With apologies to Johnny Cash, this is what came to mind while reading a recent George Weigel column in the Denver Catholic Register that took retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick to task for his vaunted claims to “moderation” in matters related to the Church. Beginning with a story the cardinal has been said to repeat often, Weigel sets the stage:
In a series of talks and interviews surrounding the announcement of his retirement as archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick frequently told his favorite John Paul II story: the story of the Pope walking up the center aisle of Newark cathedral in October 1995, touching people on both sides. This, Cardinal McCarrick suggested, was how priests and bishops ought to act — sticking to the “middle,” in order to be in touch with everyone. Or, as he told National Public Radio, “the job of a priest always forces you to the middle…We’ve got to be in the middle so that we don’t let those on the left or the right get lost.”
Weigel points out that the middle isn’t the place that John Paul wanted to be. Instead, he wanted to be before Christ in all things.
“Left and right” or “heterodox and orthodox”?