Speaking of Evangelical Catholicism

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Which is what the next pope may just embody and encourage, NRO veteran Julie Dolan has a wonderful review of George Weigel’s new book by that name. She writes, in part:

Mr. Weigel doesn’t mean to suggest a relationship to evangelical Protestantism. He uses the term to describe a church dedicated to spreading the Gospel rather than its own parochial concerns. The term suggests priests who help the faithful to know Jesus rather than simply know about Jesus. Most of all it emphasizes the importance of the faithful—clergy and laity alike—to be not just followers of a creed but missionaries in everyday life. For faith to endure in an age of secularism and of moral and spiritual ennui, it must not be a Sunday-only affair: Faith must be a fundamental commitment and identity.

Mr. Weigel sees evangelical Catholicism as a rich response to the particular challenges of modernity, one both rooted in tradition and open to a serious and confident conversation with the modern world. He suggests it is the key as the church undergoes a period of “deep reform.” Mr. Weigel doesn’t imply, with this term, changing traditional doctrines or other aspects of “the divinely ordained constitution of the Church.” Rather, the life of the church and the lives of its members must be reordered to allow it to fulfill its evangelizing mission. “Those things that need to be changed in the church, and that can be changed, must be changed for the sake of the mission.”

The author of “The Courage to Be Catholic” brings a keenly developed sense of the workings of the church to his analysis. But “Evangelical Catholicism” is a call to arms. Though written long before Benedict made his surprise announcement, the book is nonetheless a timely guide to the issues that the cardinals in conclave—and the next pope—must confront.

Right on. And Evangelical Catholicism is what I’m encountering in the streets of Rome. People on fire with their faith. People wanting a Good Shepherd. People curious about this God of love and forgiveness and the men, like Paul, who taught us who to turn to in our fear and how live in his fearlessness, even to death for professing His Name.

If you’re just checking in on this Catholic moment news, do read my interview with him. It speaks to the challenges and the hope and promise.