From AMERICA, 10/12/09:
Proofreading the Pope
John F. Kavanaugh
The Tablet of London reported in early September that George Weigel has been bringing to Polish Catholics his criticism of the “incoherent sentimentalism” of Pope Benedict XVI’s new encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. Apparently Weigel claims that since the encyclical does not represent the pope’s views, Catholics should remain faithful to the “pro-capitalist teachings” of their countryman Pope John Paul II.
Weigel, of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is the author of a massive biography of Pope John Paul II titled Witness to Hope.
Though widely researched and respectfully praised, the book does not very successfully establish the “pro-capitalist teachings” of the pope who, as a Fortune magazine editor complained in November 1982, was “wedded to socialist economics and increasingly a sucker for third world anti-imperialist rhetoric.” Weigel acknowledges the harsh reaction of pro-capitalists to John Paul II’s encyclical On Social Concern, six years later, but in this case he proposes that the sections of the encyclical that clash with his own interpretation of John Paul were the result of committee work and Roman Curial politics.
George Weigel thinks that some liberal virus has infected the encyclical.Weigel uses the same tactic in dealing with Pope Benedict’s new encyclical letter on charity, truth and social justice. But this time he is less gracious. With a conspiratorial tone worthy of Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, Weigel suggests in an article in The National Review online edition of July 7, subtitled “The Revenge of Justice and Peace (Or So They May Think),” that some liberal virus has infected the encyclical. We are advised to read it armed with a gold marker and a red marker. The gold should highlight those passages that are authentically Benedict’s (that is, they agree with Weigel); the red is for the passages inserted by
the pope’s evil peace-and-justice twin. Otherwise we are stuck with “an encyclical that resembles a duck-billed platypus.” The good Benedict is lucid and moving; the bad Benedict is “incomprehensible” and marked by “confused sentimentality.” Are these the passages that refer to world governance and the common good, the strategic importance of unions, the redistribution of wealth and governmental restraints on capitalism?
[Read the rest, here.]"