John Kerry yesterday met with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, D.C. Contrary to the drift of media reports, it was Kerry, not the cardinal, who initiated the meeting. “The senator had asked to meet with the cardinal,” explained archdiocesan spokeswoman Susan Gibbs to TAS.
Kerry, sizing up McCarrick as a genial liberal bishop willing to accommodate his renegade Catholicism, originally invited the cardinal over to his house. But Kerry ended up meeting the cardinal at the archdiocesan pastoral center, as that proved more convenient for Kerry after a speech he had given at nearby Howard University.
Kerry’s requested meeting with McCarrick is part of his bid to compete for the Catholic vote. On Easter Sunday Kerry received a pat on the head from the liberal Paulists. He sought out McCarrick this week in the hopes of shoring up more liberal Catholic support.
Kerry’s visit to McCarrick coincided with a Hill newspaper report that pro-abortion House Democrats are “preparing a ‘Catholic Voting Scorecard’ in an effort to show that Catholic Democratic lawmakers have adhered more closely to the position of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy on key issues than their Catholic Republican counterparts.”
Afraid of losing the Catholic vote, pro-abortion Catholic Democrats are aligning themselves with the “U.S. Catholic hierarchy,” highlighting their support for the liberal politics of the bishops so as to cancel out the growing perception that they are heretics no self-respecting Catholic could vote for. Kerry hopes that McCarrick will serve as a stooge in this scheme to confuse Catholic voters.
The strategy aims at blurring the distinction between official Catholic teaching (where pro-abortion Democrats score O or near O) and political, non-binding, often dubious opinions held by some Catholic bishops (where Democrats score well). McCarrick is useful to Kerry in this regard because he is a cardinal known for his “Labor” masses and general support for liberal economics. Though it is not known what was said between them Thursday, one could imagine Kerry arguing that his support for the bishops’ liberal economic policies should neutralize his disagreement with the Church on abortion and other matters. If Kerry can hide his heresies under the politically liberal Seamless Garment of the McCarricks and Mahonys, he can retain enough of the Catholic vote to win the election.
McCarrick is also important to Kerry because he heads up the bishops’ temporizing task force on Catholic politicians. Kerry needs McCarrick to continue temporizing. As long as the bishops dither, Kerry can continue to hold himself out as a Catholic in good standing and thereby maintain a decent chance at retaining the Catholic vote. Kerry’s got the Garry Wills vote sewn up, but he needs more than just anti-Catholic Catholics to vote for him. He needs mass-going, believing Catholics to vote for him as well. The charade of going to communion even as he is obviously not in communion with Catholic teaching is necessary to get the votes of many of them.
Kerry invited McCarrick to his house for a talk instead of the other way around. This is an apt image of the episcopal confusion and weakness that Kerry is exploiting and hoping to ride to victory. The bishops, with few exceptions, are loath to confront Kerry even though their whole reason for being is to prevent the very scandal to souls his public heretical Catholicism causes.
Before the liberal and libertine revolution in the Church, bishops didn’t need to convene a task force to figure out whether to give communion to public figures not in communion with Church teaching. The matter was obvious. They just followed canon law, which clearly states that bishops have a duty to ensure that the sacrament of communion isn’t abused (whether or not to permit sacrilege isn’t treated as a public relations question in canon law, a point the American bishops still can’t grasp) and that scandal doesn’t spread through doctrinal and disciplinary confusion. McCarrick has said that he is “uncomfortable” using certain sanctions against Kerry. Is comfort now a norm of episcopal action under canon law?
Kerry is banking on the bishops’ passivity and weakness for Democratic politicians who make the right social-justice noises from time to time. But that’s not entirely fair to McCarrick: he is quite bipartisan in his unwillingness to confront politicians who make a mockery of Church teachings. When he was archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, McCarrick lent Christie Whitman the Sacred Heart Cathedral for an inauguration day prayer service. Whitman had won election as a proponent of partial-birth abortion.
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