At First Things, George Weigel has decided that what America really needs is a return to authentic Catholic social teaching (he has also decided that the voters have made a colossal mistake, but we could have guessed that):
It’s become a cliché to say that “no candidate and no party fully embraces the vision of Catholic social doctrine.” True enough. But previous election cycles gave Catholic voters a prudential choice between candidates who embodied at least some of the major themes of the social doctrine. What is the thoughtful Catholic voter to do when neither of the presidential candidates is even minimally committed to human dignity, the common good, subsidiarity, and solidarity, as the social doctrine understands those concepts? When one party has elevated lifestyle libertinism to the first of constitutional principles (and is prepared to kill unborn children, jettison free speech, and traduce religious freedom in service to hedonism), while the other is prepared to nominate a fantasist who spun grotesque fairy tales about an alleged connection between an opponent’s family and Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before he closed the deal?
(Emphasis supplied.) However, Weigel’s point would be more interesting, we suppose, if we were not pretty sure that by “Catholic social doctrine,” Weigel means, more or less, pre-Trump Republican orthodoxy.
Remember Weigel’s March statement against Trump in National Review (co-written by Robert George and co-signed by all the best Catholic Republicans)? The one where he said:
In recent decades, the Republican party has been a vehicle — imperfect, like all human institutions, but serviceable — for promoting causes at the center of Catholic social concern in the United States: (1) providing legal protection for unborn children, the physically disabled and cognitively handicapped, the frail elderly, and other victims of what Saint John Paul II branded “the culture of death”; (2) defending religious freedom in the face of unprecedented assaults by officials at every level of government who have made themselves the enemies of conscience; (3) rebuilding our marriage culture, based on a sound understanding of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and (4) re-establishing constitutional and limited government, according to the core Catholic social-ethical principle of subsidiarity. There have been frustrations along the way, to be sure; no political party perfectly embodies Catholic social doctrine. But there have also been successes, and at the beginning of the current presidential electoral cycle, it seemed possible that further progress in defending and advancing these noble causes was possible through the instrument of the Republican party.
That possibility is now in grave danger. And so are those causes.
(Emphasis supplied.) We pause, of course, to note that religious freedom and subsidiarity-as-limited-government are perhaps not the most traditional causes at the center of Catholic social concern, not least because, well, religious freedom remains a live controversy and John Paul’s notion of subsidiarity departed in some interesting ways from Leo XIII’s and Pius XI’s. But those are discussions we have had elsewhere. The point is that Weigel plainly identifies Catholic social teaching with policies that are entirely consonant and compatible with mainstream Republican orthodoxy.
Our question (comment?) is this: what if Catholic social teaching is not entirely consonant and compatible with mainstream Republican orthodoxy? What if it’s not even a little compatible?
Then Weigel (and the other neocon, neo-Cath thought leaders) are in real trouble.