George Weigel: The Swan Song of the Catholic Neocons

George Weigel: The Swan Song of the Catholic Neocons

A Review of George Weigel’s “Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II”

Written by Dr. Jesse Russell, Ph.D. | Remnant Columnist

The notorious journalist and friend of Catholic traditionalist Patrick Buchanan, Hunter S. Thompson once wrote in his famous essay “The Hippies”: “The best year to be a hippie was 1965, but then there was not much to write about, because not much was happening in public and most of what was happening in private was illegal.”

A similar statement could be made of Catholic neoconservatives: the best year to be a Catholic neoconservative was 2001. September 11 had given the green light to the destruction of any country that stood in the way of the New World Order’s goal of global hegemony. With magazines like First Things and books such as Witness to Hope and The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, the very polite triumvirate of neoconservative leaders, Fr. Richard Neuhaus, George Weigel, and Michael Novak, had not only complete control over the American reception of John Paul II’s life and work, but increasing access to the White House of President George W. Bush.

Many bishops such as Charles Chaput, Francis George, and Timothy Dolan (whom Weigel refers to as an “old friend”) were the under the spell of Weigel, Neuhaus, and Novak. Even the lumbering, felt-banner-adorned battleship of old liberals called the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was turning toward the shores of the “new” Catholic conservativism born from Fr. John Courtney Murray and Jacques Maritain.

But then something happened. Like a Greek tragic hero, the Catholic neocons at the apex of their power, fell from grace.

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While most of Weigel’s books are a waste of time and tinted with the slime of modernism and thus should be passed over by traditional Catholics, Lessons in Hope is a very interesting chronicle of the John Paul II era in which, for many, there mushroomed great hope for restoration of Christian culture but then tragically fell. Despite George Weigel’s many obnoxious personality traits and his duplicitous role in getting Catholics to subscribe to political policies at odds with their faith, he emerges in Lessons in Hope as a sympathetic figure who climbed the latter of power and influence in and outside the Church only to be dethroned by the return of the Old Liberals whom he always treated with kid gloves as well as by the upsurge of the traditionalists whom he always despised.

However, the conservative brand of modernism that Weigel peddled has failed many Catholics. As traditionalists, we can offer a friendly hand to the conservative Catholics misled by Weigel who are only now coming to the bitter realization that Pope Francis is only one of a series of deeply flawed post-Vatican II popes.

[A very long and interesting article; read it all at ]

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One comment on “George Weigel: The Swan Song of the Catholic Neocons

  1. “Even the lumbering, felt-banner-adorned battleship of old liberals called the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops…”


    That takes me back to the original burlap. But you need puppets and a folk guitar group for a real Vatican II carnival.

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