Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Curious Cardinal

As providence would have it, there was an recently published interview in NCR about the aforementioned Cardinal George whose statement on interreligious dialogue with the Jews leaves us in little doubt that he has a very circumscribed notion of the Church's mission to the world, including the Jews.

John Allen's soft-ball interview leaves some questions unanswered, but does admit a blithe admonition to an indeterminate and perhaps fabled duality in the American Church, those elusive Liberals and Conservatives. Incredibly, the Cardinal accuses the mythical polarity of focusing too much on Bishops, assuming that they have more power than they have and an obligation to correct and on the other hand wishing they didn't have too much power. He admonishes both of these legendary antognists to focus more on Christ, but doesn't fail to relinquish responsibillity for the problems he identifies, feebly, like Catechesis, the sorry state of Catholic Charitable institutes, and Liturgy.

Considering the Cardinal's more recent "clarifications" on Interreligious Dialogue with the Jews, he's talking about himself when he describes Liberals. Wishing he had less authority than he does, perhaps, or still worse, wishing that since, "the conservatives wish to descend into sectarianism" that all of these distinctions between the beliefs of various religions are meant to be ignored. Somehow, our focus on Christ and work among with poor with a leftist missionary organisation like St'Egidio will cause us to forget those petty doctrinal problems and the poor showing so many priests make when it comes to the Liturgy. In all of this, he strikes me as a less potent, understated, and therefore perhaps more dangerous version of his sulferous predecessor, Cardinal Berardin.

What this all amounts to, more than a fawning softball interview by a bootlicking journalist, is the Bishop telling the laity that things will continue basically as they have and that they need to keep giving and obeying.

Moreover, by the end of this interview, I was still in the dark about what His Lordship meant by improving Evangelization. I think he's implying that we need to be less Catholic and more Universalist, that we can leave behind this implausible sectarianism as the dusty relic of a bygone age and other such cliché. Perhaps his "plant" is that there is no plan, or at least not one he's going to tell anyone else.

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