Weigel on L’Osservatore Romano’s “fideist credulity”

My friends – smart people – are angrily scratching their heads over the latest squishy musings in L’Osservatore Romano.

I have posted about this here and here.  In the second case, the editor, who is a fine fellow and doing a pretty good job making the paper into something other than fishwrap, really blew it. 

Here is a piece by George Weigel in National Review online with my emphases and comments.

Parsing the Vatican Newspaper
It doesn’t always speak for the pope.

May 21, 2009, 4:00 a.m.
By George Weigel

The newspaper published by the Vatican, L’Osservatore Romano, has created more than a little mischief recently, featuring essays by ill-informed European journalists who imagine that they understand American history, the American political scene, and the grave moral issues being contested in these United States. [This is a very good observation, and he leads with it.  Having spent a lot of time in Rome, having worked in the curia and lived with curial officials, and having never lived in the American ghetto in Rome, I can attest that most of the people there have their heads in very dark places when it comes to thinking about the USA.] Pro-administration American journalists and activists have leaped with barely concealed glee on several unfortunate articles in this genre, claiming that they demonstrate that “the Vatican” believes the U.S. Catholic bishops overreacted to Notre Dame’s award of an honorary doctorate of laws to President Obama, and that “the Vatican” is taking a wait-and-see, so-far-so-good attitude toward Obama after the horrors of the arch-demon Bush. [That is another piece: this is anti-Bush blow-back. No matter how inane it is, it is a constant in Euro-Think.]

About which, several points must be made.

1. The first thing one learns in Vaticanology 101 is that there is no such thing as “the Vatican.” The Holy See is as complex and confused a bureaucracy as one finds in national governments. Many points of view coexist within the Vatican walls, and there are more than a few curialists who like to talk to reporters. Very few if any of these chatty people count, in terms of expressing the settled judgment of the senior leadership of the Catholic Church. That leadership, when it wishes to make a serious point, does so through its major figures, not through the bureaucratic munchkins and [here it is] not via commissioned essays in a newspaper that, while published by the Holy See, is not taken all that seriously there. The last is a shame, for it suggests yet another facet of the Holy See’s communications problems; but it’s the truth, nonetheless. As for the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, what counts is what is said by the Bishop of Rome, who does not exercise his teaching office through some generic institution called “the Vatican” but in his own unmistakable voice. And he lets you know when he’s doing it. [So… "the Vatican" is not monolithic and L’OssRom is, well, not something to get too worked up about.]

2. In the normal course of events, L’Osservatore Romano does not speak authoritatively for the Church in matters of faith, morals, or public-policy judgment. The exceptions are when a senior churchman offers a commentary on a recent papal document (an encyclical, for instance), or on those exceedingly rare occasions when an editorial in the paper is followed by three dots, or periods, a traditional convention signaling that the opinion being expressed is from “high authority.” No knowledgeable or responsible analyst of Vatican affairs would regard commissioned essays in L’Osservatore Romano, even if they appear on page one, as somehow reflecting an authoritative view from the Holy See or the Pope. The same is true for statements by the paper’s editors or editorials without the dots. [True.  As I have pointed out in the past, unsigned editorials usually have more weight.  And there are some which have clues that they are even more weighty.]

In other words, without those dots, there is nothing here but opinion, to be weighed and judged as any opinion is weighed and judged — on its tether to facts and its argumentation. It is unfortunate that several recent pieces on the Obama administration in L’Osservatore Romano have been both factually questionable and analytically dubious. That is a problem for the senior officials of the Holy See to address, and they ought to address it soon. [D’ya think?  But don’t anyone hold his breath.] Any American commentator trying to spin these articles as a “Vatican” attempt to tell the bishops of the U.S. to “chill out” (as Time’s Amy Sullivan put it recently, in an article whose spin was similar to that of the Washington Post’s E. J. Dionne) is playing political games.

