While Jason and the Callers are admiring the early church fathers, here is an observation on their contemporary brothers and sisters from Mark Noll in a review of George Weigel’s, Evangelical Catholicism:
It is mostly inconsequential, but perhaps also of some interest to record how I have read this book against the background of experience at Notre Dame. From that experience I would conclude that there are indeed some Catholics committed to deep church reform who already practice something like Weigel’s evangelical Catholicism. But it also seems obvious that such Catholics make up only one part of a church that in its U.S. expression includes many other Catholics eager to promote their respective visions of reform. This rainbow of reformers includes Garry Wills Catholics, G. K. Chesterton Catholics, Robert Barron Catholics, Joe Biden Catholics, Dorothy Day Catholics, Sandra Schneider Catholics, Opus Dei Catholics, Oscar Romero Catholics, and many more. As someone who has read several works by John Paul II and Benedict XVI with real appreciation, I hope very much that they have set the church on a path that it will follow, but then I wonder why in some conversations at Notre Dame, I as the non-Catholic seem to have the most positive things to say about these two popes.
One of the great privileges of being at Notre Dame has been to witness what can only be called Roman Catholic Christianity at its best, marked by profound understanding of fundamental Trinitarian theology, strong commitment to the Christology of Nicea and Chalcedon, expert deployment of philosophy in service to theology, deep personal piety, and dedicated Christian commitment to a wide range of social reforms. Examples of what to all appearances look like admirable personal religion supported by admirable family, parish, and social religion also abound.
Yet Notre Dame is also a place where a broad array of often incompatible ideals are proposed for Catholic reform, where cafeteria religion seems pervasive for what Catholics choose to do or believe, where students participate in dormitory masses and standard college dissipations with equal fervour, and where no one seems too concerned about vast stretches of nominal Catholic adherence.