to us in Legatus. (See related story on page 15.)

This only scratches the surface of his impact on humanity. I invite you to thank God with me for the tremendous gift that Blessed John Paul has been to the Church — and to ask for his intercession for the world, the Church and for Legatus.

Thomas Monaghan is Legatus’ founder and chairman. He is a member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter.

The End and the Beginning

George Weigel solidifies John Paul II’s legacy in this phenomenal volume . . .

weigelThe End and the Beginning
Doubleday, 2010. 608 pages, $32.50 hardcover

The book’s full title is a mouthful: The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy. As the follow-up to Witness to Hope (1999), Weigel’s new book draws on the last six years of John Paul’s life. He explores the Pope’s battle with communism, the Great Jubilee and visit to the Holy Land, the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. sexual abuse crisis, his efforts to build bridges with Eastern Churches, and his struggle with illness. A fine tribute to the man who changed the world and revolutionized the papacy.