3. It is true, however, that the offices of the Holy See are replete with middle- and lower-level officials who are enamored of Barack Obama.  Why? In most cases, because they are Europeans who share the typical European Obamaphilia and whose sources of information and analysis are manifestly skewed. On the other hand, no one in a serious position of authority in the Vatican can doubt that the Obama administration poses the gravest challenges to the Holy See’s positions on the life issues since the Clinton administration tried and failed to get abortion-on-demand declared a fundamental international human right. The Obama administration will also be at loggerheads with the Holy See when the defense of marriage rightly understood is contested in international institutions.  [Anyone who thinks that Pope Benedict would be on board with Pres. Obama’s approach to abortion is living in a dream world.  The Pope, the Holy See, can perhaps agree or disagree with how best to ameliorate the many problems people face.  Differing approaches are possible.  But on the issue of the sanctity of life from conception to a natural dignified end, there can be no compromise.]

Moreover, several officials at very high levels — men I can say with confidence are not in conversation with E. J. Dionne, Amy Sullivan, or Obama administration fronts like Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good — spoke to me last fall of their deep appreciation for the Bush administration’s positions on the life issues, AIDS prevention in Africa, AIDS and malaria relief, and religious freedom. Indeed, one very senior official told me that, at his level, it was understood that no American administration of the immediate future was likely to be as supportive of Holy See positions as the Bush administration had been — and this, despite the obvious and serious disagreement over the administration’s 2003 decision to enforce the resolutions of the United Nations and depose Saddam Hussein by force.  [Again… it is possible to disgree over "what to do about Iraq".  And the CCC restates that civil authority determines if the conditions for a "just war" have been met.  But Catholics are not free to disagree about the sanctity of life.  That is why Notre Dame’s choice to honor the most aggressively pro-abortion President we have ever seen is seriously wrong.]

It would, of course, be helpful if the newspaper published by the Holy See did not display a sorry ignorance of recent American history (including the history of the civil-rights movement) and a fideist credulity about the magic of Barack Obama. [Great phrase, George…. "fideist credulity".] To assume that [and here is what I have been saying for weeks now…] the pope and his most senior advisers have drunk the Obama Kool-Aid and wish the American bishops would chill out is, however, another story altogether, and not a very credible one — no matter what foolishness finds its way into the pages of L’Osservatore Romano.  [Does anyone seriously believe that this Pope would see Pres. Obama’s position and actions on abortion as acceptable?]

—George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow at Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.


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  1. Biff says:

    Fr. Neuhaus described himself as a fideist while at Nat’l Review in the early nineties.

  2. Father Z
    Even more disturbing as far as bizarre L’osservatore Romano articles
    was the March 15.2009 statement from Archbichop Salvatore Fisichella
    of the Pontifical academy of life.He more than implies that theraputic
    abortion can sometime be allowed !!?? This centered on the girl in Brazil
    and the abortion of the twins she was carrying. I think this statement is
    still creating major damage and will continue to do so until a clarification or retraction is made. The silence is deafening.

  3. shadrach says:

    Anti-Bush blowback mightn’t be really that inane… Some proper discernment might have led people to such an emotion.
    Europeans and Americans…. Motes and Beams…. Doesn’t the CCC state that it is the responsibility of the civil authorities to determine if the conditions outlined in the CCC have been met before going to war? So, in practical terms the judgement is theirs (ie they decide to do it), but that decision is subject to moral criticism on the basis of the degree to which it diverges from or conforms to the Church’s conditions for just war.

    2309… ‘The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgement of those who have responsibility for the common good.’ (evaluation is discernment before the fact, judgement is discernment after the fact).

  4. DarkKnight says:

    I note that it appears that Obama is not to visit the Vatican during his visit to Rome, apparently the US State Dept has not even opened the appropriate talks to begin arrangements for somehting only two months away. Of course, without an ambassador to the Holy See, perhaps the White House no longer knows the Vatican Secretary of State’s phone number ….

    See http://www.ncregister.com/daily/vatican_not_on_obamas_itinerary

  5. GOR says:

    Having read Rodari’s interview of Vian on his blog, I was shocked at the credulity and shallowness of Vian’s responses. His declaration that l’Osservatore Romano “supports the American bishops” rang hollow against the effusiveness for his support for Obama.

    I used to be similarly shocked by the esteem in which Bill Clinton was held by Europeans. My sister in Ireland could never fail to arouse my anger by telling me how ‘great’ he was. Grrr!

    I agree that much of the European adulation for Obama stems in part from an “anyone but Bush” mindset – long felt in many parts of Europe and not uncommon in some Vatican circles. Just as with Clinton, people are blinded by appearances, glib talk and slick presentation.

