Controversy Heats up over Cardinal McCarrick Downplaying Vatican Direction on Communion
WASHINGTON, July 7, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com) - With the release of the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger stating Communion must be denied to obstinately pro-abortion Catholic politicians, Cardinal McCarrick’s report on the letter given at the U.S. Bishops Meeting last month has come under fire. LifeSiteNews.com pointed out the discrepancy between Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter and Cardinal McCarrick’s presentation of that letter in a July 5 article. On July 6 a Washington Times headline read “McCarrick tempered letter on pro-choice politicians.” Times reporter Julia Duin reports that McCarrick “downplayed” the Vatican Cardinal’s letter which she noted “contains much stronger language than Cardinal McCarrick used.” Duin notes that McCarrick used “nuanced speech” in presenting the Ratzinger letter even though “as the chairman of a task force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, it was his job to convey what Vatican officials had told him during meetings in Rome.” The key point in the controversy is that Cardinal Ratzinger said that pro-abortion politicians, who will not alter their stand or abstain from communion after being instructed by church leaders, “must” be refused communion. McCarrick never presented Ratzinger’s intervention as one which indicated the refusal of communion to be mandatory under any such circumstances. Rather McCarrick went to great lengths to present the denial of communion as optional.
The Times quotes internationally respected U.S. Catholic theologian Michael Novak saying, “Ratzinger’s letter was stronger and firmer than we were led to believe. It’s pretty dynamite stuff.” Duin reports that Novak heard of “dissatisfaction” in Rome over how Cardinal McCarrick was representing the church’s teachings. “I had heard Rome was much tougher than Cardinal McCarrick was letting on,” he said. “Some people in the Vatican were upset that McCarrick was putting on too kind a face on it.”
The Times also quotes former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Raymond Flynn on why North American bishops often water down Vatican statements. “The American church has been reluctant to speak out forcefully on a lot of these issues, whereas Pope John Paul II has instructed the Catholic Church to be more assertive,” said Flynn. “A lot of these American bishops aren’t willing to get involved because of the backlash, because it’s not politically correct, and the criticism they will receive from the liberal media,” he said. Reacting to the controversy over the discrepancy, Cardinal McCarrick said through spokesman Susan Gibbs that the leaked Ratzinger letter “may represent an incomplete and partial leak of a private communication from Cardinal Ratzinger and it may not accurately reflect the full message I received.” He added, “Our task force’s dialogue with the Holy See on these matters has been extensive, in person, by phone and in writing.” However, as LifeSiteNews.com pointed out on July 5, the current incident is the second time Cardinal McCarrick seems to have contradicted the Vatican over the issue of denying communion.
In April, the Vatican’s leading prelate on the Sacraments, Cardinal Francis Arinze, declared unequivocally that unambiguously pro-abortion politicians should be denied Holy Communion. Cardinal Arinze said such a politician “is not fit” to receive Communion. “If they should not receive, then they should not be given,” he said. Cardinal McCarrick reacted to Cardinal Arinze’s statements by suggesting that Arinze did not really mean what he said. Speaking with the National Catholic Reporter, McCarrick said of Cardinal Arinze, “I don’t think it was his eminence’s official opinion . . . The cardinal’s position . . . was that . . . the United States should figure out what they ought to do.”
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage: Highest Authorities in Vatican Back Denial of Communion to Pro-Abortion Politicians https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2004/jul/04070501.html
See the Washington Times coverage: http://www.washtimes.com/national/20040707-122623-1092r.htm See the Catholic News Service report on Cardinal McCarrick’s reaction to the leaked letter: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0403723.htm jhw