Prominent Vatican reporter John Allen has published a piece in the National Catholic Reporter following the papal visit to Cuba entitled “ Benedict XVI and the Lament of the Hawks ,” about a supposed lack of conservative confidence in Benedict, which cites my recent piece for First Things , “ Has the Church Gone Soft on Communism? ”—but, I fear, misleadingly. I admire Mr. Allen’s work in large measure, and appreciate the citation, but think he missed the mark on this one.

My piece was not a “lament,” but essentially a defense of Pope Benedict (as was my brief follow-up here ) against just the type of over-the-top criticisms cited elsewhere in Allen’s article, even as I raised one respectful question about the pope’s prudential decision not to meet with leading dissidents—a legitimate, good-faith debate among sincere Catholics.

As for the Church’s social justice views—Allen mentions conservative criticism of Caritas in Veritate (while overlooking the many conservatives who applauded it)—I wrote two separate columns for the Times of London online a) praising the essentials of that specific encyclical , and Benedict’s economic and social justice teachings in general; and b) saluting Archbishop Oscar Romero , who I believe will one day be declared a saint, precisely as a champion of Catholic social justice.

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