    It’s unfortunate that some of these people are on the staff of l’Osservatore Romano. They give cover to the enemy and undermine the task of the Church in the United States. We deserve better.

  6. Does anyone have a link or can copy the article (in English) that L’Osservatore Romano published on Wednesday about Obama speaking at Notre Dame? I missed it and they don’t seem to have it available online anymore, I can only find today’s translations.

    I’d really like to read it!

  7. John 6:54 says:

    I think “the Vatican” should go through a big “RIF” (Reduction in Force). They’ve got tooooooooo much hierarchy in place. Cut the fat and remove the non-essentials. Has that place ever had a really good cleaning? It seems to just be layer upon layer of bureaucracy. Regular people in the world don’t look at encyclicals or homilies all that often they look at newspaper articles and television clips. Get with the times old men…. the Novus Ordo Mass doesn’t make you relevant anymore.

  8. I am not Spartacus says:

    Any American commentator trying to spin these articles as a “Vatican” attempt to tell the bishops of the U.S. to “chill out” (as Time’s Amy Sullivan put it recently, in an article whose spin was similar to that of the Washington Post’s E. J. Dionne) is playing political games.

    It is said that in politics, perception is reality. And of course partisans of perversion will cite LOR as a way to eliminate opposition to the implementation of the liberal project because The LOR, in America, is seen as the voice of The Vatican.

    You cannot expect the enemy to stand idly by while The Vatican LOR hands them the political weapons and the ammo they need.

    I am sure the Obama Camp and its Media Allies are laughing behind closed doors about how anxious we appear to be to cooperate in our being co-opted by the left.

    I think we are fast approaching the point where the liberals have every reason to question whether The Church (aside from The Pope and a few other old Bishops) really believes its own Doctrine or do they just pay lip service to it so they can maintain their cushy positions, power, and perks.

    While educating the public about the reality of LOR is a laudable goal the overwhelmingly vast number of Americas are not educable on that reality.

    I’d much prefer that the LOR publish editorials reflecting and resonating with Catholic Doctrine. Is that too much to ask?

    I’ll admit I am hopelessly naive but for the life of me I can’t understand why it is that on the Checkerboard of Life our enemies so easily jump us and then we end-up having to King another liberal politician who is an enemy of Christ the King.

  9. EDG says:

    This was the best analysis that I have read yet.

    This somewhat ties in with an earlier question, though, which is how Vatican communications can be improved. Although L’Osservatore may not be giving the official line on anything, it is always accepted as such by the US and other press. Therefore, anything that comes out in it that seems to oppose or call into question the Pope, the Vatican, or the Magisterium, is spread around the world immediately and with great glee by the enemies of the Church.

    I do think that to the extent that the Vatican controls this paper, they should do a serious housecleaning, which of course no one ever wants to do. Or, if they have some official control but not enough to ensure compliance, they should do what I hope will be done to Notre Dame: cast it loose. Remove any official connection. As it is now, L’Osservatore is becoming yet another stumbling block to getting the Pope’s message out.

    Finally, I think that one thing we haven’t really taken into consideration is that to a great extent, L’Osservatore missed the true heart of the crisis over ND. Nobody seriously thinks that Obama is going to change his pro-abortion position, and nobody seriously thinks that the Church, even ND (officially), is going to become pro-abortion. But what Obama did by getting Jenkins and a large number of Catholics to defy the bishops was to reveal and aggravate the crisis of authority in the US Church, with many Catholics openly rejecting the teaching of their bishops to follow the program of a political figure who drapes himself in religious language. It’s possible that L’Osservatore didn’t understand that aspect of it (or didn’t care), but it seems to me that this is the crux of the problem and one that L’Osservatore has actually worsened by seeming to undercut the bishops’ opposition.

  10. mpm says:

    Perhaps I’m wrong about this, but I think L’OR originated at a time when the Papacy was heavily involved as a temporal power in Italian politics, and represented the Vatican’s rather temporal policy views regarding Italian politics (for good reason). Later it became a source for some of the various Pope’s writings and allocutions in the vernacular.

    Exactly what point there is to it today (particularly internationally) escapes me somewhat. I doubt that many people actually read it, unless it has some awful “hook” like Mr. Vian’s thoroughly ignorant opinion on this topic, and then, as others have said, it gets quoted by the malicious as if it were the Pope’s diary.

