Last evening I attended a lecture given by George Weigel here in Clearwater, FL.
The event was held by Jay and Lisa Kelly who seek to provide local Catholics with the opportunity to hear great Catholic speakers.
Calling their new-found organization Splendor of Truth, the evening begins with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and includes an open bar and dinner.
Weigel talked with attendees about the political-cultural climate of the United States. He based his discussion on the writings of Jesuit, John Courtney Murray (We Hold These Truths ), who maintained, as Weigel has stated elsewhere “that that the American democratic experiment could not be sustained without a ‘public philosophy’ capable of disciplining the natively pluralistic public discourse of the republic.”
Murray figured prominently in the discussions and tensions of Vatican Council II. Invited to attend, disinvited, and then invited as a peritus (Latin for “expert” – a title for Catholic theologians invited to give advice), Father Murray made significant contribution to the document, Declaration for Religious Freedom (Dignitatem Humanae), which, according to Weigel subsequently became a “key text” for Pope John Paul II’s defense of human rights.
Weigel underscored Murray’s concept of the necessity for the limited power of government, the need for a public philosophy articulated through consensus, an understanding of freedom informed by moral truth which is knowable and objective, and public policy and law determined by natural law which encompasses the common good.
In light of Murray’s ethos and the writings of Pope John Paul II, Weigel concluded that if the American Experiment is going to survive the challenge and push of the current cultural mindset it will be Catholics who save it — Catholics shaped by a Catholic understanding of the human person, his dignity, and his inalienable right to life.