Fishwrap’s Wile E. Coyote v. @DouthatNYT and his new book for Pope Francis’ 5th anniversary

  • shocking, absolutely shocking
  • unhinged
  • lunatic fringe
  • unhelpful admixture of bias and ignorance
  • binary simplicity of his theological analysis
  • a 7-year-old’s paint-by-numbers drawing with the collection of the Louvre (followed by, incredibly, “I do not exaggerate”.)
  • Coarse and hoary!
  • myopic
  • unsourced
  • tendentious
  • grotesque
  • unbalanced
  • disgrace

This is a sample of terms used by Michael Sean Winters’ – the Wile E. Coyote of the catholic Left and junior member of the New catholic Red Guards – in his hysterical 3200+ word review of Ross Douthat and his new book, thus confirming it as sound and a good buy.


I say Douthat and his book, since Winters piece is mostly ad hominem invective.

In essence, Winters’ problem is that Douthat spoke with people whom Winters doesn’t like, never bothers to contact and talk to (whom he labels as “cranks”) and then – imagine! come to conclusions that don’t coincide with the Received Message Approved by the New catholic Red Guards.

Wile. E! Defender of Popes!

I almost laughed aloud when Winters accused former Fishwrap pillar John Allen as having anti-Francis bias. I guess Allen hasn’t applauded vigorously enough in the Great Hall of the Pueblo.

In any event, in his attack on Douthat’s sources – unfootnoted, named, etc. – Winters does the same thing of which he accuses Douthat.  “One synod father commented… Another synod father told me… I asked one of the synod fathers…”.  Slick, huh?

Winter even situates himself as the defender of Popes John Paul and Benedict against Douthat’s “slurs”. Yes, he used that word.

Just make popcorn and chuckle.  You can’t take any of this too seriously. It was as inevitable as birds flying south for the Winters.

There is, perhaps, a key to understanding why Wile E.’s ACME-fueled spittle is today flecking with such venom. He wrote:

Could it be that there is a kind of American Catholic, be it a political operative or a CEO, for whom it is important to keep conservative sexual norms as the touchstone of Catholic identity rather than, say, commitment to the poor?

Could it be that there is a kind of catholic Left operative who is angry because some defend “conservative sexual norms”?


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  1. Henry Edwards says:

    Coyote: “I cannot recommend that anyone buy this book”

    This told me all I needed to know about Douthat’s book, so I immediately one-clicked it at Amazon.

    Perhaps Douthat should cut Wiley E. in for a share of his royalties.

  2. erick says:

    Commitment to the poor? That’s a great good, but may God forbid that there be any “touchstone for Catholic identity” other than Christ.

  3. maternalView says:

    I read Winters’ article. That was painful. But also amusing. And revealing. His article is really a nice example of lefty catholic boilerplate bereft of substance.

    I’d like to point out to Winters that many organizations help the poor but the Church is the only one that still stands for sexual morality. And statistically in the US children are less likely to be poor if their parents adhere to the moral teachings of the Church and have children within marriage.

  4. Benedict Joseph says:

    Now I have to buy it!

  5. Carrie says:

    I think that was the point. Christ’s commitment to the poor, society outcasts, etc— was the heart of his life and ministry. It’s not just good. As followers of Christ— it IS the touchstone of our faith.

  6. jaykay says:

    “to keep conservative sexual norms as the touchstone of Catholic identity rather than, say, commitment to the poor?”

    And there is a dichotomy between the two? I’m sure a certain 1st Century Gallilean didn’t see that there was.

    As has often been said in these quarters, it’s all “below the belt” with certain types. They’re fixated on it.

  7. catholicjen says:

    Those “conservative sexual norms” are actually doing important things for children and subsequent generations.

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  9. Fallibilissimo says:

    3 cheers for Fr Z’s hilarious sense of humour! Wile E. Coyote as MSW, or the other way around, it’s hard to tell at times. ROFL. Where do you come up with these? Just hilarious. The Maiost uniform is the cherry on the top. [I think it was Robbie George who came up with the oh-so-apt Wile E. Coyote nickname. I came up with the Red Guard thing, based on the behavior of these Leftist writers: under the direction of their cadres they behave like the students in the streets who targeted anyone and everyone who dared to stray from the daily iteration of the accepted Mao Thought.]
    I need a good laugh these days, and after lent can’t wait to couple those laughs with a few good whiskies. It’s good to be Catholic.

