Friday, August 1, 2008
Personal Aside: Catholic Bishops Prepare to Finesse Election Issue of Abortion as McCarrick Plays His Hand.
In the view of a noted authenticist expert on Catholic bishops I talked with in confidence yesterday, the outline of the U. S. Catholic bishops proposed document Forming Consciences of Faithful Citizenship bears the imprint of the finely manicured and perfumed hand of one who has long been regarded as the most prominent liberal of the U.S. episcopate.
When he said that to me, I knew right away who he meant.
He was speaking of one who is not even an active archbishop but is retiredTheodore Cardinal McCarrick the former archbishop of Washington, D. C.
Liberal Democrat McCarrick continues to be dominant in political affairs in a church where faithful congregants are center-right but who by force of his personality has given the USCCB (the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) a distinctively left-wing cast. Powerful as he is, he is not an officer of the USCCB (the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), is one of a number with similar interests although his ecclesial prominence is recognized.
At a point where the USCCB is as rudderless as it has been for many years and with the certainty that the next president-to-be was a distinct failure at Mundelein seminary after which he was promoted and who has said if he had to do it over again hed still ordain Dan McCormack the convicted pervert liberal Democrat McCarrick has been overwhelming in his influence as the hierarchys major proponent of neutering the importance of a single-issue in recommended voting instructions. Consequently, he has been warmly received and lionized by leading Democratic pro-abort Catholics and liberal Catholics in the media for his cooperation in sparing them embarrassment and possible retribution by Catholic voters at the polls. He is particularly the recipient of hearty support from the Kennedy family and is ever-present where liberal Catholic media types gather to discuss theological issues, pleasing them by salving their views with absolution from the Left. Small wonder he offered the funeral Mass for Tim Russert who got Dan Moynihan and Mario Cuomo to be pro-aborts.
Wednesday the outline was unveiled by an underling, the Rev. Ronald J. Cioffi in a relatively obscure diocese, Trenton, N. J. The proposed outline was unfurled was drafted with major input from McCarrick as a kind of initial test case to feel out the position of the hierarchy in the presidential election year.
According to the Times of Trenton pro-abortion and pro-gay rights which are no-nos and earlier occupied in some drafts more significant standing than other issues, are enveloped in a laundry-list of church moral issues which voters should consider. This validates the position McCarrick has always held which protects pro-abortion lawmakers and governors. The issue of whether or not a pro-abort Catholic politician who crusades for abortion receiving Communion is thus negated something he has always advocated.
The document pays lip service to abortion as an intrinsic evil equal to racism but would have the bishops say a Catholic may vote for an abortion rights supporter such as Barack Obama who from his Illinois legislature days is the only Democratic U.S. senator on record as opposing any methods to use nutrition or medical care to save the life of a baby born live from a botched abortion. As such it is a great coup for Obama and the Democratic party including the top-heavy Democratic party of Cook county where all Catholic office-holders have capitulated to becoming abortion supporters.
There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidates unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave issues, the document states in language that sounds like it was written expressly by McCarrick. For the 800,000 Catholics in the Trenton diocese and answer is they should weigh their consciences while the bishops take the Pontius Pilate approach and wash their hands of responsibility. It is hard to find a candidate who supports all the churchs teaching, said wimpy Trenton Bishop John M. Smith a McCarrick man to his staff. Its a difficult time to decide how were voting, especially this year. It reflects the McCarrick view entirely.
Said Rayanne Bennett, chief communications officer for the Trenton diocese to the Times of Trenton: For those who want to be told what tpo dothis document does not tell them. The reason this is important is no candidate this year and few candidates historically have perfectly lined up with Catholic social teaching. Thus why sweat it?
Were not interested in creating the United Catholic States of America, said Cioffi, echoing words which have been used in different places and at different times by McCarrick. A single issue like abortion or war should not be the sole reason to vote for or against a candidate, he said, adding, As Catholics, we are not single-issue voters. No mention was made of the fact that without social issues such as abortion and homosexuality being considered, Catholics have been heavily Democratic.
