Monday, June 19, 2006

Good advice

Catholic News Service reports here that Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick warned the U.S. bishops last week that "the intense polarization and bitter battles of partisan politics may be seeping into (the) broader ecclesial life of our Catholic people and maybe even of our (bishops') conference."
On polarization within the church he said: "We are called to teach the truth, to correct errors and to call one another to greater faithfulness. However, there should be no place in the body of Christ for the brutality of partisan politics, the impugning of motives, or turning differences in pastoral judgment into fundamental disagreements on principle.

"Civility and mutual respect which we must witness are not signs of weakness or lack of commitment, but solid virtues which reflect confidence and faith.

"We don't fit the partisan categories," he continued. "We are not chaplains of factions, but rather builders of genuine unity reflecting the truth of our faith and the diversity of our community. People can divide up the work, but they shouldn't divide the church."

The task force was heavily criticized in some U.S. Catholic quarters for its insistence that there can be no hard-and-fast national rule forbidding Catholic politicians from receiving Communion if they adopt public policy stands that are in opposition to church teaching on fundamental moral issues such as abortion or euthanasia or same-sex marriage.

Instead, the task force said it is up to each bishop to seek to educate and persuade Catholic politicians on church teachings in such areas and to make case-by-case pastoral decisions whether certain members of their diocese should be told not to present themselves for Communion.

Cardinal McCarrick said his role on the task force was one of the most challenging he faced in nearly 30 years as a bishop.

"This is not about one election or one campaign," he said. "It is about how we as bishops faithfully fulfill our responsibilities as moral teachers, as caring pastors and as leaders of the Catholic community within a democratic and pluralistic nation."