Let's wait 5-10 years and see who's right, Weigel or Diogenes. If Benedict XVI proves to take his role as administrator of the church, or primus inter pares, more seriously than did his predecessor, it is fair to assume that Weigel will win the wager. If not, Diogenes will win, but all believing Catholics will lose.Diogenes remarks that he would be happy to report that Weigel was right and "your Uncle Di" was wrong, but that in light of the worldwide torrent of criticism directed recently against the Pope -- much of it from Catholic quarters -- he wonders.
What follows in Diogenes' column is the original article he wrote in 2005, completely unaltered. Here are some excerpts:
In a syndicated column that appeared in Catholic diocesan newspapers late in April, George Weigel argued that Cardinal Ratzinger's election as Pope Benedict XVI signified the twilight of Catholic progressivism. As he put it:Diogenes asks us to remember how progressivists have taken over most theology departments, some seminaries, some diocesan religious education offices, as well as some religious congregations; and how they have used the "shibboleth issues" of contraception, women's ordination, gay rights, PC language, etc., to hire and promote ideological allies and torpedo others. While Weigel is correct in declaring that progressivists have failed to carry the day and that their religious minimalism has much to do with their failure, says Diogenes, most of us probably know seminarians or grad students or lay volunteers who, because of their orthodoxy, found themselves unemployed before realizing what hit them.It was expected that the Catholic Church would, indeed must, take the path of accommodation: that has been the central assumption of what's typically called "progressive" Catholicism. That assumption has now been decisively and definitively refuted. The "progressive" project is over -- not because its intentions were malign, but because it posed an ultimately boring question: how little can I believe, and how little can I do, and still remain Catholic?I am not as sanguine as Weigel regarding the intentions of progressivists. After all, they haven't been low-profile church mice quietly pleading for a live-and-let-live Catholicism. While the now-comic 1960s culture of flowers and folk music may incline us to view them as harmless sentimentalists, they were and are revolutionaries, out to replace their old order with a new one of their own devising.
For the same reasons I do not expect progressivists to shrug and gracefully fade off the scene. What is at stake is not a failed literary review, but the meaning of their entire life. In the Bolshevik revolution, the young firebrands of 1910 did not cede authority to the young firebrands of 1980; once having seized power, they couldn't relinquish it, and kept a white-knuckle grip on the Party until it was loosened by clogged arteries. So too in the post-conciliar Catholic putsch, the angry young mustangs of 1968 became the angry middle-ages mustangs of 1988, who became the angry old mustangs of today....Diogenes also notes that mainstream Catholic liberals "have blood on their hands" by dint of their complicity to a woman's right to an abortion since Roe v. Wade in 1973, a temptation hard to resist after casting their lot with contraception after Humanae Vitae in 1968. The aggravating thing, of course, was how this flatly contradicted their professed concern for the voiceless, which is why they detest so deeply any mention of abortion, which "reminds them of their betrayal of the sole element of nobility in their progressivist project."
"Weak men are apt to be cruel," said Lord Halifax, "because they stick at nothing that may repair the ill effect of their mistakes." The ad hoc acts of injustice perpetrated in seminaries and theology departments -- rejections, firings, demotions -- were for the most part tactical cruelties necessitated by the dynamics of revolution: with 40 million casualties behind you, there's no stopping, and there's no going back.[Acknowledgement: excerpts from Diogenes, "The Reckoning -- Reconsidered," Catholic World Report (June 2010), p. 48.]