Ad Limina Apostolorum (Blog) | St. Augustine's Library
Monday, June 28, 2004

Clarification on 'Catholics in Political Life' 

I've posted once or twice this week on the USCCB statement on 'Catholics in Political Life.' The message on a whole seemed confused and uneven to me, even self-contradictory at points. I was over in Catholic Analysis this afternoon and it suddenly became clear, and I don't know why I didn't notice it before.

All of positions I liked, or at least found agreeable, were in the official statement itself.
All of the positions I didn't like, or just found disagreeable, were in the Task Force's 'Reflections.'

Why is this relevant? Because, as Oswald points out, the former is the only one which has any authority. (Well, putting aside for the moment the question of whether the USCCB has any real authority at all, other than a general 'moral' authority). The latter is only a collection of 'reflections,' which lack even the pseudo-authority of the USCCB, and are simply the unambiguous 'reflections' of a couple of theologians.

More importantly, apart from the question of authority, is the question of whose opinions stand behind the statements. The former, the official statement, regardless of its authority or lack thereof, bears behind it the collective weight of the full body of American bishops, who voted overwhelmingly to approve this document. The latter is the opinion of one man, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and a couple of his buddies (no disrespect intended; simply a statement of fact), which were presented to this full body of bishops before the official statement was produced, in order to push them in a particular direction. Now that the dust has settled, and it hardly requires pointing out that the official statement is vastly different from McCarrick's reflections, it becomes all too clear that the full body of bishops has in fact rejected McCarrick's proposals. Not too draw the line too sharply, it's not a difference of black and white, but it is a difference -- McCarrick clearly advised, in no uncertain terms, against the denial of communion; the official statement left this option wide open. In short, the fully body of U.S. bishops seem not to have bought the McCarrick line.

The USCCB's publishing of the Task Force reflections after the official statement, and on the same webpage, confused matters horribly. We now have several contradictory statements, without any clear consensus. But once we look at things in this way, chronologically, we can see that the official statement has entirely supplanted the reflections, which were only intended to guide the formation of the latter, a task at which they seem to have utterly failed to do.

Perhaps I'm just reading way too much into this. But in any case, I suddenly find myself in a far better mood than I was this morning.

# posted by Jamie : 2:11 PM


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Ad Limina Apostolorum: An ecclesiastical term meaning a pilgrimage to the sepulchres of St. Peter and St. Paul at Rome, i.e., to the Basilica of the Prince of the Apostles and to the Basilica of St. Paul "outside the walls".

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