The Cardinal in the Public Square
Ever since he was the shock choice to succeed Bernardin (who is still being villified a decade after his death by some kookie-kookies with too much time and anger on their hands), Fran has of course been the head of the nation's second-largest diocese with a major bully pulpit. But now, as the de facto head of the USCCB (don't let that pesky "vice-" prefix fool you) and The Pope's Man in America, the church he wants to see is the church that US Catholics will see -- and Rome will not put up a fight.
So of particular interest are George's recent comments on politicians and their religious identity, something the good cardinal can speak about with the secular cred of an academic with a sterling background in social psychology. (As an aside, he preached about George Herbert Mead -- the founder of the discipline -- in his installation homily.)
The column, bearing the attention-grabbing title, "A Lenin in America, 2005" is reprinted in today's Denver Catholic Register. The following paragraph particularly struck me.
It strikes me that our approach to pluralism in race and culture furnishes the paradigm for approaching religion in public life. If someone suggested that an African-American had to keep his race confined to his house and wear white face in public, the suggestion would be immediately condemned as racist and bigoted. A healthy public life welcomes diversity in public and then figures out ways to share differences among peoples so as to enrich everyone. The question of religion is more complicated, of course, because religion is a way of life with moral demands, and moral demands overlap with law and politics. But the solution is not to put religion in a private closet, because that imperils the freedom of everyone. American “separation” of church and state is supposed to encourage the practice of religion as part of the common good, respecting every difference and oppressing none.Comments, anyone?