The words "Evangelical Catholic" may sound like a novel concept or a peculiar combination to some Protestants, but the phrase signifies a movement that reaches back more than a century in time. It is only in more recent years, however, that Catholicism's "evangelical" turn has acquired definite form and substance. Since Pope John Paul II articulated a new vision of lay evangelization in encyclicals such as Redemptoris Missio (1990), Evangelical Catholicism has captured the hearts and imaginations of faithful Catholics around the globe, spawning radio and television networks, colleges, a myriad of lay-led apostolates ("ministries" in Protestant parlance), and many other fresh initiatives. In Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church (Basic Books), George Weigel reflects on how this movement came about and how it promises to transform both the Catholic Church and the surrounding society. Chris Castaldo, director of the Ministry for Gospel Renewal at Wheaton College's Billy Graham Center, spoke with Weigel about obstacles facing Evangelical Catholicism, from secular hostility to challenges inside the church.
What are the biggest obstacles facing Evangelical Catholicism?
The biggest challenge facing Evangelical Catholicism in the West is an aggressive secularism that has closed its ears to any "rumors of angels," to recall Peter Berger's metaphor for the hints and traces of God's presence in the world. So the Evangelical Catholicism of the 21st century must devise ways to break through that deafness. That's one reason why Benedict XVI so stressed the beauty of the liturgy, and the need to worship God liturgically in a dignified and beautiful way. Beauty can be a window into a larger world for cynical postmoderns. ...1