McCarrick the Moderate

McCarrick the Moderate

When the media speaks of ideological divisions, there are usually two sides: conservative and moderate. Almost never is someone labeled a liberal. Thus you are left with the impression that moderates are level-headed, open-minded folks who only want the right things. And then there are the ... conservatives! Reactionary, recalcitrant, backwards-looking, extremist. You don’t want to be one of them. Usually the stories don’t let “conservative” stand alone, but will add the modifiers “right-wing,” “hardline,” “extreme,” and so on.

To wit, we have this profile from a New Jersey newspaper that bemoans the retirement of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, DC, as a loss for “moderate” Catholics. (Which also gets us into the thorny issue of whether it is appropriate to label Catholics using ideological terms; after all, what’s important is orthodoxy v. heterodoxy, not ideology.)

In any case, the article lionizes McCarrick as a “distinctly moderate voice at a time when other bishops have grown more conservative and confrontational.” They quote the cardinal himself as saying, “A priest in the center can reach out to everybody,” McCarrick said last week. “He doesn’t cut himself off from people.” One might also say that a man who tries to straddle the fence quickly finds himself painfully attempting to be split down the middle. Or to quote from Scripture, “Because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold I will spew you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16)

Great Moderates in History

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  • Just think, if that guy John Baptist had just been a little more moderate and less judgmental about the personal morality of politicians his ministry would have been a great success with all.

  • Justin Martyr, whose memorial is celebrated today, is another classic example of someone who, ~1850 years after his death, remains a vibrant example of how to react when the choice of moderacy is offered and would be otherwise convenient to accept.

  • I think you’re reading into McCarrick’s words. He didn’t say anything about a priest giving his opinion on everything and a priest refraining from commenting on everything doesn’t make him a “centrist” or “moderate.”

    McCarrick seems to be saying that a centrist appeals to both conservatives and liberals, or as I would say orthodox and heterodox. I’d prefer a priest just to be orthodox, not moderate, not a centrist, not conservative, not liberal.

  • Tony: That’s part of the problem. Too many people are assuming that this is a Democrat/Republican issue. It is not. Pro-abortion Republicans should also be denied Communion.

    Second, Pope Benedict did not “re-appoint” McCarrick because there was nothing to “re-appoint” him to. He remained archbishop of Washington past retirement age, just like many other bishops. However, McCarrick himself had originally claimed he was staying on for “several years” and now suddenly he’s out. Let’s also remember that it was McCarrick himself who publicized Benedict’s supposed “re-appointment”. Nothing ever came from the Vatican and it never would.

    You claim McCarrick correctly interpreted Ratzinger’s letter, but anyone who reads it sees that what McCarrick said and what the letter says are two completely different things.

    Meanwhile, that a majority of US bishops would agree on something does not make it right. Two-thirds of sitting US bishops in 2002 were complicit in one way or another with covering up sex abuse.

    The US bishops’ conference is not the magisterium of the Church, not in themselves.

  • I remember Blessed John XXIII saying, “I have to be the Pope of the people with their foot on the brake and of the people with their foot on the gas, both at the same time!”

  • “While John Paul was very flexible about extensions beyond 75, Benedict seems to be taking a stricter approach.”

    This is nonsense.  Just look at Catholic Hierarchy dot com.  Benedict is accepting virtually NO resignations, unless he has someone available to take the spot or a coadjutor is ready.  Until he does, he lets people stay on.  There are lots of bishops who have been dragging on past their resignations and very few open spots.  MOST of the open spots are due to death or transfer to another see, not resignations.  Just watch the Vatican Website every day to see how many resignations are accepted without a successor simultaneously named.  They pop out at you because they are so VERY rare.

    This was not AT ALL JPII’s style.

    “This is Benedict we are talking about here—if you do somthing theologically suspect, he will correct you. That’s his style.’

    More nonsense!

    No, that’s the style that the liberals pretended was his.  Ratzinger has always been very slow to punish, very long in listening and pondering, always willing to err on the side of assuming misunderstanding and good faith.

    He is more patient and collegial than JPII.  And always was.  The other stuff is propaganda.  Everyone who was privvy to his management style at CDF said, he listened to everyone, summed everything up fairly and brilliantly and almost always went with what the consensus of the group was.

    For episcopal picks, he seems to be using the ternas very strictly, and that means three names come from bishops of the province in question and are whittled down to one by the Congregation of Bishops.  People forget that Popes don’t in fact just “pick” bishops.  They CAN and on rare occasions they DO, but most of the time they rely on the terna.

  • Archbishop McCarric’s biggest problem in my view is that he has been vulnerable to blackmail by the “lavender mafia” and their allies.  It is an open secret that the good Abp. has problems that could be exploited in that way.  He may be may be personally orthodox, but I believe he has acted like someone who is not his own man.  In that case, it is a great charity for the Holy Father to take him out of a bad situation, and McCarric may have secretly wanted out for some time.