Ratzinger’s “harmony” letter

Ratzinger’s “harmony” letter

Sandro Magister, the Italian journalist who published Ratzinger’s letter to McCarrick, has a followup piece in the aftermath, including the he said/he said debate and Ratzinger’s “harmony” letter.

Returning to Ratzinger’s letter to McCarrick, it must be emphasized that, when it speaks of “harmony,” it refers exclusively to the document “Catholics in Political Life,” but passes over in silence the “Interim Reflections” produced in Denver by the Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, presided over by McCarrick himself.

The reason is simple. The “Interim Reflections” are much more difficult to harmonize with the principles fixed by Ratzinger in his memorandum.

That’s because the “Interim Reflections” were rejected by the bishops in favor of their formulation as expressed in the statement released at the end of the bishops’ meeting. Yet, notice that the “Interim Reflections” remain on the home page of the USCCB, right next to the superceding statement “Catholics in Political Life,” as if they bear equal authoritative weight and don’t contradict one another. And McCarrick’s own statement that appears with the “harmony” letter muddies the water as well, bringing in his task force’s “reflections” and once again making it appear that Ratzinger endorsed its conclusions when he didn’t.

Finally, note that “very much in harmony” is not necessarily the same thing as “is in complete agreement with.” He didn’t exactly endorse the “Catholics in Political Life” statement either, but said that he hopes to continue dialogue, as if the issue were not finished. All very interesting.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
14 comments
  • I agree wholeheartedly with Dom. The “independent contractor” defense was pioneered by Cardinal Egan when he was having to defend the Diocese of Bridgeport, his previous see, from multiple lawsuits over penis-biting priests and others. It was laughed out of court, and deserved to be. I don’t have any idea whether or not the Archdiocese of NY should be held responsible for this priest’s swindling (if indeed he is found to have been a swindler), but I do know the “independent contractor” claim is ridiculous, and morally repulsive.

  • Are priests given 1099s, and if so do they file a self employment tax?

    If the answer is yes they are independent contractors, otherwise they are employees.

  • “I think it sets a bad precedent and sends a poor message to claim that priests are op,  so large that this one woman is essentially funding his retirement and excluding her own family from inheriting, it raises questions and the estate is only making a claim now – they haven’t won in court yet – but I think the estate is entitled to some answers.

    The principle that William Donohue cites is that a priest can accept a gift of any size at any time from anyone is not a principle that is ethically defensible—simply because some gifts if disclosed will make the cover of 3 newspapers in one day because of appearances and suspicions.

  • It sure would be nice to see a consise, unambiguous statement from the Vatican on this issue.  One day it appears that one has been made.  The next day, we find out apparently that it wasn’t as clear as we thought.  The next, it is “clarified” again, and we think we now know what they are saying.  Well, what next?  It gets tiresome watching this “ping pong ball” go back and forth.

  • You know, being a bishop in an important see in this country used to be such a wonderful thing: prestige, palatial accommodations, wonderful dinner invites, lots of willing staff to do the paperwork, episcopal conferences where one could swap tails and drink wine with ones equals, and warm appreciation from the “beautiful people” for ones “progressive” agenda.  Now it’s all different!  Angry calls and letters from troglodytes who suddenly want one to take all that old “medieval stuff” seriously and even risk offending Important People by enforcing it, endless questions about the transferring of “problem priests” – these people just don’t understand the problems of diocesan administration! – and seriously eroded prestige.  Yes, those good old days are so over!

  • David, you’ve SEEN the unambiguous statement from the Vatican—it was the Ratzinger note “leaked” around July 7th (?)

    All the rest you’ve seen is the spin put out by the congenital liar, McCarrick (I can no longer bring myself to use his honorific.)

  • I’m unsure of what goes on in other Diocese, but I am paid by my parish as an independent contractor/self-employed.  I pay quarterly estimated income tax.  Annually I pay taxes on other benefits such as housing, food and car allowance, based on current tax laws.  I also report “stole fees” for weddings, funerals, house blessings and baptisms.  Since my Diocese is self insured I do pay the majority of my health insurance.  All this is required of every diocesan priest … we are even sent updated tax codes as apply to clergy to give our CPA’s who file taxes for us.

  • What you all thought you saw from the Vatican, and which really meant something, you now see you didn’t see, and whatever it meant, it no longer means…  And that in-your-face lie from an American Cardinal?  The new lie is that there never was a lie…

    They are really walking in the footsteps of Christ…

  • Talk about the professionalization of the priesthood!! A priest is simply not a lawyer or civil servant.  He is supposed to be family and gifts are permitted to family members, even large ones.  We all were given an astonishingly large gift because we are (only adopted) sons and daughters.  My mother is not responsible to me for giving large sums to my sister even if this causes heart-burnings on my part.  That’s my own problem because I am not her employee or shareholder!! 

  • It is as it was, or was it?

    I am so sick of this. I’ve been Catholic 20 years now, and I’m pretty saddened by some of the experience. 

    I understand why a lot of people have left the Church.  For the first time in my life, I really understand the Reformation.  I even understand the pathological incoherence many Catholics have about the church which causes them to lie constantly.  Most catholics don’t own up to this—hell, most catholics are in so much denial they can’t even admit it to themselves. 

    I’ll probably always be Catholic because of the Holy Eucharist to which I’m very attached, and because of the some of the Saints whose witness is important to me.  But I’m not Catholic enough, I guess, to cover up the crap.  Maybe I don’t have enough invested in some of it.  Maybe I just can’t stand lying and don’t think it solves anything.

    Much of modern Catholicism is simply a joke.  We’re not going to convert anyone (or hang onto most people) til we act like we know what we’re doing and get serious about it. 

  • David,

    “It sure would be nice to see a consise, unambiguous statement from the Vatican on this issue.”

    One has been made.  Don’t read into Cardinal Ratzinger’s statement more than what is there.  He is clear.  He is always clear. 

    I will ask a couple of questions that I posed to Mr. Bettinelli:  Does Cardinal Ratzinger affirm the US bishops position?  Does Cardinal Ratzinger find merit in Cardinal McCarrick’s task force?

    BTW, don’t put too much credibility into L’espresso as an offical spokesman for the Vatican.  It is the Italian equivalent of ‘People Magazine.’  I would look to L’Osservatore Romano for anything offical.

    As far as subjectivism, which runs rampant here and in many other places in the Church, shelf it.  We belong to something bigger than the sum of our thoughts.  We belong to a Body that is not only Mystical, but objectively perfect. 

    We convert all the time, the Church is growing.  It has grown by leaps and bounds and all we have to do is look to how many people are brought into the Church every year.  We have gained 243 million in the last 26 years….that is a good number.  Praise God.

    Fides et Ratio, if we apply it, we will perservere.  Regardless of what goes on around us.

    Camilam

  • I continue to wonder why people expect the American bishops to conform to Cardinal Ratzinger’s view of this situation when they ignore him on so many others.  I have become used to reading Roman documents for curiosity’s sake, not because I expect them to have any practical effect in my diocese. 

  • Does Cardinal Ratzinger affirm the US bishops position? Affirm it? No.

    Does Cardinal Ratzinger find merit in Cardinal McCarrick benefits the diocese. Talk to a priest sometime about what his tax returns look like every year. The get double-whacked on Social Security and on having to claim room and board as income and several other issues.

    Be that as it may, I think it sets a bad precedent and sends a poor message to claim that priests are “independent”, and not integral.

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