Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Cardinal Got Lei'd: The Ted Bids Farewell

It was all smiles today at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception as Cardinal Theodore McCarrick celebrated his farewell liturgy as archbishop of Washington.

The event was billed not so much as a farewell, but a Mass of Thanksgiving, and the cardinal stuck to the script, telling the crowd that, "This is a Mass of Thanksgiving, because I want to say thanks to you and to thank God for the gift of all of you."

In his second liturgy of this Corpus Christi Sunday -- McCarrick shocked the parish by surfacing as celebrant of the 10am Mass at St Matthew's Cathedral -- the departing DC prelate preached not about the accomplishments of his stewardship, but of the Eucharist, as he invited the capacity congregation to "'Come join me, let me take you to the upper room'" according to a source present.

"His final admonition was to pray without ceasing."

At the cathedral's midmorning Mass, parishioners were seen weeping as McCarrick wistfully noted the end of his last Eucharist from the chair he has held since the beginning of 2001.

In a foretaste of the Thursday installation of Archbishop-elect Donald Wuerl, a contingent of hierarchy were present to pay tribute to the retiring cardinal: Bishops John Smith of Trenton, Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington and Paul Loverde of Arlington served as concelebrants alongside Cardinal William Wakefield Baum, the second archbishop of Washington and retired Major Penitentiary of the Roman church. (Smith and Saltarelli both served as auxiliary bishops of Newark under then-Archbishop McCarrick before heading to their own dioceses.) "Loads of nuns" and DC Mayor Anthony Williams were also in attendance, and a throng of media showed up.

And, yes, the cardinal was stopped in the recessional by a religious woman who draped a lei over his mitre and shoulders.