NEWTON — Catholic bishops are about to begin a series of meetings with leaders of Catholic colleges, hospitals, and social-service agencies to discuss the most effective way to withhold honors from politicians who support abortion rights or have other major doctrinal differences with the church, an influential American cardinal said last night at Boston College. [Source]
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, said a task force he heads will seek to ensure that an agreement by the bishops to withhold such honors is enforced consistently and nationally. The plan to withhold the honors followed last year’s decision by the bishops not to take a collective position on whether to allow Catholics who support abortion rights, such as Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, to receive Communion.
In an interview before his speech, McCarrick said he will argue that politicians who disagree with church teachings should be allowed to speak at Catholic colleges but should not receive honorary degrees. He said he decided in his own diocese, where many members of Congress worship, not to attempt to deny Communion to politicians who support abortion rights, because ”I do not believe there is a place for confrontation at the altar."
McCarrick, who is one of 11 American cardinals eligible to vote in the next papal election, said in the interview that he expects the ailing John Paul II to remain pope ”as long as he feels he can continue to serve the church.
It looks like what was already a weak compromise is to be weakened even further. If they now define honoring as just giving an award and will allow politicians who are blatantly pro-abortion, pro-ESCR, or pro same-sex marriage to speak. There was some discussion in the aftermath of what honoring entails and now unsurprisingly it is defined very narrowly. The USCCB previous document stated:
The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.
So I guess not being given platforms means absolutely nothing. I am sure they would not allow someone like David Duke to speak regardless of how far his speech was from racial hatred. I happen to think that allowing those who hold and support positions that are in fact gravely sinful is in fact scandalous. The Catechism says:
2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." 86 Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing.
When someone who holds these contrary opinions is held up as an appropriate speaker then there appears to be at least some sort of endorsement. That this persons ideas must not be so bad if there is no problem giving them a platform to speak.
On the bright side Cardinal McCarrick has issued a good letter in regards to two bills appearing in the Maryland legislature. Though if these same legislators who are Catholic and vote for ESCR and human cloning appear in front of the Cardinal he would have no problem giving them Communion or allowing them to speak at a Catholic institution. Kind of a mixed message to implore that you vote against these unethical bills, but if you don’t there are zero consequences as a result.