This definition of Gnosticism, however, is utterly preposterous. This isn’t Gnosticism. On the contrary, Gnosticism was a many faceted heresy in the early Church, characterized by a dualistic cosmology wherein human souls are trapped in a material world that was created by the inferior god of the Old Testament. The Gnostic, through a process of mystical experiences, gained secret knowledge that would ultimately liberate his soul from the material world…
...And what of Kozinski’s definition? Well, if you think about it, his definition would have to include any person of faith. A man for example, who holds by faith that there is a God, indeed, has an irrefutable insight, for he holds it by faith, into a truth that relates to a matter of great import. What is more important than God? It is the same with every other truth that Holy Mother Church proposes for our belief by faith. His definition also would have to include anyone who believes anything. By Kozinski’s definition every religious person is a Gnostic.
In all fairness, a misapplication of the word recurs here, in an article by Christopher A. Ferrara, George Weigel and the People Who Know. I’m just as opposed to calling neo-conservatives like George Weigel Gnostics as I'm opposed to Thaddeus Kozinski calling traditional Catholics the same. Ferrara’s definition, like Kozinski’s, is woefully inadequate. Ferrara writes:
The gnostics of the early Christian era were, as the Catholic Encyclopedia puts it, “the people who knew,” the people who possessed the gnosis, an ineffable spiritual insight, inaccessible and incommunicable to others, which “constituted them a superior class of beings, whose present and future status was essentially different from that of those who, for whatever reason, did not know.”
The Catholic Encyclopedia also says a lot more, and in all fairness, Weigel and other neo-cons simply don’t fit the rest of the definition. While they are indeed an insufferable lot, their error isn’t Gnosticism, but something entirely different. Their error lies in a flawed understanding of the nature of Vatican II, and as such their error is completely unique and without historic precedent. The Second Vatican Council was a watershed event. Never before has there been an Ecumenical Council that was "pastoral" and not intended to be doctrinal or dogmatic. The very concept, itself, is questionable. For that reason, we can expect this kind of confusion, to a degree, but that's all the quarter I'm willing to give to the neo-cons.
That being said, there is much to Ferrara’s article that rings true, and it is well worth reading. Ferrara gets to the heart of the matter when he writes:
But Weigel is clearly worried that the Pope has instituted the Vatican-SSPX discussions on account of the very problem the conciliar illuminati do such a poor job of concealing. It is the problem identified by the former Cardinal Ratzinger when he was speaking to the Chilean bishops in 1988 about precisely the situation of the Society: that Vatican II has been treated as “an end of Tradition, a new start from zero,” when “[t]he truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of super-dogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.”
Those many include the insufferable Mr. Weigel and his collaborators in the project of protecting the conciliar gnosis from the dissolvent effects of forthright answers to simple questions—questions like those posed here, and no doubt being posed in the discussions the Pope has convoked. Hence Weigel dreads the discussions, for they threaten the very existence of his religion, which begins and ends with an illusory “reform of Catholic thought” when Teilhard was king of the theologians and men wore bell-bottom pants. Weigel, I believe, fears that the way things are going, the gnosis that constitutes his super-dogma could become as passé as the Sixties from which it emerged. The great progressive is afraid of progress in the Church. How sweetly ironic it is.
Neo-cons like Weigel refuse to heed the clear statements from the Magisterium that Vatican II taught nothing new. As Ferrara points out in the article, Weigel insists that Vatican II taught something new, which all Catholics must “accept”. The fact that this “something new” is necessarily ambiguous (that's because it really isn’t there, but in the neo-conservative interpretations) makes his ilk seem like people in the know, Gnostic in a way, granted. However, what it really is, is unparalleled intellectual arrogance coupled by being just plain wrong.