Showdown in Steel City
In interviews, McCarrick and Neuhaus gave differing assessments of a proposal by Bishop Donald Wuerl of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh regarding the public differences some bishops had in 2004 over whether to deny communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Wuerl called for all U.S. bishops to consult with each other before taking public stands on the Catholic status of national political figures who support abortion rights.
Wuerl's proposal "is right on target," said McCarrick, who shares Wuerl's view that Catholic legislators who support abortion rights should not ask to receive communion, but that the priest should not refuse it if they do come forward, on the chance that they might have had a conversion. McCarrick expected Wuerl's proposal to receive significant discussion among the bishops.
Neuhaus praised the dozen or so bishops who would not allow Kerry to receive communion, but said that is not the only way to handle the problem.
"The bishop has to show in each and every case that he is in a very serious posture of pastoral care and concern for that politician -- and that has to be seen by the Catholic people. When something is a public scandal, it has to be remedied publicly, but there are many different ways in which bishops might exercise that pastoral care and concern," Neuhaus said.
As one speaker here is a bishop and the other most certainly isn't, the episcopal statement gets more credence because of the authority on which it rests.
Catholic groups, on both the left and the right, that claim to speak for the church but distort its teaching are not helpful, McCarrick said. He urged Catholics to study official church documents, rather than only interpretations in the media and by advocacy groups.
In reply to a question from the audience about priests who made it sound as if it were a sin to vote for Kerry in 2004, [McCarrick] said that the Vatican clearly stated that it was acceptable to vote for a candidate who happened to support abortion, as long as that wasn't the reason for casting the vote.I can hear the distortions of this statement a-comin'....