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One Cardinal's response to secularization

In a recent speech commemorating the end of World War II, President George W. Bush dusted off a shopworn bit of far-right GOP dogma. He accused President Franklin D. Roosevelt of making a corrupt deal with Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945, thereby abandoning Eastern Europe to the clutches of the Soviet Union. This specious interpretation of Yalta has been debunked by historians, and Bush was criticized by many for reviving it. Yet, as it happens, I heard Cardinal Francis George of Chicago say the very same thing just a few days before Bush’s speech, at (of all things) an academic philosophy conference. It is a great virtue of liberal democracy that everyone-even presidents and cardinals- may express contentious opinions in the public square. But when the rhetoric of a cardinal archbishop is indistinguishable from that of a president, I worry a bit. When the rhetoric is that of the rightward fringe of the Republican Party circa 1952, I worry a lot.

The conference itself was a high-octane affair: Alasdair MacIntyre (After Virtue), Charles Taylor (Sources of the Self), and Jean-Luc Marion (God without Being), addressing the question, “What Can Philosophers Learn from the Tradition?” It was sponsored by the Lumen Christi Institute, a selfidentified institute for “Catholic faith, thought, and culture,” and held at the University of Chicago on April 30. Although the featured speakers were impressive, their...

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About the Author

William D. Wood is the tutorial fellow in theology at Oriel College, Oxford.