    Are three dots or dashes really the way to communicate in this day and age? Are we under siege and need Morse code-like signals to say “PLEASE DO NOT IGNORE THIS”? If so, then perhaps the official Papal writings could benefit from emoticons?

  11. opey124 says:

    You know, President Obama doesn\’t want to be viewed at a pro-abortion either. This is why, to me, this was damaging. But the facts speak for themselves, regardless of however he wants people to see him, it is reality. George Weigel did a good job clarifying. It is interesting how people from other countries view us.
    Our own catholic newspaper carries Fr. McBrien and I have to almost laugh, when our Bishop tries to speak authoritatively but is dismissed as being one of many opinions. Many have tried to help our Bishop connect the dots (McBrien is undermining all legitimate authority in the Church) but the sake of being \”open\” and all \”views\” without discriminating IN A GOOD WAY the garbage….well

  12. Geoffrey #2 says:

    Does anyone know how many times the Vatican, the LOR, and the Pope himself (JP II) harshly attacked President Bush for the Iraq conflict?

  13. Justin in Ohio says:

    I believe any faithful CAtholics who subscribe to LOR should make their displeasure known by immediately cancelling any such subscriptions….I’m assuming that hitting them in the pocketbook might make the editor wake up to the errors of his ways a little.

    There seems to be enough “free” news on the internet re: Vatican and Church news and issues that a subscription to this print paper would seem unnecessary. I get all my Vatican news via daily emails from Zenit.

  14. Geoffrey says:

    “Does anyone know how many times the Vatican, the LOR, and the Pope himself (JP II) harshly attacked President Bush for the Iraq conflict?”

    I don’t know any exact numbers, but the Holy See made it very clear numerous times that the war in Iraq was an unjust war. The Bush Administration even tried to “lobby” the Holy See… thank goodness the Obama Administration hasn’t tried that… yet!

  15. Geoff (formerly Geoffrey #2) says:

    Thanks for the response, Geoffrey —

    I wrote the following email to the LOR editors’ office:


    Please explain your recent editorial praising the President of the U.S. — He has already shown by his actions that he is pro-abortion. Why has L’Observatorio Romano’s “Editor-in-Chief” said that he ‘firmly believes’ Barack Obama is not a pro-abortion President?

    With all due respect, if your newspaper does not understand American politics, limit your observations!

    Kindly and humbly,

  16. I still can’t understand why Pope Benedict and John Paul II
    and many of our priests, though some of the best Theological and Canonically
    oriented men of modern times delve into politics. Recently, a sermon which
    I thought was one of the best I’ve heard for months, was ended by, “… and
    I heard on the radio this morning that the world is imploding. We’d better
    get out and enjoy the world before we destroy it.”

    Whoa whoa whoa… where’d that come from?!? I’m sure Fr. Z never talks about
    things he doesn’t know in his homilies, but this Priest just didn’t
    know who certain people like Abu Abbas. If you don’t know this fellow, read this link:

    My bottom line: it is a mortal sin to have “Vincible Ignorance” about such matters.

  17. Weigel is misspelled.

  18. “2. In the normal course of events, L’Osservatore Romano does not speak authoritatively for the Church in matters of faith, morals, or public-policy judgment.”

    Then I guess that the new Good Friday prayer for the Jews has not been officially promulgated since it came out first and primarily through the Vatican’s newspaper.

    Regarding the CCC and “just war.” That of course presumes the government officials are taking just war criteria into account when they make their decision. Doubt very much that was the case with the previous administration. Many atrocities occurred, and still occur, due to our occupation in Iraq, and the “conservative” right in the U.S. simply does not want to own up to them.

  19. “My bottom line: it is a mortal sin to have “Vincible Ignorance” about such matters.”

    You are joking, right?

  20. I am not Spartacus says:

    Weigel is misspelled.

    Mr. Mershon. He deserves it after holding back for all of these years the reality that the LOR doesn’t speak for the Pope.

    Who among us haven’t quoted LOR in the past as an authoritative source? We did not quote it as though it were part of The Magisterium, but we did cite it as authoritative because that is the way we were all raised to think of it.

    I wonder how many folks can be convinced the LOR does not speak for the Pope even though the LOR is the official paper of the Vatican?

