The Catholic Neocons and the Liquidity of Scripture

41unqr2Q4TL._SL500_SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Hello Reader,

I am currently progressing through George Weigel’s first major work, Tranquillitas Ordinis: The Present Failure and Future Promise of American Catholic Thought on War and Peace (1987). It is well known that this work jump started Weigel’s career as a neocon filter between the Vatican and the United States. It is also well known that this work was meant to justify American imperialism in response to the US Catholic Bishops’ condemnation of nuclear proliferation, the 1983 “The Challenge of Peace.”

There are, however, a number of gems in the book, including the following revelation in which Weigel implies that he believes that the Gospels are in some way flawed:

“But it would be unfair, and in fact mistaken, to look to the New Testament for a systematic explication of Christian moral teaching on the ethics of war and peace. During much of the period in which the New Testament was composed, the Christian community lived in expectation of the imminent return of its Lord. This hope for decisive, world-ending act of God in history colored much of the preaching of Jesus as it has been preserved for us in the Gospels.”

If I am not mistaken, Weigel is using the historicist approach to explain away the Gospels and the words of Our Lord. In fact, Weigel is implying that the words of Our Lord were inaccurately presented by the confused early Christians who composed the Gospels.

It certainly is possible that Weigel changed his mind regarding the inerrancy of Scripture later on.

However, this is not the first time I have seen something strangely “liberal” in the writings of a group of journalists who claim to be representing conservative Catholicism.

It does however, make perfect sense for a Catholic neocon to look for only those things that serve his political agenda in the Bible and then disregard the rest as being limited by the historical milieu of the author, which for a Catholic, is actually God Himself.

 

 

From the Horse’s Mouth

 

1499641_1387275304869466_354754646_nApropos of John Paul II’s opposition to the second Iraq War, which Catholic neocons have unsuccessfully attempted to hide, I have found this gem from John Allen’s The Francis Miracle. Writing of Pope Francis’s successful prevention of an Obama war in Syria in 2013, Allen writes of “…John Paul II’s vain efforts to stop the Iraq offensive in 2003, which included dispatching personal envoys to both Sadaam Hussein and President George W. Bush in February and March of that year…”

So, who is misleading? John Allen or the neocons?

John Paul II and the First Gulf War

220px-Bush_troops

 

Dear Reader,

One of the great cracks that broke open in the face of neoconservative Catholicism in the early 21st century was the dissonance between the Vatican and self-appointed voices of John Paul II in the United States, the Catholic neocons, over the 2003 Gulf War. The failed attempt by Michael Novak who traveled to Rome on behalf of the State Department to garner support for the war is well known as is the efforts of George Weigel and others to downplay John Paul II’s apparent opposition.

However, it is often forgotten that the late Holy Father condemned even more explicitly the first Gulf War led by president George H.W. Bush. In his Urbi and Orbi speech at the end of March 1991, John Paul II stated of the war:

“A choice was made of aggression and the violation of international law, when it was presumed to solve the tensions between the peoples by war, the sower of death..”

These were not the only comments made by John Paul regarding the injustice of the Gulf War.

While Catholic neocons in the past have admitted that John Paul did oppose the first Gulf War, in his most recent work Lessons in Hope, George Weigel tells a different story. According to Weigel, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran

“confirmed that John Paul II had called President George H.W. Bush the night before the ultimatum to Saddam Hussein requiring him to evacuate Kuwait or face allied military action expired: the Pope said that if diplomacy couldn’t resolve a violation of international law that must not stand, he hoped the allies would win, Saddam would be ejected from Kuwait, and there would be as few casualties as possible.”

So, here we have a curious conundrum, and there are possibilities.

  1. Weigel is lying.
  2. Cardinal Tauran was lying.
  3. John Paul II told George H.W. Bush one thing and the world another (this is actually the worst possible scenario).

 

The Intellectual Fermentation of John Paul II

index

 

A book that I want to write in the not so distant future will be titled The Mind and Heart of John Paul II: A Critical Examination. In this work, I will explore just exactly what John Paul II believed and taught. One of the curious periods in John Paul II’s intellectual career is his study under Fr. Garrigou Lagrange, the last great Thomist. One would think that the impeccable orthodoxy of Fr. Garrigou Lagrange would rub off on John Paul II, and maybe it did.

