Skip to comments.Should Wuerl be a Cardinal?
Posted on 05/07/2008 8:47:03 AM PDT by Balt
In an article reproduced in the 12:48 PM 4/30/2008 post here, Phil Lawler exposes a patern of behavior on the part of the U. S. bishops in responding to any kind of problem that could have a public relations impact. While some took his article the wrong way -- presuming that he was equating the seriousness of sexual abuse and liturgical abuse -- in reality he was simply pointing out that the bishops seem to have the same way of dealing with any problem; it's just that in most cases -- like liturgical abuse -- this defect of ability impacts innocent people to a lesser degree without ramifications in the secular press; whereas, in a case of sexual abuse, the same response results in shattered and destroyed lives. He concludes his article by saying: "If the sex-abuse crisis was 'sometimes very badly handled' [quoting Pope Benedict] -- not much debate on that -- and if liturgical abuse is now being handled the same way, it's time to recognize that there is an underlying disease."
If there was any doubt that the desease is terminal, there is a new shining example, as reported in CWNews:
Washington, May. 2, 2008 (CWNews.com) - Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, has responded to criticisms about allowing pro-abortion politicians to receive Communion. In a column that appears in this week's edition of the archdiocesan newspaper, Catholic Standard, the archbishop argues that any decision to bar prominent Catholics from receiving the Eucharist should be made by the bishop in their local dioceses. Archbishop Wuerl indicated that he would not bar a politician from receiving Communion unless the bishop of that politician's diocese had taken that step. He explained that he has "always respected the role of the local Church and the ministry of the individual bishop as shepherd of the Church entrusted to his care."
If you watched the Pope on TV recently, you'll recognize Arbishop Wuerl as the bishop clinging to the Holy Father's arm with that plastic, ear-to-ear smile on his face. Your PP touched on the "Wuerl problem" over a year ago, in the 1/24/07 post about a bishop in Grand Rapids who had received reams of compaints about a pedophile priest, but who was paralized into inactivity until someone gave him a "norm" on paper that he could follow. That post concluded with this zinger:
In the mean time, I just read another news story where a reporter asked the new Archbishop of Washington whether he would instruct his priests to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion. His response: No. Thats a different style of pastoral ministry. O.K., so maybe its unfair to expect him to be the Apostle Paul; at least he has a sense of style.
And in this sense, Wuerl is a perfect icon of the hierarchy of the Latin Church in America. He is like water flowing down a country brook, always searching out and finding the path of least resistance. One Catholic commentator gave a name to the phenomenon, describing such men as "tames," the kind of men whose dander is only roused when they are desparate to find a way to obviscate any personal responsibility, who would refrain from whiping their asses until they received instructions from higher authority regrading exactly how many sheets should be used, who would gladly put their names to a press release denouncing St. Athenasius for not being a team player.
Several years ago, your PP sat in a room full of priests listening to his [then] bishop report on his ad limina visit to the Holy Father, and how the Pope had cautioned the bishops to be vigilant against abuses in the use of extraodinary ministers to distribute Holy Communion. The bishop then gave a deep sigh, then said, "But, once again, the Holy Father did not give us any clear indication of what exactly he wanted us to do." I remember thinking to myself, "The Pope isn't going to tell you how long the Masses should be in your diocese; he's expecting you to exersise some leadership yourself." But this is precisely what the bishops are not able to do. It would require them to make a decision, and require them to take the heat for it. See, if the Pope had said, "You can only allow lay people to give out Communion if the Mass would otherwise be longer than one and a half hours," then the bishop would have no problem obeying; he could deflect complaints by saying he has no choice in the matter because the decision was made for him. But to act on his own based on a principle? That's just too damn much to ask.
Back to Arch-Tame Wuerl: his argument for not baring pro-death politicians from Communion is based on a smoke-screen. He's claiming that the decision to bar anyone from Holy Communion is the responsibility of the person's own local bishop; and, since the members of congress actually come from other dioceses, he is not authorized to make this decision regarding them; hence, his line above about respecting the role of the local Church and the ministry of the individual bishop. What His Tame-ness is forgetting is that Canon Law recognizes the authority of a bishop over those who, while they may not live in his diocese, are present in it for three months or more. Are we to presume, otherwise, that if a member of congress wanted to get married in one of Wuerl's churches and needed a dispensation, Wuerl would deny it to him on the grounds that he [Wuerl] is not that person's proper bishop? Certainly not. According to Canon Law, so long as someone -- anyone -- is living within the boundries of his diocese, Wurel is his bishop, albeit without prejudice to the bishop where the person has a home.
