The Picture of Ted McCarrick
So what does Uncle Ted do to celebrate? Talk to the press, of course -- and not just the DC writers, but even a columnist for the paper of record in his old stomping grounds, The (Newark) Star-Ledger.
Say what you will, but nobody approaches the man when it comes to doing the work of an evangelist.
"Most people my age are dead," he says. "I'm 75. Sometimes I feel like the portrait [sic] of Dorian Gray" -- a reference to the Oscar Wilde story of a man who remained young-looking while his face on a portrait drastically aged.And because he's the best at what he does. Case in point: Did Barbara Walters seek Bishop Bruskewicz's thoughts on Heaven? In a word: Noooooooooo. That'd be like turning down Elvis for Jessica Simpson. But I digress.
And, he said earlier this year, he is ready to retire. But the Vatican exempted him from the mandatory retirement age so he could continue, not only his work in Washington, but also in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast and in China, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America.
He somehow manages to take positions that, while grounded in mainstream Catholic doctrine, reflect an understanding of more liberal views. McCarrick says it is essential to be "understanding and compassionate as well as strong."That's the whole thing: According to the authoritiative St. Blog's Magisterium, you don't talk to them -- you beat them over the head with whips and chains and tell them that they're horrible people, that their children will burn in hell and that Jesus hates them more than anyone else, all the while taking Catholicism to a viking funeral and making a pro-life agenda even less attainable as 99% of policy-makers have either been excommunicated or, best-case scenario, simply disgusted and appalled.
The cardinal provoked the anger of some in the Catholic hierarchy when he met during the 2004 campaign with Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, a Catholic who supports abortion rights. Unlike other prelates, including his replacement in Newark, Archbishop John Myers, he refused to say such politicians should be denied communion, saying he was not going to have a "political confrontation at the altar railing."
"Of course, I talked with [Kerry] and others," he said. "How do you change minds without talking to them?"
If said strategy doesn't reek of genius, I don't know what does.
When some Catholic leaders questioned the church's long-standing support of the study of evolution, McCarrick said Catholics could believe in evolution as long as they recognize "the guiding hand of God."Intelligent design = Evangelo-Catholic fund-raising tactic for purposes of Cultural War.
"If the Lord wished to develop the human race through evolution, He has the power to do that," said McCarrick.
He pointedly, however, refused to say he supported "intelligent design," often thought to be a cover for the reintroduction of creationism. "I'm not sure what intelligent design means," he said. "I'll just say I support Catholic doctrine."
McCarrick's position as the head of the church in the center of American power and politics has made him a far more visible prelate than he was in Newark, a much larger diocese. He travels frequently -- saying Mass to the faithful in China, meeting with Islamic religious leaders in Tehran -- travels "too frequently," he says.And, as the Right loves saying over and over again, mass ordinations are the key indicator of a local church's health and orthodoxy.
Yet, when asked -- the first question he was asked -- what was the highlight of his nearly five years as Washington's cardinal, he didn't mention all his national duties or his ability to vote for the new Pope or his meetings with the President of the United States.
He spoke about how happy he was to be about to ordain 12 new priests.
"That's the largest ordination class we have had in 37 years," he said.
Because, he is, he says, in the end, a bishop, a pastor, a shepherd for his flock.
Oh, come now: Just suck up your ego and give the Good Cardinal his due; God knows he's earned it.