Catholicism and the Renewal of American Democracy

Published May 1, 1989

During the last twenty years, American Catholics have been locked in a Fierce Struggle to shape not only the inner life of their church but the stance their church will take on civic and political questions.In the book George Weigel takes us to the center of that struggle, where the Left and the Right are rallying around their standards. One side, he believes, is yielding to a Jacobin temptation of descriptive radicalism which obscures the authoritative message of the gospel.The other side is retreating to a disgruntled, world-denying posture, longing for the restoration of a bygone and largely mythical age.

catholicismandrenewalDistinct from these extreme positions, Weigel proposes a middle position suggested by the pioneering work of John Courtney Murray.He calls for a new language of moral discourse grounded in a reviving appreciation of natural law.Such a middle way, he believes, would help to create a “civil public square” where confessional sloganeering is replaced by a respectful discourse.

By way of illustration, Weigel discusses some of the most urgent issues of our day, including abortion, church-state relationships, and the debate over Third-World development.He analyzes the debates over these issues and points out ways to move beyond the present impasses that exist between opposing sides.

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