Tuesday, November 19, 2002

George Weigel: Dissenter?

In today's Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan applauds George Weigel's recent explanation of how a possible war with Iraq is consistent with just war theory. But Sullivan then notes that Weigel's stance is in opposition to that of the US Bishops Conference, as well as the Vatican, which have both questioned the morality of such a war. Sullivan sees Weigel thus dissenting from church teaching, while upholding the teaching authority of the Church on such issues as a celibate priesthood, which as "no deep moral meaning".

Two things. First, the fact that Sullivan doesn't realize the profound significance and meaning of celibacy is itself an indication of why he doesn't see it as important.

Second, Weigel is not hypocritical here. He may be wrong (althought I don't think that's the case), but he's not hypocritical. Why? Because in the case of just war theory and war in Iraq, we're talking about the application of moral principles to a specific case, and it is possible for good people to differ on how those principles are applied. As long as no principle is violated, one can hold an opinion different from others. But not every church issue is like this: in other cases, there is no general principle which is applied to a concrete circumstance. In these cases, the Church's say is final.

[Oops: just saw that Mark Shea dealt with Sullivan's comments here, and in a much more thorough fashion than I did. But, I'm happy to see, our posts both converge along the same line of argumentation.]

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