A Godly Humanism: Clarifying the Hope That Lies Within

From the Editor’s Desk (Monday, April 18, 2016, Gaudium Press) This book, written by the late Cardinal Francis George, former archbishop of Chicago, published by the Catholic University of America Press, occupied his efforts up to the final days of his life.Book_Pick_A_Godly_Humanism.jpg

Cardinal George was both a deep thinker and a magnificent archbishop and cardinal of the challenging city of Chicago. Despite his scholarship and his ease in the intellectual world, for Cardinal George, the Catholic Church was not in the end a movement built upon ideas, but a communion built around relationships.

A Godly Humanism is Cardinal George’s final gift to the Church he served so well. In it, he brilliantly shares his understanding of the Church, its relationship to those who make up its members and its relationship with the culture in which Catholics themselves live.

Cardinal George presents a model for how the spiritual and intellectual life of Christians can be integrated, exemplified in particular by St. Augustine’s path to the truth captured in his Confessions. As Cardinal George explains, though the brilliant Augustine spent years honing his own intellect on the thinking of the most brilliant minds he could find in a late-Roman culture still linked to a great intellectual tradition, he was not merely playing with ideas or indulging in mind games. He was searching to find and commit to ultimate truth, which he finally located (by God’s grace) in the Triune God, who is infinitely more than an intellectual proposition.  

By sharing the milestones of his spiritual and intellectual journey, the cardinal invites us to view the Church’s inner history in a way that goes beyond the categories of politics. In this history, what truly propels events is not independent human initiative, but God’s loving and interested relationship with his creatures, his action in, with and through human history. 

A Godly Humanism is in one sense Cardinal George’s unfolding of divine Providence in his life and in the life of the Church, in a personal response of gratitude for the way of grace. He speaks of the saints in the Catholic intellectual life, the importance of the integrated life and grapples with questions about how education in our post-Christian society can best integrate culture and religion.

He also gives us some ideas on how to integrate the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.
I highly recommend this book for Catholic readers and for non-Catholic readers, as we are all called to bring people to the Church – or to bring them back to the Church.

This book is a welcome final gift from a good and wise shepherd of the Church and someone who, particularly in his last years, suffered much and well for the Church. I would not be surprised if his cause for sainthood were, in years to come, introduced; meanwhile, we can all profit from these final fruits of his great and balanced intellect.

Source: National Catholic Register/  Father C. John McCloskey

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