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The cardinal's silence continues...

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | May 16, 2012

Following up on an editorial in the archdiocesan newspaper, the Archdiocese of Washington has issued a statement on Georgetown’s commencement invitation to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The archdiocese understands the “concerns, objections, and even outrage” that the invitation has caused. The situation is “shocking” and “especially distressing,” the statement allows. “It is also understandable that Catholics would view this as a challenge to the bishops.”

Not just “the bishops” in general, but one bishop in particular: the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl. The Washington Post recognizes Georgetown’s action as a direct challenge to the cardinal, and reads the archdiocesan statement as the cardinal’s response. But here’s the odd thing about that statement: the cardinal’s name is not on it.

My colleague Jeff Mirus is right; it’s significant that archdiocesan officials are being forthright in their criticism of Georgetown, and it’s fair to assume that they are making these strong statements with at least implicit support from their boss. Still Cardinal Wuerl himself remains silent.

We know what he thinks. Or at least we think that we know what he thinks. So what is accomplished by this silence, which has now become conspicuous? This is a very curious form of leadership.

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  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - May. 16, 2012 7:07 PM ET USA

    Dear Cardinal Wuerl, There are situations to be dealt with delicately and with prudent tact. Grave personal matters of faith should never be flaunted in public debate. But at what point does a Church Leader take a stand for the fundamental principles on which Catholics base their lives? Why can't places like Georgetown, Catholic, and Notre Dame Universities be held accountable for their public display of our Faith? If we are not understanding the situation, please explain.

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