    On a more serious note, why is it MSW seems to hate “conservatives” so? Where does that come from? MSW, if you read this, don’t be so scared, conservatives aren’t monsters. They can be quite friendly, kind and normally have the best self-deprecating jokes (that’s my experience). You should speak to some every once and awhile, they won’t bite. The worst they’ll do is pray a passive aggressive rosary for you…there are worst things in life!

  10. Fallibilissimo says:

    “Could it be that there is a kind of American Catholic, be it a political operative or a CEO, for whom it is important to keep conservative sexual norms as the touchstone of Catholic identity rather than, say, commitment to the poor?”

    Let’s remember to ask that of Mother Teresa if we make to heaven. Why was she so “obsessed” with contraception and abortion instead of caring for the poor? tsk tsk…

  11. HeatherPA says:

    “Winter even situates himself as the defender of Popes John Paul and Benedict against Douthat’s “slurs”. Yes, he used that word.”

    Desperate times call for desperate measures, Father.

  12. chantgirl says:

    Carrie- Christ’ love for the poor flowed from His mission to save the poorest of the poor- sinners. Christ made it very clear that combating spiritual poverty took priority over combating physical poverty.

    He warned us not to fear those who could harm the body, but those who could harm the soul eternally. When people grumbled about a disciple using expensive perfume to anoint His feet, He reminded them that they would always have the poor with them, but not Him. He healed the sick in order that people might believe a greater miracle- that He could forgive sins. He fed the 5000 bread in order that they might be ready to receive Him as the bread of life. During His temptation in the desert, He made it clear that the word of God was more important for man than food.

    If the heart of our faith was alleviating physical poverty, the pinnacle of Christ’s ministry would not have been the crucifixion. He might have instead ended hunger, or changed the natural order of the world so that people did not suffer illness or natural disasters.

    He chose to save our souls, and handed that on as the mission of the Church. As a Church we care for the physical needs of the poor because we love them as people, recognizing that they have physical and spiritual needs, but Christ has made clear that the spiritual is higher in order of importance.

  13. Semper Gumby says:

    This is an above-average outburst from Michael Sean Winters. One wonders how many journeys between fainting couch and computer were made by MSW while hatching this amusing screed. No doubt he clutched smelling salts and a Karl Marx teddy bear on his treks back and forth, as his stereo blared “The East is Red” to inspire him to even greater heights of ridiculousness. [LOL!]

    Well, against my better judgement and only after donning a HazMat suit, I shuffled over to the Fishwrap for a look-see at MSW’s book review. At first all was quiet, and here MSW could not be mistaken for a deranged Mesopotamian king threatening foreign goat herders with the blood-curdling wrath of Pazuzu for straying into his irrigation canals. Nay,nay. Merely, “compliments” of Mr. Douthat’s writing style and “almost lawyerly logic.”

    Then, paragraph two: “But I come to bury Douthat not to praise him.” Methinks: “This is going to be legendary, MSW has written a Sword-and-Sandal attack on our trusty scribe Douthat.”

    Alas, it was not to be, rather it was the same old failed Acme blueprint by Wile E. Coyote. Douthat is “political,” MSW and his cohort are “profoundly pastoral.” Douthat “mistakes the Twitter feed of extreme conservatives for reality” and “Douthat should go write novels.”

    MSW caps it off by listing his enemies, in the manner of a sun-addled Pharoah writing an Execration Text: “LifeSite News, Catholic World Report, and John Zmirak are the lunatic fringe.” So there.

    One suspects that MSW is in fact “shocked, shocked” to find Catholics in the Catholic Church.

    Carrie: Please take a closer look at the Gospels, your comment is straying into “Jesus is a Social Justice Warrior” territory. Also, your capitalization of the word “is” is telling.

    Henry Edwards: Exactly.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  14. Carrie says:

    Well said, chantgirl, though I hold a different view. But let’s say it’s both-and rather than either-or. It’s not the first time I’ve heard from Catholics, “It’s all well and good to care for the poor, but…” What ”but?”

