Weigel or Wills

Commentary magazine, published by the American Jewish Committee, rarely takes direct notice of developments or events in the Catholic world. Catholic-Jewish relations, or examinations of the church’s troubled history of anti-Semitism and arguments about the church’s alleged complicity in the Holocaust, are understandable exceptions. But intramural church arguments do not usually warrant space.

Exceptional times deserve exceptional treatment, however. The February Commentary features an article, titled (what else?) "The Catholic Crisis," by one Daniel Johnson, an associate editor of the London Daily Telegraph who identifies himself as a cradle Catholic. Johnson’s ostensible topic is the sexual-abuse crisis gripping the American church, but he ranges far and wide, from debates about the reception of Vatican II to John Paul II’s dramatic gestures of apology and reconciliation toward Jews. At the heart of the article is a comparison between George Weigel and Garry Wills as Catholic intellectuals representative of two competing factions within the church. Johnson even goes so far as to categorize people as either "Weigel Catholics" or "Wills Catholics." Johnson seems blissfully unaware that the views of the vast majority of American Catholics land in the middle ground between both Weigel and Wills. His readers will remain unaware of that fact as well.

Where Johnson lands is no secret. Wills is pointedly a "...

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