    BTW, Mr. Weigel, rightly, notes that the usual suspects, Dionne and Sullivan, are using the LOR Editorials in a political manner.

    And he isn’t?

    Until this political dust-up, I don’t recall him educating us that The LOR really doesn’t speak for the Pope.

  21. Matt says:

    “drunk the Obama Kool-Aid” -Impressive analogy- linking Obama with another cult leader Jim Jones

  22. Geoff (formerly Geoffrey #2) says:

    A house divided……

  23. TJM says:

    Brian Mershon,

    Well George Bush is far more “Catholic” than many alleged Catholics one immediately thinks of: Pelosi, Biden, Dodd, Kennedy, etc., etc.
    Also, do yourself a favor. Father Schall a Jesuit at Georgetown wrote an article some time back stating why he believed the Iraq War constituted a just war under
    Catholic doctrine (not liberal, ersatz “Catholic” doctrine). It was pretty convincing.

    Now if you want to talk about atrocities we should discuss Roosevelt or Truman deliberately targeting and killing hundreds of thousands of German and Japanese women and children. Oh, I forgot, they were Democratic presidents, and so the moral code doesn’t apply to them. My mistake.


  24. I am not Spartacus says:

    Oh, I forgot, they were Democratic presidents, and so the moral code doesn’t apply to them. My mistake.

    Mr. Mershon is not stuck inside the political binary box. Just because he didn’t write that liberal democrats also have violated the Just War criteria doesn’t mean he exempts them from the same standard.

  25. LCB says:

    *sigh* It still drives me up the wall seeing how the MSM, and even conservative news sources, run with these stories.

    Prime example is here: http://hotair.com/archives/2009/05/21/editor-of-vatican-newspaper-obamas-not-a-pro-abortion-president/

    Allahpundit is an agnostic/atheist Conservative pundit. When he reads the words as they are written and as they are intended to be read, he reaches the obvious conclusion.

    And I don’t really fault him for that.

  26. “I forgot, they were Democratic presidents, and so the moral code doesn’t apply to them. My mistake.”

    Classic whataboutery from Tom.

  27. David Kastel says:

    George Weigel is just a political propagandist.

    He points out that “the Vatican” is not monolithic….and he justifies this by effectively saying that Europeans are monolithic:

    “3. It is true, however, that the offices of the Holy See are replete with middle- and lower-level officials who are enamored of Barack Obama. Why? In most cases, because they are Europeans who share the typical European Obamaphilia and whose sources of information and analysis are manifestly skewed. ”

    OK, George…the Vatican is not monolithic, but “Europeans” are…

    And how exactly does George Wiegel know all the middle and lower-level officials in the Vatican, and what all their sources of information are, given that it is such a big bureaucracy??? Weigel gets an “A” in his propaganda class. He reports…you believe!

  28. LCB says:

    Just because you dislike what he says, David, doesn’t mean what he says isn’t true.

  29. Yes, I guess you’re right. What I meant is vincible ignorance about such
    a subject matter is very bad, especially if you try to indoctrinate other
    people from the pulpit during your sermon which they can’t leave
    because of their Sunday obligations.

  30. Nick says:

    Let me see if I understand: the Vatican’s only newspaper should be ignored unless professional research is given to byzantine hints contained in a few rare articles, the secretary of state should be ignored, most bishops should be ignored, most priests should be ignored and His Holiness is silent? Hmmm. And people still wonder why there is such a mess.

  31. Bookworm says:

    I used to be a reporter for various newspapers, including a Catholic diocesan paper.

    Most secular newspapers carry columnists and articles that don’t always reflect the views of the publisher or of the company which owns the paper. Publishers do NOT wander the newsroom every day looking over the reporters’ and editors’ shoulders or telling them what articles to write or not write. Even the “official” editorials usually reflect the views of the editorial board, which may include the publisher, but does not always. Just because your local paper carries “Doonesbury” or a syndicated column by, say, Ellen Goodman or even Ted Rall doesn’t “prove” that the publisher is a flaming liberal. An official editorial endorsing a particular candidate for president, governor, mayor, etc. doesn’t necessarily mean that the publisher or everyone who works at the paper is going to vote for that person.

