A Response to George Weigel

by Michael Hichborn  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  August 23, 2018   

His tone-deaf commentary minimizes outrage of faithful Catholics at clerical sex abuse cover-up

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This morning, a friend of mine sent me a link to George Weigel's piece concerning the crisis of predatory homosexuals within the Catholic Church, which he wrote for First Things. (For the sake of full disclosure, I'm not a fan of Weigel's and believe First Things has declined in quality since the death of Fr. Richard Neuhaus.)

In his article, titled "Fackenheim's Law and the Current Catholic Crisis," Weigel downplays the severity of the crisis by suggesting that "good bishops" allow the laity to assist them in calling "their less-than-effective or less-than-honest brother-bishops to their duty when necessary." I don't know if Weigel has simply not read the details of the accusations leveled at Abp. McCarrick or the horrific abuses that were covered up by bishops in Pennsylvania, but it is disingenuous to the point of intellectual dishonesty to refer to "less-than-effective" and "less-than-honest" bishops who were responsible for these and other cover-ups.

Cardinal Wuerl, for instance, not only actively assisted in covering up several cases of abuse in Pittsburgh, but he has done nothing but lie about it to the public ever since. He even hired a law firm that specializes in reputation repair for $50,000–$75,000 per month (at the expense of the archdiocese, of course), before the Pennsylvania grand jury report was published, in order to obfuscate his involvement. Is Weigel really going to stand by Cdl. Wuerl's pay-for-silence cover-up of an abusive priest who went off to Cuba, suggesting that Wuerl was merely "less-than-effective"? Is Weigel honestly going to suggest that Wuerl's hiring of a PR firm merely renders him "less-than-honest?"

But that's just Cdl. Wuerl. The Pennsylvania grand jury report covered only six dioceses and identified a systemic pattern of cover-up among the bishops there. Given Abp. McCarrick's abuses in Newark and Metuchen (where Abp. Myers and Bishop Bootkowski paid off McCarrick's victims), it's pretty clear that the cone of silence extended to there as well. And now, details are flooding in from all over the country from priests, former seminarians and victims of sex abuse.

But lofty-tower academics like Weigel don't like to get too bogged down with pesky things like details when he can paint everyone he disagrees with as "shrill-voiced," "click-bait" Catholics. At the end of his column, Weigel wrote:

Responding responsibly to today's crisis also means not fouling our own nest by denying all the good things that are underway in U.S. Catholicism, the living parts of which have embraced the New Evangelization and rejected Catholic Lite as an evangelical strategy. Shrill voices venting ideological spleen by decrying the entire American Catholic scene are demoralizing; they may unwittingly give the Evil One cheap victories. Truly righteous anger is focused anger, not online click-bait.

For those who may not be familiar, this is the definition of "click-bait": "content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page."

Click-bait is a psychologically designed ad intended to attract viewers with titillating headlines like "You won't believe what she said after they took her picture!"

Here's a challenge for you, George: Produce just one Catholic-produced, click-bait, shrill-voiced article on this crisis.

Clearly, articles providing the breaking news details of sex abuse, scandalous cover-ups and lies heaped upon the faithful by the prelates they should be able to trust are not click-bait.

Here's a challenge for you, George: Produce just one Catholic-produced, click-bait, shrill-voiced article on this crisis.

By denigrating the important reporting being conducted by Catholic organizations like Church Militant, Complicit Clergy, LifeSiteNews, Regina Magazine, Mike Church, the Lepanto Institute, OnePeterFive and others, George Weigel is not only smearing the accurate reporting by those deeply concerned with what is happening in our Church, but he directly assaults and revictimizes the victims mentioned in these reports.


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