  15. ChesterFrank says:

    Alright I get it. This is the lunatic far-left interpretation of the Pope Francis legacy, and the Dictator Pope is the far-right version. I am not going to read either. If you find a book on Pope Francis that you whole heartedly can recommend, let me know because that I will read. I already deal with enough trash in life.

  16. Carrie says:

    SG: Yes, Jesus is a social justice warrior. Yes, it IS what I believe and practice. Praise the Lord that we are both deeply committed to our faith.

  17. Semper Gumby says:

    Carrie: Please remember that a SJW advocates stridently or belligerently for a return to the regressive policies of the 20th century, and that the SJW tends to have a totalitarian disposition. Those regressive policies are disguised differently in the 21st century, but the same old totalitarian dispositions are active today: the triumph of the will, Marxist economic determinism, lethal hostility towards scapegoats, atheism or inner divinity, a zeal for absolute power, and a visceral desire for revolution, destruction, and violence.

    Deo Volente, you will continue to be enriched by Jesus Christ, His Gospel, and His Church. Cheers.

  18. Carrie says:

    SG: What?? Have you read our Catholic Social Teaching documents? Their source is the Gospels.

    [  {GOLF VOICE:} What Carrie doesn’t realize is that she has stepped into the wrong arena with an unknown opponent. Let’s see what happens next!]

  19. Semper Gumby says:

    Carrie wrote: “What??”

    Yes Carrie, that is indeed the definition of Social Justice Warrior. Therefore, Jesus Christ is not a Social Justice Warrior.

    Two quotes are helpful here:

    “A major fault of the Social Justice movement is that it does not seek justice for individuals, but collectives.” Dana Casey, Crisis Magazine

    “Jesus was, in effect, saying to Satan, “You tempt Me to a religion which would relieve want; you want Me to be a baker, instead of a Savior; to be a social reformer, instead of a Redeemer. You are tempting Me away from My Cross, suggesting that I be a cheap leader of people, filling their bellies instead of their souls…Bread there must be, but remember even bread gets all its power to nourish mankind from Me. Bread without Me can harm man.” Fulton Sheen

    I sincerely understand Carrie that this may take some time to absorb. No worries.

    In the meantime, after Holy Mass this morning, I’ll be in the crowd at Augusta watching the unknown Carl Spackler – the incredible Cinderella Boy out of nowhere- lead the pack. Cheers.

  20. Carrie says:

    Interesting, SG. Well, I can say that my passion for social justice is rooted in the Gospels, esp Mt 25, Catholic Social Teaching (You may not like them, you may not have ever read them, you may not accept them— but these are official documents of the Catholic Church), and the Catholic Works of Mercy. I have no doubts that I am being a faithful (and flawed, as we all are) Christian. In my personal and professional experience, social justice benefits groups AND the individuals within them; often, an individual or family are tended to in response to a need. I’ve never had a sense of the Satanic when helping the poor, disenfranchised, etc. That’s just… odd. But, I understand you and I come from different educational and experiential perspectives, so… So be it. As I responded earlier to another poster— both are important ways to understand and follow Christ.

    Enjoy your movie, SG. I will be on a Holy Week retreat this afternoon/evening, and will remember you and all here in prayer.

  21. Semper Gumby says:

    Carrie wrote: “Interesting, SG.” I sincerely agree with you Carrie, Matthew 25 and the Magisterium are fundamental, Fulton Sheen and Dana Casey are insightful. Disagreement arises with labelling Jesus Christ a Social Justice Warrior- a secular, erroneous, and belligerent term for Our Savior.

    You wrote that, “I’ve never had a sense of the Satanic when helping the poor…that’s just…odd.” Fair enough Carrie. There are many, though, in the Social Justice movement beholden to a certain political ideology, who act with ulterior motives, and who possess distorted dispositions. One example: there are some Social Justice Warriors who dislike, or are even disgusted by, typing or uttering a single word of Latin. Cheers.

    p.s. A little more fun here, the “Gunga Galunga” scene from that golf movie:

  22. Carrie says:

    Wait— not liking Latin is Satanic?? Yikes. Oh, you were being facetious…

    Never was drawn to Caddyshack, but I hear the The Greatest Showman is fantastic!

    May God bless you during this Holy Week and Easter, SG.

  23. Semper Gumby says:

    Carrie: No, you misunderstood. Please read that paragraph again, you missed something useful. Note well that there is more going on in those two movie clips than humor.

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