God and Caesar: Selected Essays on Religion, Politics, and Society

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9780813215037: God and Caesar: Selected Essays on Religion, Politics, and Society
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Many of the great questions of our day once again revolve around religion. The secular era of the past two centuries is ending in incomprehension and denial, overwhelmed by the cultural uncertainty and political conflict that have dominated the first years of the new millennium. In the face of developments such as the fall in birth rates and the rise of neo-paganism, secularism has little to say. What does remain in the United States and Europe is a vociferous hostility to religion, especially to the role it plays in public life.

The ensuing conflict continues to play itself out in politics, culture, science and the universities. New phenomena such as multiculturalism and significant Muslim minorities have both arisen in the West. But the focus of suspicion has remained squarely on Christianity and its relationship to democracy, human rights, and secular society.

Cardinal George Pell, one of the Catholic Church's leading spokesmen, has played a significant part in this drama. God and Caesar brings together a selection of his writings on Christianity, politics, and society from the last ten years. Drawing on a deep knowledge of history and human affairs, the essays pinpoint the key issues facing Christians and non-believers in determining the future of modern democratic life.

Cardinal Pell considers questions such as: Is democracy only secular? What role can the Catholic Church and its moral vision play, and have they played, in strengthening democracy? How does "religious capital" strengthen political society? What is the bishop's critical role in building a culture of life? And why is belief in God important to the health of a democratic society?

Christ's instructions to "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21) remain the starting point for any reflections on Christianity and political life. God and Caesar is an indispensable text that helps illuminate what Christ's teaching means today.

Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, holds degrees in theology from the Urban University in Rome and a doctorate in church history from the University of Oxford in England. His previous publications include Be Not Afraid, Catholicism and the Architecture of Freedom, and Issues of Faith and Morals. Since 2001 he has written weekly for Sydney's Sunday Telegraph. M. A. Casey is permanent fellow in sociology and politics at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in Melbourne, Australia, and private secretary to Cardinal Pell. He is the author of Meaninglessness: The Solutions of Nietzsche, Freud and Rorty.


PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:


"Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia, is known around the world for his straightforward public commentary on social and political issues in light of Catholic teaching. In these "Selected Essays on Religion, Politics, and Society," he analyzes the nature of responsible Christian freedom, offers a critique of aggressive secularization and speaks prophetically of the Church's role in modern democracies. . . . Christ has told us to "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Lk 20:25, RSV). "God and Caesar" takes that principle as its starting point for a provocative discussion of Christian faith and politics in our time." ― The Catholic Answer



"Cardinal Pell has been accused by his critics of being strident and authoritarian but this collection of essays suggests a different picture: he emerges as popularist, clear-minded, full of good humour and never woolly. The essays, many of which began life as addresses to academic audiences and imply a broad background reading, are punchy in style and show a commendable Australian directness. His message is very much that of Pope John Paul II." ― Dom Aidan Bellenger, The Downside Review

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From the Back Cover:

"Cardinal George Pell exemplifies what it means that bishops are ordained, first of all, to teach. His reflections on the Church's witness in modern democracies point us toward a deeper understanding of the gospel of Christ that can also revitalize a politics of principle."-- Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, Editor in Chief, First Things

"God and Caesar delights with its fresh, plain-speaking approach to the role of religion in politics and society. Cardinal Pell wears his immense learning lightly, but every essay in this remarkable collection shows a powerful intellect at work on the question of how we are to order our lives together on our increasingly interdependent, yet conflict-ridden planet."-- Mary Ann Glendon Professor of Law, Harvard University; President, Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences

"In this timely collection of essays Cardinal Pell challenges us to consider anew how Judaeo-Christian values can both inform and enrich free democratic societies. He identifies the enemy as aggressive secularization--with exaggerated emphasis on individual choice in the place of the common good. Beliefs informed by religious inspiration are barely tolerated. Pell speaks prophetically into this void, calling us back to a culture of love and life; a world which insists on the dignity of every person."-- David Alton, Lord Alton of Liverpool

"Cardinal Pell will surprise neither his critics nor his friends with this timely and important collection of essays. His robust and illuminating insights into the nature of responsible Christian freedom will confirm the opposition of the former and the enthusiastic approval of the latter. Thoughtfully conscious of the importance of custom and tradition in the Burkean `liberal descent,' he joins hands with Acton in believing that Catholicism is profoundly liberal rather than clerical and obscurantist and, most importantly, that it has nothing to fear from history or from politics."-- Claudio Veliz, Emeritus University Professor and Professor of History, Boston University

About the Author:

Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, holds degrees in theology from the Urban University in Rome and a doctorate in church history from the University of Oxford in England. His previous publications include Be Not Afraid, Catholicism and the Architecture of Freedom, and Issues of Faith and Morals. Since 2001 he has written weekly for Sydney's Sunday Telegraph. M. A. Casey is permanent fellow in sociology and politics at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in Melbourne, Australia, and private secretary to Cardinal Pell. He is the author of Meaninglessness: The Solutions of Nietzsche, Freud and Rorty.

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