Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s defense of his decision to preside at Sen. Kennedy’s funeral is notable on a number of grounds, but above all as an articulation of what is emerging as the public stance of the moderate wing of the American hierarchy–as opposed to the right-wing Burke-Chaput axis. The message is that yes, of course, we will advocate for the church’s life issues, but not in a way that casts those who disagree into outer darkness:
At times, even in the Church, zeal can lead people to issue harsh
judgments and impute the worst motives to one another. These attitudes
and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church. If
any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness, it will be
doomed to marginalization and failure. Jesus’ words to us were that we
must love one another as He loves us. Jesus loves us while we are
still in sin. He loves each of us first, and He loves us to the end. Our ability to change people’s hearts and help them to grasp the
dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to
the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to
increase love and unity in the Church, for our proclamation of the
Truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other.
There can be little question that O’Malley means to include some of his fellow bishops among those doing “irreparable damage to the communion of the Church.” In this, he should be seen as joining Santa Fe Archbishop Michael Sheehan, who last month directly criticized the combativeness of “a minority” of the episcopate. With the presumptively forced resignation this week of hyper-combative Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino, it’s evident that that the Vatican is putting its thumb on the moderate side of the scale. So who will be next to step up? Yo, Dolan!
Update: Nope, it’s Madison, Wisc. Bishop Robert C. Morlino.