Weigel's Fatal Flaw

by Michael Sean Winters

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I admit that I did not notice at first the truly fatal flaw in George Weigel's - what else can we call it? - attack on the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and its new document on the world financial crisis. I was so aghast at the dismissive tone of his piece, referring to the Council as a "rather small office in the Vatican Curia" as if Cardinal Peter Turkson was some kind of errant child, an outlier run amok, that I missed it.

Until I read E.J. Dionne's column this morning. E.J. quoted that key line in Weigel's diatribe: "This brief document from the lower echelons of the Roman Curia no more aligns ‘the Vatican,’ the pope, or the Catholic Church with Occupy Wall Street than does the Nicene Creed."

Actually, of course, it is precisely the Nicene Creed that is at issue, even if few of the Wall Street protesters recognize it. The opening line of the Creed is, of course: "I believe in one God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth," Certainly those Wall Street occupiers who had the bright idea to build a golden calf and carry it to the protests understood that, at heart, the protests have something to do with the ascendancy of the false gods of Mammon. And, the rest of the Creed explains to we who profess it what are the central, core tenets of our belief. The theology of the Creed is the source of our Christian beliefs about ourselves. As the Second Vatican Council stated, "The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light." (GS, 22)

Mr. Weigel surely knows the text. It was the single paragraph of all the documents of Vatican II that Pope John Paul II cited more than any other. But, this is the side of John Paul II that Weigel never grasped, his theological anthropology, the radicalness of the Christian vision that is at the heart of Vatican II. Weigel was too busy working with his neo-con friends to get a few lines in praise of capitalism into Centesimus Annus to notice. As I mentioned Monday in my commentary of the new document, if you are looking for someone who understands that side of John Paul II, turn to David Schindler of the John Paul II Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family here in Washington. And, read what Schindler has to say about capitalism.

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