In his recent autobiography, George Weigel notes that Polish Stefan Swiezawski “introduced Wojtyla to the works of the French philosophers Etienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain, which took Wojtyla beyond the intellectual milieu in which he was immersed at the Angelicum during his doctoral studies.” Thus like Paul VI, John Paul II was bitten by the bug of Neo-Thomism, and we can thus trace some of the liberal political ideas as well as some of the roots of the personalist anthropology that corrupted John Paul II’s thinking in his reading of Maritain, the grandfather of Catholic neoconservativism.

It is further interesting that Weigel is clearly pleased that John Paul II was weaned off of the the traditional Thomism he learned at the Angelicum.

 

 

The Catholic Neocon Project and the Auto-Demolition of the Faith (George Weigel Lets Another Cat Out of the Bag)

250px-Time-magazine-cover-john-courtney-murray.jpg

Many arguments given in favor of religious liberty argue that Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae was crafted to protect the Church by giving it breathing room in the new modern liberal secular states that had solidified power after the two World Wars. However, it is clear that Dignitatis Humanae (or at least the interpretation of the document) has been used to deconstruct and destroy traditionally Catholic countries in which the Church was given pride of place.

In his his forth coming Lessons in Hope, George Weigel argues that he (and the other Catholic neocons) wanted to use John Paul II as a figure not only to try to secure the Church a space in the public sphere in liberal democracies but to cripple traditionally Catholic countries. While visiting Poland in 2012, Weigel writes of his shock that the Polish people had not accepted American liberalism and still wanted to be Polish Catholics :

“Throughout the week, though, I was struck by how poorly John Paul II’s intellectual project had been received and internalized in Poland, with the exception of my Polish Dominican friends, a few other scholars in Lublin and elsewhere, and a scattering of journalists, politicians, and laypeople. Poland’s emotional attachment to the late Pope was massively evident the year before in Rome, at his beatification. But John Paul’s vision of a public Church that was not a partisan Church, a Church that shaped public life by forming culture through the evangelization and catechesis of the people, was not much in evidence in twenty-first century Poland, sadly. That impression was a portent of difficulties to come in Polish public life.”

Weigel thus believes that the Church in Poland is still too militant, too traditional and too strong, and the Polish people should have heeded Weigel’s presentation of John Paul II and Vatican II as advocating American style  “religious freedom.” He further strangely argues that this militancy of the Polish Church would lead to “difficulties” in Polish public life. Was that supposed to be a threat? What exactly is the goal of Catholic neocons? Should he be happy that Poland is still so proudly Catholic?

George Weigel: Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

download

 

In the final chapter of his forthcoming autobiography, Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II, George Weigel writes of the guiding icon of his biographies of John Paul II:

“The cross beneath which I wrote Witness to Hope and The End and the Beginning is a framed reproduction of Marc Chagall’s White Crucifixion.”

He further writes:

“The White Crucifixion has long struck me as the most evocative religious painting of the twentieth century. Painted shortly after the Nazi Kristallnacht in 1938, it unmistakably Jewish, clothed on the cross in a tallith, a traditional prayer shawl, with Pilate’s inscription in Hebrew over his bowed head. Instead of mourning angels common to renderings of the Crucifixion, he is surrounded by three Jewish patriarchs and a matriarch; beneath him is a ceremonial seven-branched candelabrum, and around him swirl the lethal ideological madnesses of the mid-twentieth century, symbolized by Jews fleeing burning synagogues and revolutionaries following the red flag.”

Weigel makes no bones about his hatred of Communism and Nazism, but he sees the two ideologies in conflict not with Christendom but with the Anglo-American (and now Israeli) economic and political order. This painting is thus a curious key to understanding Weigel’s views.

