Sep 6, 2005

McCarrick still in, what does it mean?

Word is that Pope Benedict has asked Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., to continue in his post for a couple more years.

During the recent presidential race, Cardinal McCarrick reportedly misrepresented the contents of a letter that the then Cardinal Ratzinger sent to Bishop Gregory and McCarrick. The letter was issued in response to the controversy surrounding Democrat presidential nominee John Kerry's reception of Holy Communion in spite of his atrocious record on abortion as well as on other moral issues.

Understandably, many faithful Catholics were looking forward to McCarrick's imminent retirement and his being replaced by a prelate (like, possibly, Denver Archbishop Chaput) who will not further muddy the theological waters.

But now it appears we will have to wait. What does this mean?

To answer this question I do not turn to self-styled "Vaticanologists" who hear whispering voices from on high. Their conjectures are no better than the conjectures of just about anyone else.

So, for what it's worth, here is my analysis which, I freely admit, is founded upon a firm trust in the intelligence and wisdom of this pope.

Pope Benedict XVI knows he needs to renew the pastoral leadership of the Church. The Church has suffered too much at the hands of weak, inept, intellectually lackluster and even in some cases immoral bishops. In a word, Benedict needs to clean house. But he is not going to set about this task in a haphazard, reactionary sort of way. His approach will be, as it has always been, well studied and deliberate.

There is any number of significant episcopal appointments on the horizon. To fill those sees will obviously entail moving good, experienced bishops from one place to another. It will also necessitate appointing new bishops who will meet the Ratzinger muster of orthodoxy. All of this will take time. But not too much time, for while I pray that Pope Benedict will live 100 years, I rather doubt that the Holy Father is banking on that kind of longevity. He has a job to do and I am convinced that he will do it well. But we will all have to be immensely patient and very trusting that Papa Ratzi knows best.


Blogger Jeff said...

I love the stuff about trust. Benedict is the kind of man makes it easy to figure that he knows better than onesself. I usually go to the old Mass, but when I go to the New Mass, I can't help but hug myself when I hear, "together with Benedict our Pope..."

But... I am wearisomely going to pick a bone with you...


"I do not turn to self-styled "Vaticanologists" who hear whispering voices from on high. Their conjectures are no better than the conjectures of just about anyone else."

—is nonsense.

Some people know folks in the Curia and other well-connected people. That doesn't mean that their own agendas don't sometimes distort what they hear. But it does mean that they sometimes know WHAT will happen before the rest of us. And they sometimes know WHY it is happening, or at least have some insight into the thinking that is going on.

I won't quibble with you in the particular case of McCarrick; I don't know why he's being retained. But in a general way, Rocco Palmo has established an excellent record, especially in anticipating the Levada record. When he speculates, he generally says, "I'm speculating." When he has been told that something is a done deal, he says, "This is what will happen." And so far, it has. Even speculation based on what people in touch with decision making are saying can be more valuable than what provincials like us may guess.

So, in such cases at least, your speculation — or mine — is hardly on par with what one reads on Whispers and Papabile.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Quintero said...


Thanks for the post.

First, I cannot say I am an avid reader of Rocco so I am not qualified to speak to the reliability of his speculations. I will have to "trust" you on this point.

The distinction you make between the "what" and the "why" is important. As to the "what" (of things not yet revealed) we are dependent upon those who have their “contacts” in the Vatican or in the chanceries and that information is usually straightforward enough. Rocco evidently has his "contacts" and others have theirs.

As to the “why,” however, more often than not one is dealing with conjecture which is based upon subjective assumptions which may or may not be accurate.

Thanks, again, for stopping by. I hope to hear from you again!

1:03 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...


That's a valid point, but it only carries you so far. If you or I knew some well-connected people in the Vatican and could ask them, "Why did Pope Benedict reappoint McCarrick?" we would do so, rather than rely on our own guesses.

Maybe the answer we get would be substantial: the Pope or the Prefect had explained things as part of the decision making process.

Maybe there would be several possible reasons for doing things and no one could know which one of them went into the Pope's final decision. Still, he might have discussed one or two of them, or the issues involved might have been raised before by him, or he might have expressed a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the person involved in another context.

Surely, someone familiar with what goes on in the Pope's bureaucracy, or who is on familiar terms with several such people would be a valuable resource.

You don't need to trust me about Rocco. Go back and look at his posts before Levada's appointment. He said, "Levada is IN, this is not speculation, doubters need only wait for my champagne cork to pop." Others were saying, "We are hearing rumors, but they're just rumors, maybe, maybe not." And Rocco was right, when no one else called it.

Look at the appointments the Pope HAS made heretofore. Bishops pretty much on a par with JPII's late ones, some good, some tame. And there's Levada. I don't think Benedict's ignorant or misled, I think there's more to him than meets the eye of most "conservatives." Remember, McCarrick has been asked to stay for something on the order of two YEARS, according to his statement. That doesn't seem to me to square with the notion that he's just holding off long enough to get the reorganization train rolling. You can always leave an administrator in charge if you want to get someone out. No, when a bishop is asked to stay on, it's usually because the Pope is at least satisfied with what he's doing and sees no reason to shunt him aside. See Paris (til recently), see Munich, etc., etc.

I think you're setting yourself up for a disappointment. The Pope is humble, suspicious of his own shortcomings, and not prone to hold grudges. And he wants to govern broadly and persuade, not just thunder. He's going to make appointments that will please you, but he's going to make appointments that won't, like Levada.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

Phooey. The vatican watcher blogs all said McCarrick would be gone by September and they were all wrong.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The appointment of a Bishop is a human and fallible decision, even for a good Pope. It is possible for Bishops to hide their true natures, or to change after they are made Bishops. It is also possible for the people that the Pope relies upon to help him make a choice to be of bad will, imprudent, or to be simply mistaken. So, maybe Ben XVI is taking his time to get it right.

In the meantime, McCarrick is praying to Allah. Is this kosher?

“Traditional Islam: The Path to Peace”
Remarks by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick
Archbishop of Washington and CUA Chancellor

CUA Columbus School of Law
Sept. 13, 2005

Your Majesty, King Abdullah
Your Majesty Queen Rania
Prince Ghazi
Members of the delegation from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Father President
Distinguished guests from many faith communities
Dear friends all,
Your Majesty,

A few months ago, when I was privileged to pray for you on another occasion in this capital city, I asked Allah, the compassionate and merciful Lord of all the world, to bless you and to help you make your country a bridge across which all nations might walk in unity, fellowship and love. As I listened to your words today, I believe my prayer is being answered.

Indeed, the Amman Message of November of last year is a blueprint and a challenge not only to the great world of Islam, but to the whole human race. Your thoughtful leadership is a stirring invitation to all of us, especially to the people of the Book, the family of Abraham, who share so much and who are called to be brothers and sisters in God’s one human family.

You have taken to heart the words of Pope Benedict XVI when he addressed the Muslim leaders gathered with him in Germany last month and invited them all to join him in eliminating from all hearts any trace of rancor, in resisting every form of intolerance and in opposing every manifestation of violence. As you quoted in your splendid talk to us today, Pope Benedict called his listeners, in this way, to turn back the way of cruel fanaticism that endangers the lives of so many people and hinders progress for world peace.

Your Majesty’s call and that of the Holy Father are in so many ways the same. May Allah, the merciful and compassionate, continue to guide your steps along this noble path. May He guide and protect you, your family and your beloved country and may peace and justice come to all lands and all peoples through your efforts, your vision and your courage.

In the name of Allah, the merciful and compassionate God, we pray. Amen.

8:54 AM  

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