    As for Catholic papers, even in “conservative” dioceses, the bishop (who often is listed officially as the publisher) doesn’t dictate every word that goes into the paper. Everything that appears in a diocesan newspaper doesn’t necessarily represent the views of one’s bishop. Most bishops “spike” diocesan newspaper content only when it is clearly contrary to an article of faith or morals (and some bishops don’t do it even then).

    I don’t know exactly how LOR is structured, but even assuming it’s analogous to a diocesan paper and the Pope serves as its publisher, the Pope is not going to personally review everything that appears in the paper, and he is not going to kill most opinion essays or articles, even if he doesn’t agree with them.

    While the immorality of abortion is, of course, not debateable, how bishops should have responded to the Obama appearance at Notre Dame is. It is possible to be fully pro-life, in agreement with Church teachings, and opposed to Obama’s abortion policies, but still think the U.S. bishops as a whole might have overreacted. We may not agree with that (I don’t), and think that it understates the seriousness of Obama’s anti-life policies; but as long as its not a blatantly heretical viewpoint, the writers for LOR can get away with publishing it.

  32. mpm says:

    Comment by Bookworm — 22 May 2009 @ 6:55 am


    I understand what you are saying. Mr. Vian’s piece, whatever he would make of your views, does not seem to have an inkling of what the larger issue is in the USA, perhaps because there are relatively few private universities in Europe anymore), which is, in my opinion:

    What should a “Catholic” university be in relation to communion with the Catholic Church, on a doctrinal, moral and even temporal basis.

    I think most people have considered and understand the doctrinal and moral aspect of this, but there is also a “temporal” aspect of the question, which inviting the Head of State of the USA brings to the fore.

    I doubt if any Catholic American would take issue, or be scandalized, to have the President of the USA invited to speak at a commencement ceremony, as long as it is made clear (to avoid objective scandal) that the university is not thereby indicating approval of any policies of his which cannot be countenanced by Catholics, and perhaps with positive (versus presumptive) disapproval being expressed by whomever introduces him to the audience, however lightly. In such a case, one would not be awarding him anything special.

    Mr. Vian is probably poorly-informed about the nature of a private university, much less a private Catholic university, so apart from why it needed to appear in L’OR, is the question of why we need hear from him on this topic in the first place?

    With regard to the “temporal” aspects of this aspect of communion, it seems that the Bishops, alone or together, would be the best ones to judge about that, which is, in fact what I take them to have done in their document which has been cited.

  33. must have hit on a forboden topic. No arguing that the war in Iraq was a MASSIVE mistake that has only increased security tensions for Americans by everyone throughout the world.

    Forgot I cannot bring that up among the Republican worshippers who equate conservative American politics with “orthodox” Catholicism.

    Also, forgot I shouldn’t mention that the principles of the “just war” criteria developed primarily by St. Augustine do indeed leave their applications up the State leaders. However, they also presume (as in the CCC) that the leaders of the State understand, and try to apply, just war principles–which the Bush administration obivously did not. There is no evidence. Therefore, the point about leaving it to the State (even though Pope JPII and Cardinal Ratzinger were CLEARLY and DECIDEDLY against the unprovoked Iraq invasion, is moot.

    Forgot we’re not allowed to bring this up in front of proud American conservatives.

  34. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    George Weigel writes:

    “Pro-administration American journalists and activists . . . “

    But, I thought Weigel was “pro-administration”?

    Oh, that’s right. Only when that Administration is sending people to secret prisons in foreign countries to have their testicles electrocuted.

    Sorry, I forgot.

  35. I am not Spartacus says:

    Everything that appears in a diocesan newspaper doesn’t necessarily represent the views of one’s bishop

    That is certainly true of The Bishop of Rome.


    20. It will be the task of the Bishops, however, to watch over such works and undertakings in their own dioceses, to promote them and, as far as the public apostolate is concerned, to guide them, not excluding those that are under the direction of exempt religious.

  36. I am not Spartacus says:

    Well, The LOR did a congratulatory piece on the 40th Anniversary of The Beatles release of their, “White Album,”http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0805936.htm so it appears we Catholics are just going to have to get used to more change and updating.

    I just hope that if (when?) LOR starts publishing cartoons, it begins with “Peanuts” and not “Doonesbury.”

  37. I am not Spartacus says:
  38. LCB says:

    The left’s tactic of screaming “BUSH!” to avoid rational discussion of anything is really growing tiresome.

