How Not To Read A Papal Encyclical

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The overarching flaw of the neocons is arrogance.  It was arrogance that led them to believe that we could remake the Mideast when we invaded Iraq.  It was arrogance that led Catholic neocons to lecture John Paul II on Catholic just-war teaching as they lobbied the Vatican to endorse our disastrous invasion of Iraq.  And George Weigel displayed a comparable arrogance when he penned a reaction to Benedict XVI’s social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, the same day it was released, claiming that the passages he agreed with were “obviously” written by Benedict, while those he disagreed with were just as clearly written by unnamed Vatican bureaucrats.  Although Weigel is a papal biographer, he seems to think he is a pope, possessed of his own personal Magisterium.  It is one thing for a Catholic, after serious reflection, to respectfully disagree with a noninfallible papal teaching; it is another to flippantly dismiss an encyclical as a “duck-billed platypus” and “the warbling of an untuned piccolo” less than 24 hours after reading it.

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