The prominent Catholic theologian and columnist, George Weigel, visited Hungary last week among other countries, and besides giving a lecture in Parbeszed Haza (Budapest), he graciously accepted interview questions from the Katolikus Valasz blog too. Below is the full original language version of our conversation.
Katolikus Valasz (KV): Katolikus Valasz translated to Hungarian your article about paradigm shifts, in which you rightly say that currently Catholicism is broken due to the pastoral application of AL, and you highlight the importance of fraternal correction between bishops. Do you think that this can be resolved between bishops without the pope? If so what is the duty of all faithful bishops?
George Weigel (GW): I don't think Catholicism is "broken down;" I think there is considerable confusion in some parts of the Church, and that bishops being in close contact with each other to share concerns might help relieve that confusion -- or at least make clear how confusion in some parts of the Church makes the work of the New Evangelization more difficult in other parts of the Church.
I would also note that the living parts of the world Church are those that have embraced the teaching of John Paul II and Benedict XVI as the authentic interpretation of Vatican II are are using that teaching to advance the New Evangelization, while the dying parts of the Church are those that continue to try to make the failed project of "Catholic Lite" work. "Catholic Lite" empties the Church of evangelical and missionary energy.
KV: Simply hoping that the issue will be solved somehow, but keeping silence is still an option for bishops or we have passed that point in your opinion considering both AL and the intercommunion scandal?
GW: God is patient with the Church and we should be patient, too. But "being patient" doesn't mean doing nothing, It means teaching the truth, celebrating the liturgy beautifully, serving those in need, and getting on with the New Evangelization.
KV: What should lay faithful do if they are faced with the propaganda of this so called paradigm shift from their pastors or bishops?
GW: They should patiently explain to their pastors that the Catholic Church doesn't do "paradigm shifts", which, if you use the term properly, means a radical break from the past. What the Catholic Church does is "development of doctrine".
KV: As the biographer of JPII we would like to ask your clarification on a delcate matter. Some people are upset because JPII has supposedly kissed the Quran at some point. Did this really happen? What do you have to say to those who think this troublesome?
GW: John Paul II, visiting the Umayyid Grand Mosque of Damascus, wanted to shoe his respect for the piety of Muslims. There is some question as to how he did that, but that is what he intended to do. Anyone who wants to encounter John Paul II's thought on Islam and Muslims should read the appropriate sections of his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope.
KV: How would JPII see the current Vatican policy towards communist China in your view?
GW: I think he would be concerned that the old and failed Vatican Ostpolitik of the 1970s was being revived, and that the teaching of Vatican II and the 1983 Code of Canon law on not giving governments any role in the appointment of bishops was being forgotten. Giving any such role to the Chinese Communist Party, which is now responsible for religious communities in China, would be even worse.
KV: Do you have any prediction to the upcoming synods for the youth and Amazonas? Will those also be primary the tool of those promulgating the Catholic paradigm shift?
GW: I shall be in Rome in October 2018 and what I shall try to highlight there and then are those Catholic youth ministries, campus ministries, and seminary formation programs that are actually producing missionary disciples. Al of those programs embrace Catholicism-in-full. That is the best answer to those who will be proposing "Catholic Lite."
I've no idea what will happen at the Synod on Amazonia, but the notion that Amazonia is a Catholic territory being deprived of the Eucharist by a lack of priests strikes me as a little strange; I should think that Amazonia is mission territory badly in need of evangelization by missionaries, including priests, consecrated religious, and laity.