Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Popes John Paul II & Benedict XVI and the neocons

Stephen Hand, writing for Traditional Catholic Reflections and Reports, offers a cogent critique of Catholic neo-conservatives, like George Weigel, Michael Novak, and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. Hand deals with the refusal of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI to conform to contemporary political ideologies, like that of these neocons. Hand does so by dealing with the Iraq war, which Weigel inexplicably continues to defend and support, and on war and the application of force in general. Weigel has actually tried to show how pre-emptive war, about which then-Cardinal Ratzinger, after Novak's failed trip to Rome, that Hand chronicles, pointed out is not found in the Catechism, is consistent with Just War Theory. Needless to say, Weigel's effort was dead on arrival and justly ignored, though published in First Things, of which, for the purpose of full dislcosure, I am an avid reader.

Hand also shows that economically both popes explicitly reject the lasissez-faire model espoused by the neo-cons, with their consistent critiques of capitalism and Marxism, the most recent being Pope Benedict's statement to the bishops of Latin America.

While Hand's conclusion is rather sweeping and a bit over wrought, as it applies more to some of these neo-cons than to others (i.e., more to Novak than Weigel or Neuhaus, and more to Weigel than to Neuhaus), it is worth quoting: "The Catholic Church has thus disappointed Neoconservatives precisely because they wedded themselves to the present age. The Church transcends time-bound materialist political systems and its wars, opting rather in favor of just principles which foster the common good---which is far more than a materialist concept---and the dignity of the human person, who 'God so loved,' that he 'gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life'(Jn 3:16)."

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