In a recent article for First Things, George Weigel provided excellent insights into the neo-conservative Catholic mind as he bemoaned the allegedly soon-to-occur regularization of the Society of St. Pius X; claiming that doing so “would immeasurably damage the New Evangelization.”
From his lips to God’s ears!
At this, let’s review some of the highlights of Professor Weigel’s masterclass on neo-conservatism.
Lesson #1: Neo-conservatism leads to a darkened intellect
George Weigel looks at the half-a-century old “New Evangelization” – with its empty seminaries, bankrupt dioceses, and pastorless parishes – and insists that the good times must be allowed to roll on!
How is it that an otherwise intelligent man cannot see that this little experiment known as the “New Evangelization” has been a massive failure on every conceivable front?
The answer is simple; his view is informed almost exclusively, not by a sensus Catholicus, but rather by a sensus concilius, and make no mistake, they are as different as night and day – the former being founded in truth; the latter on a series of cleverly disguised lies published on official Vatican II letterhead.
The result of having accepted the conciliar deception is a darkened intellect that is no longer capable of recognizing things as they are; to the point where that which is poisonous appears good for food. (Sound familiar?)
Lesson #2: Neo-conservatism requires hypocrisy
Weigel’s article demonstrates, far better than any so-called “traditionalist” ever could, just how confused, conflicted and inconsistent “conciliarists” such as himself truly are.
“Helping those who have broken away from the Catholic Church come back into full communion is a noble endeavor.”
Right, as if the idea of “partial communion” is anything other than a conciliar invention that grew directly out of the ecumaniacal fervor that inspired the entire affair.
“But such reconciliations cannot be conducted as if they were the ecclesiastical equivalent of labor negotiations: You give a bit here, we’ll give a bit there. For the only Church unity worthy of the name is unity within the full symphony of Catholic truth.”
Oh, this is rich!
Apparently it hasn’t occurred to Weigel that the text of Vatican Council II that he treats as holy writ is precisely the product of just such negotiations.
As Cardinal Walter “the serene theologian” Kasper acknowledged:
“In many places, [the Council Fathers] had to find compromise formulas, in which, often, the positions of the majority are located immediately next to those of the minority, designed to delimit them. Thus, the conciliar texts themselves have a huge potential for conflict, open the door to a selective reception in either direction.” (L’Osservatore Romano, April 12, 2013)
Maybe I missed it, but I’m unaware of Weigel ever criticizing the conciliar text for its failure to present “the full symphony of Catholic truth” without compromise.
Lesson #3: Neo-conservatism has a “rigidity” problem of its own
Far from criticizing the conciliar text, Weigel is undeterred in his support of it, writing:
“While the Lefebvrists’ complaints about the post-Vatican II liturgy are often thought to be at the heart of their schism, the more fundamental break-points involve the Council’s teaching on the fundamental human right of religious freedom and the Council’s embrace of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue—including the conciliar affirmation that there are elements of truth and holiness in other Christian communities, and indeed in non-Christian faiths.”
Here, Weigel shows just how “old school” he really is; insisting that the SSPX is in schism even as those in Rome no longer do so. (This, I suppose, is what passes for “tradition” in “New Evangelization” circles.)
What’s more, Weigel knows that he is out of step with the Rome of today, and this is the cause of his angst.
“Now, according to Archbishop Guido Pozzo, a senior Vatican official involved in discussions with the Lefebvrists, it may be possible to heal the breach Archbishop Lefebvre created by conceding that the teachings of Vatican II do not all have the same doctrinal weight.
On this scenario, the Lefebvrists would be given a pass on the Council’s affirmation of religious freedom, ecumenism, and interreligious dialogue, and would return to full communion through the mechanism of a “personal prelature,” the same structure that governs Opus Dei.
This is a very, very bad idea.”
How did George Weigel – famed biographer and spiritual son of John Paul the Great Ecumenist whose pontificate “struck deep roots in the previously unknown, utterly new, awareness of the Church that came about thanks to the Second Vatican Council” (cf Redemptor Hominis 3) – end up at odds with the current Captains of Newchurch?
In truth, tension between successive generations of neo-conservative coniliarists was inevitable from day one.
You see, the conciliar religion is essentially another Protestant sect (albeit a unique one), and a fundamental hallmark of Protestantism is that its positions constantly evolve; at times, leaving certain of their members behind to either pine away for the good ol’ days or to form yet another branch.