By ignoring Canon Law, Wuerl is looking for a public relations "out." If, for example, the Archbishop of Boston were to send him a letter saying that he does not want Ted Kennedy receiving Holy Communion, Wuerl would have no problem with instructing his priests to refuse the senator; this way, were someone to shove a microphone in his face and ask him about it, he could say, "It has nothing to do with me." It's not that he has a problem with human life issues or Church teaching; he just doesn't what the onus to be on him. He's a Tame.
The good news -- if you want to call it that -- is that, if a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington did refuse someone Holy Communion, and that person wrote to Wuerl to complain about it, Wuerl would probably reprimand the priest about causing "bad press," but would do no more. One presumes that, if a priest has the courage to stand up for Church teaching by publically refusing someone the Sacrament, he would also have the onions to threaten to appeal any canonical action taken against him to the Congregation for Clergy, which would cause Wuerl to pull his head back into his shell like any frightened turtle. The one good thing about Tames is that they're well practiced at backing down. In the article cited above, Wuerl refused to say what he would do if a pro-death politician who actually does live full time in his diocese were to approach for Holy Communion. My, what a surprise! Then the Code of Canon Law would come down from the shelf as he frantically searched for some obtuse way to make this someone else's decision.
In his Catholic Standard column Archbishop Wuerl cited the policy approved by the US bishops' conference in 2004, leaving the question to the discretion of individual bishops, to be decided on a diocese-by-diocese basis. That approach drew some criticism during the papal trip from Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who indicated his uneasiness about what he called "territorial morality."
Well, at least someone is recognizing the root issue here. What happens to unborn children is not a queston of "policy." Neither is how a successor to the Apostles should respond to the issue. Neither will you find etched on the head-stone of St. John Cardinal Fisher: "He got along with everyone and no one had a bad word to say about him." And if Pope Benedict makes Wuerl a Cardinal as expected just because he's Archbishop of Washington, it will be a monumental mistake.
by Priestly Pugilist
I don't like Levada much, but maybe he's improved - and his way of summing this up is certainly excellent!
Should the archbishop of DC be a Cardinal? Heavens, no!
Not unless he starts to act like one.
How about I nominate Archbishop Raymond Burke instead?
Would that count?
Well, I might call it encouraging, but I wouldn't go so far as the call his comment excellent. Certainly the characterization of it -- as "territorial morality" -- is good, but it would have been better if, instead of saying he was "uneasy" about it, he had issued some sort of instruction saying it was wrong and requiring a retraction. But I think he's a Tame, too.
Seems to sum up way too much of the USCCB!
“Should Wuerl be a Cardinal?”
Whether or not he should, if he is still Archbishop of Washington for some time after July, 2010, he will be.
Should Wuerl be a Cardinal?
Based on his performance.......no.
Should the metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Washington be a Cardinal....hold that question for a minute...
Should Washington be the seat of a metropolitan archdiocese? No. The concept is ridiculous. There is ONE suffragen diocese: the diocese of St. Thomas, USVI. (What’s up with that???)
The Archdiocese of Washington should be a suffragen diocese to the metropolitan of Baltimore. IMHO.
Having said that, there should be ONE primate to cover the province of the USA. That one primate should be located in Baltimore (the mother diocese of the country)...and all metropolitans in the country should be aligned under that one primate...who is appointed by the Holy Father.
This concept of collegiality that they have in the USCCB, appointing their own “head,” is unworkable and is, as much as anything else, a cause for the chaos that is going on in the Church in this country. About as constructive as herding cats.
(BTW, my statement that Baltimore should be the See of the “Primate” of the USA has nothing to do with O’Brien’s qualifications one way or the other...it is just an acknowledgement of the historical significance of that See)
Agreed. I was born in Baltimore, but grew up in Bethesda outside of Washington. At that time, the Washington area was in the Baltimore Archdiocese (which dates me, I guess). The artificial creation of a metropolitan province by attaching the Virgin Islands diocese to it was pure politics. When I first entered the seminary, even though Washington was already an Archdiocese, it was very much a small town diocese (and, in many respects, remains so in reality).