Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

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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