Furthermore, Marc Chagall has stated that White Crucifixion should not be interpreted as a Christian painting, and that for him “…Christ always symbolized the true type of the Jewish martyr.” Thus the near official papal biographer, George Weigel, composed the allegedly definitive biography of John Paul II under the illumination of a painting of Christ, dethroned of his divinity, and presented as an icon of the suffering Jewish people in a manner that is clearly meant to slight Christianity.

Examining this passage along with Weigel’s humanism and liberalism and unqualified support for the state of Israel (and unmitigated contempt for the Palestinian people), one wonders what are the real religious beliefs of the papal biographer?

George Weigel, John Paul II, and Zbigniew Brzezinski Revisited

 

41QkqjeKN-L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

While writing a review of George Weigel’s new work Lessons In Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II, I came across a number of interesting tidbits. The book itself serves as pot boiler, running on the fumes of the popularity of John Paul II’s papacy and is a way to try to jump start the magic of Catholic neoconservativism in the wake of Francis’ very liberal papacy, which is causing Catholics to hemorrhage from the Church. Weigel is a master of making the same repetitive points (and jokes) in slightly modified form in new books with goofily sentimental titles. Perhaps actually literally copying and pasting from his other works, Weigel revisits the same issues in Lessons in Hope that he did in earlier biographies, providing some of the background information for how he wrote his Witness to Hope and repeatedly emphasizing that he is a Vatican insider and exclusive source for any biographical information on John Paul II. One of the most interesting sections is Weigel’s revisiting of the influence of Polish expatriot and American statesman and founder of the Trilateral Commission, Zbigniew Brezinski on John Paul II. 

One of Weigel’s main purposes in his second major biography of John Paul II, The End and the Beginning, was to disprove any conspiracy theories that John Paul II worked with KGB or CIA–this topic is not approached with the same intensity in Witness to Hope. However, as I have written on this blog, in Witness to Hope, Weigel does feel obligated to explain away the theory that the now recently deceased Zbigniew Bryzezinski pushed for John Paul II’s election through Cardinal Krol in order to bring the Vatican under tighter control of American intelligence. If this theory is so outrageous, why does Weigel feel obligated to bring this up and over and over again?

Weigel repeatedly ridicules conspiracy theories and theorists in his writings as if they were manifestly beneath him. Nonetheless, he feels obligated to “refute” these conspiracies in every one of his works. In Lessons in Hope, Weigel lets us know that Brzezinski was happy that Weigel was writing Witness Hope in order to clear up “attempts by several authors to suggest some sort of collusion between John Paul II and the United States government in the collapse of European communism” (176). Why does Weigel feel the need to bring this issue up if it is only circulated among fringe lunatics? Furthermore, we see (at least in Weigel’s view) the goal of collaborative efforts of American statesman and John Paul II in toppling the Soviet Union is to bring about the triumph of democracy, freedom, and liberalism, not the the triumph of Christ the king and Christian civilization. According to Weigel, both John Paul and Brzezinski thought that a “cultural resistance…emphasizing human dignity” could overturn Soviet Communism (176). So, in this case, it is not the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary but rather the human spirit that will triumph over totalitarianism.

In Lessons in Hope, Weigel even feels obligated to defend Brzezinski’s alleged Catholic identity, saying “Brzezinski did not wear piety on his sleeve, but he never thought of himself as anything other than a Catholic and a Polish Catholic that” (177).  This is a clear response to the enormous evidence of Brzezinski’s totalitarian and eugenic views. Again, it is very strange that Weigel feels any need to defend Brzezinski at all who was much more part of the Democratic circle than Weigel’s own Republican crew. Weigel, who, to speak charitably, is no genius, reveals more than conceals by his fumbled attempts to hide the clear Western intelligence connection to the Vatican and perhaps John Paul II himself.

Interestingly, having read much of what George Weigel has written on John Paul II, I feel as though I have no idea who John Paul II. It is difficult to believe that Weigel himself has a window to John Paul II’s heart and mind (as he tries to prove in the book), but it is very likely that Weigel’s role in the grand scheme of John Paul’s papacy was to act as interpretive conduit who would help neutralize Catholic traditionalism and defuse liberation theology.