sufficiently clear?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 11, 2006

"So just explain," Wolf Blitzer pressed Cardinal McCarrick, giving Uncle Ted the chance to back out of his position, "You think that you could live with -- you could support civil unions between gays and lesbians, but you wouldn't like them to get formally married, is that right?"

Yes, yes, yes, gurgled His Eminence, and the audience loved him for it. Now the faithful are calling foul, and he's trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube, claiming that folks who understood his remarks in the context he went out of his way to provide are taking those remarks out of context. A 450-word clarification on the archdiocesan website ends with this apology:

"I regret any confusion my words may have caused because I did not make myself sufficiently clear."

On the contrary, good sir: it's the clarity, not the unclarity, that's the problem.

What we're watching in operation is a familiar episcopal gambit, yet one that McCarrick has made a personal speciality. The game is to win the favor of the liberal media by addressing the hot-button issues in a "balanced" manner: that is to say, signaling sympathy for the heterodox position while uttering a few inert bromides that make indirect reference to the orthodox one. The heterodox innovation gets the media attention, as it was meant to, while conservatives who complain can be palmed off after the fact by pointing to the crumbs of Rotarian bonhomie scattered here and there in the same discussion. It's their fault, of course, for not giving their anointed shepherds the benefit of the doubt.

We saw this stunt three years ago in one of John Allen's columns:

McCarrick, who named a woman chancellor in Washington and has appointed women to significant positions of responsibility in every diocese he's led, said he wouldn't be surprised if John Paul II, in his heart, would like to have women priests. "He's never said, 'I don't want women priests,'" McCarrick said. "He's said, 'I can't do it.' He's prayed, studied, and concluded that he can't call women to the priesthood."

Recognize the move? The telegraphed sympathies are clear: JP2's not really a bad guy. Deep down, he wants women priests just as much as you and I and Katie Couric do. But you know, the good man has looked into the matter and he just can't see a way to go with his heart on this thing. But give it time.

If, on the other hand, one of us ill-conditioned shortrib-scratchers should be so tactless as to infer from the good bishop's remarks that the Holy Spirit is either 1) wrong, or 2) opposed to the Church on this issue, he'll be assured that His Eminence regrets any confusion his words may have caused.

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  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Jun. 14, 2006 3:26 PM ET USA

    benedictusoblatus, Of course many heads should roll. But don't think it's as easy as some might think. Off hand, though the Pope has universal & immediate authority, Bishops are successors to the Apostle's in their own right. And, also in defense of particularly JPII, am not so sure he rec'd the full truth from those he trust to provide it. In fact, I think there's evidence certain American prelates have even lied. Hopefully, PBXVI's cleaning up the curia will help Rome see things more clearly.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 14, 2006 1:25 PM ET USA

    Vincit: too bad the bishops who didn't listen weren't fired. Nearly fifty years of vacillating papal governance is long enough. Time for miters to leave the heads of heterodox prelates.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Jun. 13, 2006 10:09 PM ET USA

    Tomecom: I somewhat agree with you. JPII in a public address WYD '93, Denver: "I have already written to the bishops of the US about the pain of the suffering and scandal caused by the sins of some ministers of the altar. Sad situations such as these invite us anew to look at the mystery of the Church... While every human means for responding to this evil MUST be implemented, we cannot forget that the first and most important means is prayer..." Just too bad many Bp's didn't listen!

  • Posted by: - Jun. 13, 2006 12:45 PM ET USA

    Tomecom, It's no secret that JPII made some of the worst episcopal appointments in Church history. The US is littered with them. So it Italy. Have you read Sandro Magister's report on what's going on in the Duomo right now? It went from bad (Martini) to worse (Tettamanzi).

  • Posted by: - Jun. 13, 2006 10:59 AM ET USA

    benedictus, if you want to attack JPII, go ahead. It just strikes me that so many posters in these comments want the leadership of the Church to be all-knowing (i.e. the Pope knows EVERYTHING every bishop says, every bishop knows EVERYTHING every priest says), highly intellectual and well-spoken, perfectly orthodox, and most importantly, would run the Church the way YOU want it run. When you find the road to this utopia, let me know. In the meantime, maybe stop being so critical?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 12, 2006 5:06 PM ET USA

    tomecom: Am I supposed to be sanguine about the possibility of men being made cardinals, princes of the Church, who are dumb or not too bright? There are a billion so-called Catholics in the world, of which 120+ are cardinals. These should be men who are renowned for their holiness AND intelligence. To be otherwise is just another indictment against the less than bright individual who chose them.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 12, 2006 9:07 AM ET USA

    I wonder of McCarrick's quick "clarification" was jump-started from the Vatican?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 12, 2006 8:54 AM ET USA

    Diogenes, the Cardinal's "clarification" indicates he intended his comments to be taken exactly as I suggested in my comments on your other post. The difference between you and me on this matter is I think Cardinal McCarrick is kind of dumb and says stupid things while meaning well, while you seem to think he is hyper-intelligent and deliberately says things in such a way as that they may be understood as opposed to Catholic teaching while still having crumbs of orthodoxy. He ain't that bright.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Jun. 11, 2006 10:59 PM ET USA

    dear Cardinal, while you're in an apologetic mood, why don't you let us know where your "task force" is on the scandal of allowing pro-abort politicians to recieve Holy Communion. oh, yeah, you're retired...but, you have enough pull to get on top-rated talk shows, surely you can pull a couple of strings to get those studying the issue to cough up some statement. btw, your Eminence, part of repentance is not only to express sorrow but to try and amend one's life. you've done alot of harm...

  • Posted by: Fatimabeliever - Jun. 11, 2006 4:03 PM ET USA

    If there ever was a time in history for severe censure, Cardinal McCarrick truly needs it? I sincerely hope Pope Benedict does it quickly because this kind of press exposure is not good in validating the teachings of the truth of the Catholic Church! Does Cardinal McCarrick wants to be the Pope of the American Catholic Church? The way the press treats him, they want to make him one and split with Rome by using his own words. Do they interview the Cardinals who uphold the truth? Hardly ever

  • Posted by: Sir William - Jun. 11, 2006 3:29 PM ET USA

    Ah. Another 'I didn't *really* mean what I meant' comment. What else did we expect from this poor hireling? Your Eminence, Jesus had rather an interesting way of describing His opinion of the lukewarm. You might want to take a closer look at that chapter of Revelation sometime and think about it.