  39. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    LCB wrote:

    The left’s tactic of screaming “BUSH!” to avoid rational discussion of anything is really growing tiresome.

    Not a lefty; not a righty. I’m a Catholic.

    Not screaming, “Bush!” Just pointing out Weigel’s own dissent from the teaching of an ecumenical council (Vatican II) on torture (Gaudium et Spes, no. 27) and war (nos. 79-81) as well as from the ordinary magisterium expressed through His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

    Wait! Isn’t Humanae Vitae also considered part of the Church’s “ordinary magisterium”? I think it is.

    So, remember Mr. Weigel: When you point a dissenter’s finger at Fr. Jenkins of NDU, there are three more pointing back at you.

  40. Phil Steinacker says:

    I had no idea the TLM was loved so much by hard-core anti-Bush lefties. Who woulda ever thunk it?

  41. RBrown says:

    And how exactly does George Wiegel know all the middle and lower-level officials in the Vatican, and what all their sources of information are, given that it is such a big bureaucracy??? Weigel gets an “A” in his propaganda class. He reports…you believe!
    Comment by David Kastel

    He doesn’t need to know all the officials in the Vatican to know it’s not monolithic. If I want to prove that chocolate ice cream is not served every day, it’s not necessary to know all the days, just one day when it is not.

  42. MichaelJ says:


    I would sincerely welcome a rational discussion about Catholic Just War doctrine and how it applies (or does not apply) to the war in Iraq. This may not be the proper venue, though…

    Keep in mind, though, that I strenuously object to gratuitous assertions, or arguments that presume some magical knowledge

  43. mpm says:

    Comment by Matthew W. I. Dunn — 22 May 2009 @ 5:50 pm

    Dear MWID,

    I had no idea that Mr. Weigel dissented from the Church on war, torture and
    artificial contraception. Where can I find those dissents, please? Just a link
    or two, I don’t want to open up a rabbit hole and discuss it here.

  44. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    Dear MPM:

    Weigel has argued for years against the “presumption of peace” by which, he thinks, theologians smuggle in an unjustified pacifism.

    Except that, GS, nos. 79-82 begins with the view that humanity should live in peace, and only then goes on to war . . . on which, by the way, it urges a ban (no. 82)!

    The U.S. bishops; other bishops’ conferences; even Pope John Paul II himself were pretty clear as to the unjustifiable nature of the Iraq war (which Weigel called, “preventive”).





    John Paul even reminded Pres. Bush during his visit of the Vatican’s “unequivocal position” on Iraq.


    As to torture, he bears the consequences for being a chearleader for the Bush Administration’s Iraq.

    He has certainly never denounced the conditions at Guantanamo Bay, where — apart from whether the prison should exist or not — some prisoners have been tortured; nor, does he talk about the practice of “rendition” (sending people to foreign prisons where they might be tortured). His silence on these matters has been deafening: a sin of omission.

    Though, things seem to be changing: Recently (First Things, Mar. 2009), he mentioned “the borderline between aggressive interrogation and torture.” Ah, . . . so, now we see Weigel crafting a distinction between really, hardcore torturing someone and just slapping him around; or, depriving him of sleep; or, refusing to take him to the bathroom; etc. and so forth.

    Much like his “preventive” vs. “pre-emptive” war dodge in order to justify the Iraq invasion.

    Such parsing! Charlie Curran would be proud.

  45. Phil Steinacker says:


    I don’t care what you call yourself your prononcements are pure left-wing positions. You may be a personal manifestation of the notion that extreme right and extreme left will move so far out they eventually come around the other side and almost meet – but in a horseshoe, not a circle.

    Tell me…in hindsight do you condemn the Israelis for taking out the armies of 6 Muslim nations in a pre-emptive attack on the eve of Yom Kippur 1973? I don’t. I remember well that my Catholic high school had an assembly where the devastation of those Muslim armies was announced and we – students, religious brothers and priests – stood, cheered, and hoped the Muslim nations involved might be stupid enough to try again real soon. I still wish they had.

    Also, if your family’s safety was at stake I not only would support “enhanced interrogation” to extract information necessary to save them, I would carry it out myself cheerfully and with a totally clear conscience as a Catholic. I’m sure you wouldn’t do the same for mine.

    You talk leftwing nonsense – whether you like it or not.

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