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so where is weigel wrong?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 26, 2008

About a month ago, George Weigel made public some reasons to think the new Jesuit General over-estimated the Society's deference to the Holy See. This provoked a heated and defensive reaction on the part of certain Jesuits, obliging Weigel to repeat, for the benefit of the offended parties, a lesson usually learned between one's thirteenth and seventeenth birthday: the truth that criticism -- even wounding criticism -- is not always a product of ill will.

What baffles your Uncle Di is that the Jesuits who castigate Weigel don't make clear why he was wrong to make reference to Partial Birth Abortion and "Pretty Boy & Jabba the Slut" and the rest. Is Weigel to be faulted because the Society denounces the Drinan legacy and gay campiness -- and he slanderously suggested the opposite? Or is Weigel to be faulted because the Society embraces the Drinan legacy and gay gamesmanship -- and he slanderously suggested this to be a departure from the Ignatian ideal? Even if Weigel's a villain, these villainies can't both be true of him.

Let's flip back a couple years to examine another prominent journalist who slipped into criticism of the Society. This is Andrew Sullivan, from his Daily Dish post of 10 July 2005. Diametrically opposed to Weigel's ecclesial perspective, Sullivan is exercised by the upcoming Doomsday Doc forbidding the acceptance of homosexual seminarians. He's in a lather about the bigoted Pope Benedict and indulges in some coloratura hyperbole:

Not since the Jesuits' ban on ethnic Jews, regardless of their conversion or Christian faith, has the Church entertained such pure discrimination. The insult to gay Catholics is, of course, immeasurable. It is also an outrageous attack on the good, great and holy work so many gay men and lesbians have performed in the Church from its very beginnings.

Later in the same post, Sullivan hastily reassures his readers that he intended no criticism of the contemporary Society of Jesus:

I don't think any reader of this blog would remember me having anything but respect for the Jesuits. In this country, they are becoming the underground resistance that will keep the decent church alive while Benedict spreads his brittle reactionaryism.

Sullivan is praising the Society for the very recalcitrance the Jesuit General emphatically denies, right? So was there an outpouring of white-hot Jesuit indignation protesting Sullivan's claim that the Jesuits comprise "the underground resistance" to the Pope? If so, most of us certainly missed it.

Well, lads, what about it? Are you critics of Weigel's libelous charge of Jesuit disloyalty willing to trash Sullivan for his? If not, the rest of us will continue to believe that it was Weigel who had it right in the first place. And if we’re wrong in this, it would be a kindness to point out our mistake. [tip to Karen Hall]

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  • Posted by: - Mar. 28, 2008 1:34 AM ET USA

    Since Bill Clinton went to Georgetown, it seems likelier that he learned some of his skills in equivocation from the Jesuits rather than vice versa.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 27, 2008 5:04 PM ET USA

    Theres no help for this lot save complete suppression, followed by complete re-engineering with a whole different group of brand-new jesuits. The decay is too deep and scarred for any practical redemption of the current crew. The Holy Fathers shock troops? Modernism and relativism have spoiled the order. The whole lot should be cashiered.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 27, 2008 1:47 PM ET USA

    In all probability, some Jesuits are playing an equivical game with logic and reason. The kind of toying with the truth that they play with the notion of obedience is something they might have learned from Bill Clinton. Splitting hairs does not even account for it. Philosophical quibbling does not excuse their position. The lack of humble submission to the vicar of Christ by some Jesuits is deplorable. If their Father General does not see it, they are in more trouble than they can imagine.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 26, 2008 4:08 PM ET USA

    No he is not. I have in my grubby mitts the unofficial GC 35 documents. My first impression is that the General Congregation fathers are trying to do the impossible: recreate unity and fidelity without metaphysical realism. The first problem is epistemological relativism. There may be a percentage of Jesuits who are not relativist but a goodly portion are. How can one then draft a company document that has intellectual heft if the best one can hope for is internal consistency.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 26, 2008 3:39 PM ET USA

    ...thinking that, yes, Weigel had it right in the first place...and that Mr. Weigel would make a good cardinal...