A group of Catholic intellectuals, writing at the new website Solidarity Hall, have posted an open letter to Catholic thinker, author, and public intellectual George Weigel. It is a response to Weigel’s new book, Evangelical Catholicism. The letter is one of the most scathing critiques of Weigel’s brand of free-market, neo-liberal Catholicism that I have ever read. Here is just a small snippet:
- While having written extensively about the dangers of a selective approach to Catholic doctrine and teachings, you uncharacteristically recommended that your readers approach Benedict’s Caritas in Veritate with gold and red pens in hand, red for any criticism of neoliberal orthodoxy (such as that favored by the Acton Institute), gold for unobjectionable criticism of the culture of death. Are you not thereby facilitating precisely the cafeteria Catholic’s approach to such documents? Do you not believe that living “lives of moral heroism against the conventions of the age” has to include a rejection of consumerism and the whole complex of cultural values associated with it?
- Echoing the sentiments of his 20th Century predecessors, Pope John Paul II once stated, “War is always a defeat for humanity.” You beg to differ, and have dedicated a good part of your public career to espousing your interpretation of just war principles, which you vigorously asserted in the case of the Iraq War. A decade later, in the aftermath of one of the worst humanitarian and moral disasters in recent world history, that “Marshall Plan for the New American Century” looks very different. Given your prominence in reconciling faithful Catholics to this series of decisions, might we ask whether any second thoughts have occurred to you (as they certainly have to fellow conservatives such as David Frum and others) on the conflict? How would you evaluate your own prudential judgment, historically speaking, in making the principled case for this particular war? Would you not acknowledge that our American leadership of our recent almost interminable conflicts is a product of a technocratic hubris completely alien to the generation of George Marshall and George Kennan? If the Vatican is wise to eschew recommending “technical solutions,” as you advise, due to its supposed lack of competence in such matters, how much worse has the supposed expertise of our secular leadership proven to be? Who, as we now can see, spoke up in a timely way for prudence and a sense of human limits here?
Read the entire letter here.