George Weigel, Ten Years Past Turning Point

I think George Weigel and Joe Biden are something of peas in a pod. The Vice-President is prone to vocal gaffes I suppose. Though I don’t have any first-hand experience of them. Mr Weigel, on the other hand, seems to have any number of published thoughts. And some of these seem to be gaffe material. I didn’t think much of his recent essay scolding non-Republicans and singling out the VP like he was some sort of political or Catholic leader. Let’s keep in mind that we are talking about the office of Vice President.

That said, we’ve reached a cultural armageddon of sorts:

Whatever happens on November 6, though, the Catholic Church in America has been changed, likely in irreversible ways, by the experience of this campaign year.

A critical mass of U.S. bishops now understands the challenge of this cultural moment, and these bishops are prepared to exercise their pastoral office in the prophetic way that the challenge of the culture requires.

The 2012 Election is far from being any sort of turning point for bishops, laity, or politicians (Catholic or otherwise). It strikes me as more a year of stay-the-course, only row faster.

When I read some of the conservative essayists this year, I get the idea they’re just trying their best to muster enthusiasm for a not-Obama in the White House. Not everyone seems to be buying it. They’re tired. We know it. They know it.

The real tipping point for the Church was 2002, not 2012. The “critical mass of bishops” has largely missed the message. Many conservatives get their marching orders from the internet. Some of the content arrives from globe-trotting bishops like Burke, Dolan, and Chaput who give speeches and write books and investigate other Catholics–even fellow bishops. But bishops largely don’t have the staying power to generate regular daily enthusiasm like many internet Catholics want. And some conservatives are deeply burned by bishops of their own tribe who have repeatedly offended, sometimes criminally, by mishandling sex abusers.

If there is a critical mass of bishops, they seem to have broken themselves off from the main body of the Church and are off leading who-knows-who who-knows-where. Liberals and conservatives alike practice varying degrees of cafeteria Catholicism. And it’s all fair game: sex, economics, war, education, and even Vatican II. Everybody has their spin. And there are enough bishops these days for an “orthodox” Catholic to find whatever authoritarian voice most conforms to one’s personal Gospel. Then shelter under a particular flag on a particular hill.

There may be more stuff comment-worthy in Mr Weigel’s piece. I have a harder time seeing this guy as a serious intellectual. Mr Biden and Ms Pelosi and Mr Ryan as Catholic leaders? Please. Give me saintly examples of Catholics who live real lives of service. Fewer politicians. Fewer globe-trotting bishops.

I leave it to my Election Day pundits in the commentariat to have at Mr Weigel. Don’t forget to vote.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to George Weigel, Ten Years Past Turning Point

  1. Jimmy Mac says:

    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” (John Kenneth Galbraith)

    “A progressive is someone who keeps making the same mistake, while a conservative is someone who prevents a mistake from ever being corrected.” (G. K. Chesterton)

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