Obama’s Notre Dame speech tried to redefine U.S. Catholicism, George Weigel charges

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Weigel, writing in a Monday essay for National Review Online, said it was “surprising” and “disturbing” that President Obama decided to “insert himself” into “the ongoing Catholic debate over the boundaries of Catholic identity and the applicability of settled Catholic convention in the public square.” He said President Obama tried to settle “the decades-long intra-Catholic culture war” in favor of one faction: “the faction that had supported his candidacy and that had spent the first months of his administration defending his policies.”

In an exclusive comment to CNA, Weigel compared the effort to the historical phenomenon of “Gallicanism,” the French bishops’ past efforts to establish a church generally independent of papal authority.

“This is a very serious business, with the president of the United States putting himself in charge of the Gallican wing of the Catholic Church in the United States — the difference being that this new Gallicanism isn’t local bishops vs. Rome but intellectuals and their institutions and magazines vs. local bishops and Rome,” Weigel told CNA.

Weigel said that the “politically savvy” White House and its allies among Catholic progressive intellectuals may have intended to secure Obama’s political advantage among Catholic voters with his appearance at Notre Dame.

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