There is a great reform afoot in the Catholic Church! Or so says George Weigel, a prolific Catholic scholar and commentator. In Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church (Basic Books), Weigel argues the Catholic Church, since the 19th century, has been reorienting herself ever so slowly from "Counter-Reformation Catholicism" toward a confident, outward-looking, gospel-proclaiming, mission-driven faith. Which is to say, toward something distinctly evangelical.
As someone who joined the Catholic Church during his senior year at Wheaton College after being raised in an evangelical Protestant home, my first thought about Weigel's title was that it was potentially confusing, particularly for those who use the word "evangelical" primarily to designate a particular movement among Protestant Christians originating in the First and Second Great Awakenings in England and the U.S. So right from the outset, let's specify what Weigel does not mean. "Evangelical Catholicism," he writes,
is not a way of being Catholic that adapts certain catechetical practices and modes of worship from evangelical, fundamentalist, and Pentecostal Protestantism. Evangelical Catholicism is not the Catholicism of the future as imagined by either "progressive" Catholics or "traditionalist" Catholics... Evangelical Catholicism is not a movement within Catholicism, or a Catholic sect, or a new kind of Catholic elite. Evangelical Catholicism is not a substitute for Roman Catholicism.
The 16th-century Protestant Reformers diagnosed the problems of the medieval Catholic Church as theological, as opposed to being merely moral. But Catholic reformers across the centuries (St. ...