Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tony Blair, John Henry Newman and England

George Weigel melds a review of Tony Blair's autobiography and an analysis of the papal visit to England in September this year in "Fail, Britannia" from the December 2010 issue of First Things. He recounts the secularist/atheist opposition to the visit and contrasts it to the positive response of Catholics and the public alike, highlighting some of Pope Benedict's great messages: the simple, profound message to Catholic students about holiness and happiness and God's love; the "cost of discipleship" Blessed John Henry Newman's life demonstrates; the need for faith and reason to each have their proper roles in modern society, and the spiritual reponse of faith and healing, repentance and grace to the scandal of priestly abuse. Neverthess Weigel does not have much hope for the adequate response of the hierarchy of the British Isles to evangelize and reach out along the same lines. Secular Britain will have a hard time responding adequately to Benedict's message since it values most "what works" rather than considering "what is true." Weigel can always be counted on for some insightful and and thought provoking analysis of events and texts. (I have the print version of the issue and enjoyed reading the article there so much more since I could thus avoid the temptation of scrolling down online to look at some of the comments!)

William Oddie responds to Weigel's analysis in his blog for The Catholic Herald in a post titled "George Weigel thinks there is a ‘hollowness’ at the heart of post-Blair Britain". Oddie thinks that Weigel is too pessimistic about the Catholic response to Pope Benedict's visit--that at least the laity is ready to respond.

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