Assuredly the document inveighs against abortion in boilerplate but exceeds even the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardins seamless garment which tied three issues togethernuclear freeze, anti-death penalty and abortionto give liberal office holders a pro-life rating of 2 out of 3. This document far exceeds the Bernardin one by for all practical purposes allowing everyone to decide for themselves. That way, given the natural proclivity of Catholics to vote Democratic, it is an odds-on benefit for the Democratic party and Barack Obama, known to be highly favored by McCarrick who has met with Obama although the president of the USCCBthe cardinal-archbishop of Chicago from Illinois like Obamahas until recently pointedly declined to meet with Sen. John McCain so as not to show favoritism to the Republican.
Why did the draft on how Catholics should regard voting their consciences get unveiled in of all places Trenton, New Jersey? The present Cardinal archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl, a McCarrick man who lip-synchs the boss has influence there. But principally the reason was McCarrick himself was once archbishop of Newark. Although in retirement, having had his resignation accepted by Benedict XVI on May 16, 2006 when McCarrick turned 75, McCarrick told the media on the day Wuerl was made archbishop that heMcCarrickintended to be around a long time. He signified that he will continue to remain active in public policy issues and serves as chairman of a task force examining the Churchs relationship with Catholic politicians whose voting records conflict with Church doctrine.
In this connection he has never sanctioned any U.S. Catholic politician for any reason. His nadir came when he disseminated a letter from Josef Cardinal Ratzinger prior to his becoming Benedict XVI to the bishops which McCarrick represented as discouraging any attempt to deny Communion to a pro-abort Catholic politician. Later it was discovered the letter McCarrick distributed was an altered and inaccurate representation of Ratzingers views which were just the opposite. It was a bare-faced fraud that would have got him in dutch if it had been pulled in a congressional hearing; as duplicitous an act as was ever carried out in the old days when in Europe cardinals were political honchos. It was an enormous service to the Democratic party in the U.S. But nothing happened from Rome or elsewhere to punish that act of intentional duplicity which mis-led his fellow bishops. McCarrick fits the part of the old-line English and French political cardinals beautifully. But anyhow, like him or not, he has guts. Next to him almost everyone with some notable exceptions in the senior episcopate is wimpy saying one thing to an audience and contradicting it when talking to another gathering.
While the senior episcopate is invested in portrait-posing and are surrounded by press assistants invested in ceremonials and semantics and interminable parsing-parsing-parsing McCarrick delivers the political goods for the Democratic party. Last year it was announced that McCarrick will become a counselor at the Center for the Study of Strategic and International Studies at Georgetown where he continues his interest in public policies vis-à-vis the Church.
Again: McCarrick at least stands for something. How did it happen that so many nebbishes, half-men and bland, un-forcefulyes parsing-- nonentities have been named bishops who seek only one thingwhat they prattle as unity i.e. placating everybody, instead of demonstrating the power of conviction? One former high Vatican aide, a priest, gave me one hint. At bishop appointment time, John Paul II would be served with a stack of papers in alphabetical order bearing the names and credentials of prospective bishops. Sometimes the stack would be as thick as a telephone directory.
Rather than peruse the stack, he would lift the top paper from the stack delicately so as not to disturb the others and give it to an aide with his okay and turned to other things. To many other things to occupy himalmost endless international trips, his strategy of dealing with the imminent fall of the Iron Curtain attention and his own failing health. George Weigels laudatory biography a beautifully written but lets face it an officially approved boilerplate job never mentions any failing but is entirely adulatoryand never why JPII named so many mediocre men Bernard Law comes to mind who had to be spirited out of the country by Rome when things got hot because of his near-criminal mishandling of clerical sex abuse to kids Law transferring known perverts to parishes where their records were not knownwriting laudatory letters of recommendation for them.. got through the net.
Weigel never touched that subject. Hes like that: highly educated, a gifted theologian but in his book acted as an authorized p. r. man or press secretary than critical biographer. And a Company Man addressing audiences concerned with bishops failings by denying the failings in the first place. Keeping whatever failings he discovered to himself.
If John Pauls picking the first sheet off the stack of bishopric recommendations is true and looking at many of the bishops who got through the net it could well be (after all, Bernardins name began with a B doesnt it and may well have been the first paper in the stack) it doesnt change his papal stature in history but maybe in the future he should be called Good Pope John Paul rather than as some starry-eyed biographers would have it John Paul II the Great.