Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The political church

A couple of days ago, a New York Times article on the recent troubles in the Vatican included the following --

The Vatican expert George Weigel, in a recent essay in First Things, an American religion journal, criticized the Vatican for its "chaos, confusion and incompetence."

"Expert" would be one description of Weigel. Here is today at National Review's The Corner, complaining about Nancy Pelosi (and apparently relying on an incomplete account of why her meeting with Benedict was in private) --

Charity requires that one concede the possibility that genuine piety was a part of Pelosi’s (rather boorish, and certainly irregular) insistence on being given a private moment with the pope during her current taxpayer-funded junket to Rome.

Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the US House of Representatives and therefore a top elected official of one of the co-equal branches of the US government. So what is the relevance of her trip to Rome being taxpayer funded? Weigel never complained about George Bush being on any junkets in Rome, and certainly didn't complain about the non-Catholic Bush getting his own private Benedict when he was in the Vatican.

The relevance is that Weigel assumes that the Catholic Church is only for Republicans. Here is showing more Catholic goodwill to Nancy --

But her office’s statement on today’s meeting makes it clear something else was afoot: that Pelosi, who shamelessly trumpets her “ardent” Catholicism while leading congressional Democrats in a continuing assault on what the Catholic Church regards as the inalienable human rights of the unborn, was trying to recruit Benedict XVI (“Joseph Ratzinger, D., Bavaria”?) to Team Nancy.

This from the person whose contribution to the Iraq war was to try and recruit John Paul and Benedict to Team Bush by arguing that the just war doctrine needed to be revised to fit it (more on Weigel and Iraq here).

The strange thing is that the source for his New York Times quote is actually a good description of how shambolic the Vatican was on one particular issue, that of the notorious Fr. Maciel. Did it ever occur to him that some of us have doubts about whether they can screw up other things upon which they sound can so dogmatic as well? Especially in the period after Benedict's apparent blindness to the moral stain of the Holocaust?

UPDATE: Welcome Daily Dish readers. And one thing to consider: Is Weigel's outrage about the way the Vatican handled Fr Maciel due to the intrinsic moral wrong, or the fact that it made the First Things crowd look deluded?

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