George Weigel belongs to what we might call the “rigid” neo-conservative branch; the members of which consider the text of the Council to be tantamount to non-negotiable dogmatic formulae, which brings us to the good professor’s next revelation.
Lesson #4: Neo-conservatism treats the entirety of Vatican II as dogmatic
While they are wont, in their criticism of progressives, to repeat after Cardinal Ratzinger who denounced those who would treat the Council as a “super-dogma,” this is precisely what they themselves do.
“Vatican II did indeed speak of a ‘hierarchy of truths’ within the one Catholic and apostolic faith. But that does not mean that some of what the Council taught is more-or-less true (which would mean that some of Vatican II is more-or-less false, or at least more-or-less dubious).”
As anyone whose roots run deeper than the 1960’s knows (i.e., those who embrace the “Faith that comes to us from the Apostles” as opposed to the “Playbook that comes to us from the Council”), some of Vatican II is indeed more-or-less false!
For the Weigels of the world, however, there simply is no way whatsoever that Vatican II taught anything that is demonstrably false, and this in spite of their willingness to repeat after the popes (again, in their criticism of progressives) that the Council was not an infallible exercise; choosing as it did to refrain from defining doctrine and remaining merely pastoral.
Weigel explains the neo-conservative position thus:
“To speak of a ‘hierarchy of truths’ simply means that some of the truths the Catholic Church teaches are closer to the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ crucified and risen than are other truths the Church teaches.
The Church teaches the truth of the Virgin Birth and the truth of Mary’s Immaculate Conception; both doctrines are true, but the Virgin Birth is closer to the Paschal Mystery than is the Immaculate Conception.
Similarly, Vatican II taught that divine revelation is real and that religious freedom is a fundamental human right. The reality of divine revelation is a truth closer to the center of the faith than is the truth that religious freedom is a right of persons that should be recognized in law; but both are true.”
NB: “Religious freedom” as proposed by the Council can be likened to the Immaculate Conception as solemnly declared, pronounced, and defined ex cathedra by Pope Pius IX!
Thank you, Professor Weigel, for this stunning admission!
Even if only inadvertently, he is telling us that neo-conservatism is built upon the belief that everything in the conciliar text is tantamount to non-negotiable dogmatic formulae.
Sure, some if it is “closer to the Paschal Mystery,” but at the end of the day, it’s all dogma.
Lesson #5: Neo-conservatism is on the ecumenical train to nowhere
Professor Weigel has already established for us that the neo-conservative considers the Council’s treatment of religious liberty in Dignitatis Humanae to be similar in doctrinal weight to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception as defined in Ineffabilis Deus.
If that isn’t reason enough to be grateful for his candor, Weigel went on to admit that he and his ilk also rank the Council’s treatment of ecumenism in Unitatis Redintegratio right up there as well!
“To restore SSPX clergy to full communion with Rome while letting them cross their fingers behind their backs on religious freedom (and ecumenism) when they make the profession of faith and take the oath of fidelity would, by a bizarre ultra-traditionalist route, enshrine a ‘right to dissent’ within the Church. And that would make for shipwreck.”
I suspect that if pressed, Weigel would seek to downplay the idea that the conciliar text on religious liberty and ecumenism admits of no more doubt than the infallibly defined dogma of the Immaculate Conception, but he wrote what he wrote for a reason:
It is this view of Vatican II that lies at the very heart of neo-conservatism.
For good measure, Weigel even graciously offered yet another analogy that should help us, his students, come to understand the essence of neo-conservatism:
“Such a ‘right’ of ‘faithful dissent’ has long been claimed by Catholic progressives, not least with respect to Humanae Vitae, Paul VI’s encyclical on the appropriate means of regulating fertility, and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, John Paul II’s apostolic letter reaffirming that the Church’s authority to ordain extends only to men.”
As far as the esteemed Professor of Catholic Neo-Conservatism is concerned, the conciliar novelties concerning religious liberty and ecumenism can no more be opposed by a faithful Catholic than the Church’s inability to ordain women to the priesthood.
In other words, he’s letting us know that he and his kind believe that “traditionalists” (aka Catholics) who take seriously the doctrines of the faith as consistently proposed by popes and councils past, over the course of many centuries, are no better than a bunch of lesbians in clerical Halloween consumes!
My friends, we all owe a debt of gratitude (if not tuition) to George Weigel for teaching us everything we need to know about the true nature of Catholic neo-conservatism:
It’s unrealistic, hypocritical, rigid, dogmatic and ecumenical.
Oh, yeah, and ultimately Protestant.