Sunday, October 24, 2004

Fr. Neuhaus on the Kerry Scandal and the Bishop's Conference

Two must-reads: "Communion & Communio, etc." and "Bishops at a Turning Point" (First Things 145 August/Sept '04 and 146 October 2004.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus looks at the Kerry communion scandal and provides an excellent recap of the Bishop's Conference in Denver in June 2004, including Fr. Neuhaus' thoughts on Ratzinger's letter to Cardinal McCarrick and the latter's failure to disclose the complete contents and intent of the letter to the bishops:

. . . The Ratzinger letter and how McCarrick used it is the subject of lively discussion. No bishop wanted to say that McCarrick "misrepresented" Ratzinger’s message but, as one put it, "The charitable thing to say is that he did not tell us the whole truth." It appears, although it is not certain, that the letter was sent only to McCarrick and the papal nuncio, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, who was, of course, present at the meeting. At least a few bishops, however, were apprised of the full text and were less than pleased with McCarrick’s presentation of what Ratzinger had to say. When the full text was later made public, first in an Italian newspaper, McCarrick suggested to the press that there were other communications with Ratzinger that put the letter in context, justifying the interpretation he had offered the bishops. Back at the June meeting, the bishops had, despite McCarrick’s resistance, made up their minds. There needed to be a clear and firm statement that unmistakably underscored the utterly distinctive status of abortion and euthanasia in Catholic teaching, and that approved, but did not mandate, specific pastoral approaches, including the denial of Communion to the obdurate.

Fr. Neuhaus also seems to be very impressed with the "new generation" of bishops in the American Catholic Church -- among them Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Archbishop John Myers of Newark, and others who have stood to criticize Senator Kerry's misrepresentation of the Catholic faith.

Reasons to hope.

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