A few days back, we saw Michael Novak and Richard John Neuhaus, Bush's favorite Catholics, making a last ditch effort to defend the Iraq war, and a rather feeble one at that. Now is the turn of the third member of the triumvirate, George Weigel. In a First Things essay, Weigel still defends the Iraq war, despite tactical mistakes along the way. It is interesting that Weigel, Novak, and Neuhaus do not seem at all chastened, even when others who supported the war (including the New Republic) have since repented.
In an excellent editorial, Commonweal takes Weigel to task for a position he has held in the past, that the political authorities are in a better position to assess the "morality and wisdom of war" than the bishops, as these officials tend to be "more fully informed about the relevant facts". Thus the charism of political discernment! In his latest essay, though, Weigel is strangely silent on the "charism" argument. This is hardly surprising, given how disastrous the Bush administration has been, displaying the polar opposite of a political discernment charism. It would be funny if it were not so tragic. But the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways. The experience under the Bush administration has shown clearly that Weigel's argument is deeply flawed. It was the thin sheet he used to hide his ideological preferences behind some Catholic sounding catchphrases, and it has been abruptly whisked away, rendering him naked and rather unattractive at that.
Perhaps people should have listened to the bishops more closely then, as they should have listened to the last Pope Benedict during the first world war. As Commonweal puts it, "For a group that is supposed to lack the charism to make sound judgments about war and peace, the bishops have acquitted themselves far better than their critics." Indeed.