Rhetorical reindeer games

Rhetorical reindeer games

Last week, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retiring archbishop of Washington, was on CNN talking about a variety of things, including same-sex marriage. Within a convoluted series of hedges and qualifications, McCarrick said he could support civil unions between gays and lesbians. The blogosphere sprouted all kinds of reactions at this apparent refutation of the Church clear stance on this, but I waited. Now the archdiocese has come out with a “clarification,” which unfortunately sheds no more light on what McCarrick actually said.

Diogenes nails the phenomenon at work here, a technique that McCarrick has mastered.

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.

Of course, such “clarifications” never make it into the media or get the coverage that the original statement did. Thus you leave the vast majority of people, including very many Catholics, with the impression that the bishop was advancing an idea contrary to the teaching or discipline of the Church, while the bishop retains suitable deniability to which he can point when challenged.

McCarrick on JPII on ordaining women

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8 comments
  • McCarrick’s not that shrewd, just used-car-salesman slippery.  He manages to placate just enough people in thoroughly ingratiating fashion, all the while completely missing the point of Washington AND Rome.  He reminds me for all the world of Wally Cleaver.  Remember him?

    Bernardin wasn’t all that shrewd—just covered for by his buddies.  Lots is known about Bernardin and it ain’t pretty.  People don’t like to talk about it because 1) it’s past, 2) it was thoroughly weirdly bad, and 3) his buddies are still lurking menacingly.  A bad chapter in American Catholic history with which we still struggle.

  • I did mean Eddie Haskell, Zita.  Thanks.  Eddie Haskell to a T.

    Thank you Chris, but I’m not sure you can see me, only my print. 

    Bernardin was around in the age of see-no-evil before Boston.  I remember back when I used to laugh at the American Church aka kitties in a litter box.  Whenever anything would happen we’d all close our little eyes, turn around and cover it up quick with litter, then pretend nothing happened, purring.  Do you remember those days?

    It’s sad that these things happened, but at least we’re no longer lying about it.  Praying about it is better.

  • Remember:  Uncle Teddy was caught once, fabricating the vatican’s position on politicians recieving communion. It seems to me that every intellegent person see right through him, and so he is not as shrewed as he thinks.  Thats probably the only reason he is leaving WDC today rather than two or three years from now.

    Personally he reminds me of the Cardinal of Viena in the classic movie “The Cardinal” (which relates a historically true case of appeasement).

  • Those who are giving McCarrick the benefit of the doubt will have to come with an answer for why the Cardinal could possibly stumble into the approval of civil unions of homsexuals, since they’re not even acceptable for unmarried heterosexual couples.  If he’s dumb, he’s dumb and apparently not too bothered by the sanctity of marriage.

  • Janice et al,  I have to say that from my understanding there isn’t any particular problem with the seamless garment idea of Bernadin.  In fact, it’s a great way for orthodox Catholics to demonstrate that “social justice” (whatever that ever-growing term encompasses) springs forth from our concern for authentic liturgies, reverent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and valiant stands for first things.  The problem is the application of the seamless garment idea, whereby heterodox folks have taken it and tried to imply that it levels the gravity of all issues.  That’s just not the case as we all know.  Abortion is simply a greater evil than poverty or the death penalty.

    Whining about it doesn’t change anything though, we have to get out in our parishes and demonstrate that the same people who support ad orientem liturgies in Latin along with perpetual adoration are also the ones willing to staff the soup kitchen and collect clothing donations.  Then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote (in one of his homilies in “God is Near Us”) that the sacrament of the Eucharist should drive us out into the streets ready to address the needs of the poor and ready to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

    Right now, there is too much either-or in the world, and not enough both-and, especially in our Catholic Church.

    ~Big Tom

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