Quick Hits: Priest-pundits mince no words, on death penalty and McCarrick scandal

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jun 26, 2019

Today two priest-pundits offer essays that really cannot be missed:

Father George William Rutler is at his best, which is very, very good, as he analyzes the US bishops’ discussion of capital punishment for Crisis. He focuses attention on the decision by Pope Francis to change the Catechism, to say that the death penalty is now “inadmissible.” One hapless bishop described that word a bit of “eloquent ambiguity,” and readers will enjoy Father Rutler’s reaction to that comment. On the new wording itself, Father Rutler writes:

If “inadmissible” does not mean something essentially different from what has already been said magisterially about capital punishment, why is it necessary to revise the Catechism to include it? Secondly, if the word “inadmissible” is deliberately ambiguous, why does it belong in a catechism whose purpose is to eschew ambiguity?

Father Gerald Murray comments on the McCarrick case, and pulls no punches as we pass the one-year anniversary of the scandal. McCarrick, he notes, “remains in a Kansas Capuchin friary adjacent to a parochial school as a non-paying guest; his expulsion from the priesthood has not resulted in any change in his Church provided living arrangements….This is remarkable. How many other forcibly laicized priests found guilty of sexually molesting young men would be given this consideration?” Obviously the disgraced former prelate is receiving special treatment. Why? Father Murray answers the question: “There is obviously a culture of concealment in the hierarchy—we see it in the long history of McCarrick’s crimes, and we see it in the Bransfield-Lori investigation.”

Please don’t be satisfied with these little appetizers; read both columns in full.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - Jun. 29, 2019 12:55 PM ET USA

    And as I think more about this - this is truly bothersome - when we limit the ability to freely speak and share ideas and opinions before "final" decisions are made, we limit the working of the Holy Spirit. Not that He is in any way limited but rather we give over to our own thinking of how "right" should be rather than allowing the guidance of the Holy Spirit to ensure we live by what "right" is. Ughhh

  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - Jun. 29, 2019 12:44 PM ET USA

    ...and we wonder why there are scandals in the Church.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jun. 28, 2019 11:13 PM ET USA

    The Bransfield-Lori investigation is further proof that it is a total farce to believe that bishops can hold their fellow bishops accountable. If a bishop will pull this blatant lie when everyone is so concerned about transparency what won't they hide when things quiet down.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jun. 28, 2019 10:32 PM ET USA

    I guess we could consider that "eloquent ambiguity" is an oxymoron.

  • Posted by: paulamarcel8338 - Jun. 28, 2019 6:24 PM ET USA

    In an effort to keep the McCarrick facts true - yes, there is a school near the friary. It is NOT parochial, it is public and it is on a different street. He is not allowed outdoors and the public does not enter the friary. This post is simply meant to share physical, verifiable facts.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jun. 26, 2019 6:11 PM ET USA

    Thanks Phil. It is nice to have these priests writing with reason, clarity, and conviction in these times.

  • Posted by: MWCooney - Jun. 26, 2019 4:00 PM ET USA

    Both articles are excellent, and Fr. Rutler's are always a source of memorable gems. I have copied his WFB quotation, and I've placed it in my ready library for quick use. :]