Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has written an insightful new book entitled God in Action: How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World.
Cardinal George has a degree in philosophy and a unique global perspective as a religious and former vicar general of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Rome.
He recently finished his term as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops, suc-ceeded by the archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan.
Cardinal George is now approaching his last years as the archbishop of Chicago, one of the largest and most challenging archdioceses in the country. He has made his imprint most clearly in his insistence on sound teaching (not without some well-known blowback), his gradual and continuous reformation of the very large diocesan seminary, and his mission, executed through the Lumen Christi Institute associated with the University of Chicago, of fostering Catholic intel-lectual life in Chicago.
With the death of his good friend Father Richard John Neuhaus, the famous convert and founder of the journal First Things, Cardinal George remains the leading ecclesiastical intellectual in the U.S.
In the preface to his new book, Cardinal George introduces the themes that it explores: “This book considers the sense in which God is the primary actor in American society because he is the Creator and Savior of the whole world. It then examines a number of issues that challenge our reading of God’s influence in public affairs and concludes with a perspective that escapes narrow nationalism by looking for God’ s action in the movement towards unifying the human family in our day.”
Cardinal George believes that the authentic age of the laity foreseen by the Second Vatican Council is finally here — an age that understands that our “empowerment,” so to speak, both lay and clerical, does not come from the hierarchy, but rather from the sacraments of initiation that the Church provides. These sacraments, along with prayer and the Christ we encounter in sa-cred Scripture, enable us to grow in holiness. And it is this growth in holiness that then enables the laity to evangelize not only family, friends and colleagues, but in and through them (and this is the book’s point), the entire culture and polity. Over time, this evangelization can help trans-form both culture and polity to better reflect the natural law and acknowledge “God in action” in the world through the Church Christ founded.
In 10 crisp chapters, couched in clear and provocative prose, His Eminence examines issues as varied as religious liberty, the human body, warfare, business globalization, migrants and the “continent of hope.” In the best sense of the phrase, he shows us how to be “in the world,” fol-lowing the guidance of the Holy Spirit to work towards building a true “civilization of love and truth,” as Blessed John Paul II put it. In short, this is a book for our time.
Cardinal George is approaching retirement age, but no matter how long he remains as the Shepherd of Chicagoland, he will remain one of our nation’s top observers and responders to God’s action for years to come.
Opus Dei Father C.J. McCloskey III is a research fellow of the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, D.C.
GOD IN ACTION
How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World
by Cardinal Francis George
240 pages, $22.99
To order: doubleday.knopfdoubleday.com