Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Steel City, Steel Circle

So, lest anyone's wondering how the archbishop of Washington'll deal with the capital's incoming crop, Don Wuerl's homily from today's CBK funeral might well go a long way toward answering the question.

Its fullvideo already posted, the DC prelate's 20 minute preach offers a significant glimpse into his mind on the qualities that define a true public servant.

Having served two decades as his hometown's 11th bishop, today's rites marked the second time since his 2006 appointment to the capital that the archbishop's returned to his "first love" to help lead the sendoff for a Steel City Dem; months after arriving in Washington, Wuerl went home to preside at the funeral of then-Mayor Bob O'Connor, a close personal friend whose son he ordained to the priesthood.

At today's liturgy, the Rosary given the late Lieutenant Governor by Pope John Paul II -- who she referred to even in her state-issued press releases as "The Great" -- topped her coffin, and a photo of the 2003 bacimano was put on the cover of the worship aids.

While political differences were laid aside at the cathedral altar (where even the intercession-readers were bipartisan), in one of your stranger coincidences of timing the National Catholic Reporter published a piece earlier today by another lay don of the Pittsburgh church -- the former Duquesne law dean and chair of the USCCB's sex-abuse review board Nick Cafardi -- blasting what the author termed the "Republican captivity" of Stateside Catholicism.

Away from the political fray, however, following his stint overseeing the diocesan efforts to restore trust amid the outbreak of the scandals, Cafardi (whose widely-publicized endorsement of the Democratic ticket was met by a fierce blowback from church conservatives) released a canonical treatise on the ecclesial response "before Dallas"... which work he dedicated to one person: Donald Wuerl -- who, he wrote, "did the right thing at the right time."

In a nutshell, this is Pittsburgh -- everything and everyone is melded into one big circle... and, more than anything else, that's what the now-archbishop brings back with him to a capital in transition and its challenging waters that lie just ahead.