Versailles, Yalta, secularism & the pope


Commonweal’s piece by William D. Wood misrepresents what I said at the University of Chicago on April 30 (“Back to Christendom,” June 17). Mr. Wood places my words in a political context that isn’t mine and wasn’t referenced in what I said. A few examples will illustrate Wood’s caricature of my remarks.

Wood identifies me with President George W. Bush’s comments on the Yalta treaty, remarks I haven’t heard or read. The Yalta treaty was seen by Pope John Paul II and many in Eastern Europe as an agreement that bought peace for the West at the cost of Eastern Europe’s freedom. It doesn’t follow that this was the consequence intended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the time. Agreements have unintended consequences. John Paul II often said publicly that the consequences of the Yalta agreement had to be undone, and he lived to see them undone. Does that make him a 1952 Republican?

Wood has me implying “that the problem of secularization is best solved by making the political order itself less secular.” I neither implied that nor believe it. Except in officially atheistic states, secularization is a cultural phenomenon. In a free state with limited government, cultural tendencies work themselves out without...

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