Some of Douthat’s mistakes appear trivial. He seems to think that Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis (1950) was responsible for the silencing of the Rev. John Courtney Murray, S.J., but it wasn’t. He writes of pre-Vatican II Catholicism that “the Church’s abundance of vocations meant that a life of vowed poverty occupied a place of honor in Catholic communities,” although most priests then, as now, were diocesan clergy who do not take a vow of poverty. Only priests, sisters, and brothers who belong to religious orders take vows of poverty, and many bishops built magnificent mansions for themselves in the pre-Vatican II days to demonstrate the Church’s increasing prominence. Douthat refers to “Baltimore’s Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle,” but O’Boyle never lived nor worked in Baltimore.
Other mistakes are more troubling. Douthat betrays the degree to which he has drunk the Kool-Aid being distributed by the papal biographer George Weigel, the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Novak, and other neoconservative interpreters of Catholicism. Douthat writes that “In the intervening decade Wojtyla [Pope John Paul II] had come to the same view of Christianity’s situation as had Novak and other American Catholic neoconservatives.” Alas, the view from the corner office at the Vatican is different from the corner office view at AEI. It was this same putatively neocon Pontiff who wrote in his encyclical Laborem Exercens, that “we must first of all recall a principle that has always been taught by the Church: the principle of the priority of labor over capital …
Who cares if it’s factually correct, though, it felt good writing it and it felt good for William Saletan to agree that his good friend Ross Douthat was a reasonable, thinking blah blah blah.
Somebody shoot me please.
The whole world’s a big game of Calvinball for the Douthats and Saletans of the world, whether they call themselves “secular liberals” or “devout Catholics”. You change the rules to fit what you enjoy saying and believing. Facts are for the little people.
If you unwashed haters like the Calvinball rules du jour, you’re an ill person who hates the world. But wait a few days, and the rules will change.