Last week there was plenty of coverage of the interview with Wolf Blitzer and Theodore Cardinal McCarrick on the Federal Marriage Amendment. I’d did not post about the Cardinal’s remarks because I figured within a short time he would issue a statement clarifying them. The part of the transcript that made the rounds was the following:
BLITZER: Another very sensitive issue that’s being dealt with in the Senate right now involves a constitutional ban on same sex marriage. Senator Ted Kennedy said this yesterday. He said, "A vote for this amendment is a vote for bigotry, pure and simple." You disagree with him, don’t you?
MCCARRICK: On this one, I do. Ted and I have — do have differences from time to time. And this is a real big one. It seems to me that we really have to continue to define marriage as we’ve defined marriage for thousands of years as a union between a man and a woman.
Now, I think the legislation as it is proposed would not throw out the possibility of a civil union. And I think we can — we can live with that if this is what — if this is what the Constitution will provide for. But to say that you can take this concept of marriage, this word of marriage and use it in ways that it has never been used before, as far as I know, in the history of the world, I think that makes no sense.
BLITZER: So just explain. You think that you could live with — you could support civil unions between gays and lesbians, but you wouldn’t like them to get formally married, is that right?
MCCARRICK: Yes. I think — I think basically the ideal would be that everybody was — was able to enter a union with a man and a woman and bring children into the world and have the wonderful relationship of man and wife that is so mutually supportive and is really so much part of our society and what keeps our society together. That’s the ideal.
If you can’t meet that ideal, if there are people who for one reason or another just cannot do that or feel they cannot do that, then in order to protect their right to take care of each other, in order to take care of their right to have visitation in a hospital or something like that, I think that you could allow, not the ideal, but you could allow for that for a civil union.
But if you begin to fool around with the whole — the whole nature of marriage, then you’re doing something which effects the whole culture and denigrates what is so important for us. Marriage is the basic foundation of our family structure. And if we lose that, then I think we become a society that’s in real trouble.
The Cardinal starts off pretty good, but it goes down hill from there. Some have described the Cardinal as a man of the middle, but from his previous statements I think he is more of a man of the muddle. He didn’t quite translate the direct wording of then-Cardinal Ratzinger leader to him to the other bishops and in this case he again quite muddled on Catholic teaching. Besides the whole issue of requiring civil unions to provide for hospital visitations is a red-herring in the first place. As if this would be the only legal remedy for such situations which are mainly hyped up anyway.
Now the expected clarification has arrived.
“I’m afraid that I misspoke last Wednesday when I was being interviewed on CNN.
“We were talking about the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment and the protection of marriage between a man and a woman. Here is what I said: ‘We really have to continue to define marriage as we have defined marriage for thousands of years as a union between a man and a woman.’
“After that, I spoke of the legislation as it had been proposed and that it would not eliminate the possibility of civil unions. I said, ‘If this is what the legislation would provide for, I think we can live with that.’
“My point was that the wording of the proposed legislation to protect marriage, which did not eliminate civil unions, might be necessary in order to have the votes needed to pass it. I added, ‘to say that you can take the concept of marriage and use it in ways that it has never been used before, as far as I know, in the history of the world, I think makes no sense.’
“When probed further on the question of civil unions, which came up because the wording of the constitutional amendment did not seem to eliminate them, I returned to the ideal – that everybody should be ‘able to enter a union with a man and a woman and that would bring children into the world and have the wonderful relationship of man and wife that is so mutually supportive and is really so much part of our society and what keeps society together.’
“I added, ‘If you fool around with the whole nature of marriage, then you are doing something which affects the whole culture and denigrates what is so important for us. Marriage is the basic foundation of our family structure and if we lose that, then I think we become a society that is in real trouble.’
“In trying to reply to a question, I mentioned people who may need the right to take care of each other when they are grievously ill and hospitalized, but it was always in the context of the proposed legislation and in no way in favor of a lifestyle that is contrary to the teaching of the Church and Scripture. I realized that my words could have given the wrong impression to someone who did not take my remarks in context.
“I regret any confusion my words may have caused because I did not make myself sufficiently clear.”
All clear now? Man of the muddle indeed. Noticeably absent is any clarification about people "who can’t make the idea" or "feel that" they can’t make it. Instead he concentrated on the later part of the same paragraph. Also noticeably absent is any theological point of view or any restatement of Catholic teaching, instead there is a more generic defense of marriage from societies view.
It will be interesting to see how Bishop Wuerl will handle his responsibilities as the face of the Catholic Church as he Theodore Cardinal McCarrick’s place on the 22nd of this month.
One thing I can say though is that the good Bishop can really swing a thurible.