|Cardinal George at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral |
following the installation of Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron
(see my photos of the day here)
Francis Cardinal George's term as USCCB President is coming to an end. Tomorrow, the bishops will elect a new head.
Here is an excerpt of Cardinal George's statement. See full text here.
The second issue is ecclesiological: who speaks for the Catholic Church? We bishops have no illusions about our speaking for everyone who considers himself or herself Catholic; but that is not our job. We speak for the apostolic faith, and those who hold it gather round. We must listen to the sensus fidei, the sense of the faith itself in the lives of our people, but this is different from intellectual trends and public opinion. The faith has its own warrants in Scripture and tradition, and we consult them and listen to the apostolic voices of those who have gone before us as carefully as we must listen to those whom the Lord has given us to govern on our watch, in our day, as they strive to work out their salvation in the midst of contemporary challenges. The bishops in apostolic communion and in union with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, speak for the Church in matters of faith and in moral issues and the laws surrounding them. All the rest is opinion, often well-considered and important opinion that deserves a careful and respectful hearing, but still opinion.
The third issue is practical: how should faithful Catholics approach political issues that are also moral? The debate made clear, to me at least, that, at a certain point, there were those who started with the faith in its integrity and all its demands and fit their political choices into the context of the fullness of the Church’s teaching, and there were those for whom a political choice, even a good choice, was basic and the Church was judged useful by whether or not she provided foot soldiers for their political commitment, whether of the left or the right. For too many, politics is the ultimate horizon of their thinking and acting. As we know, fidelity to Christ in his body the Church calls for two responses on the part of those who would call themselves his disciples: orthodoxy in belief and obedience in practice. In 1990, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger quoted now Blessed John Henry Newman that, “the whole duty and work of a Christian is made up of these two parts, faith and obedience; ‘looking unto Jesus’ (Hebrews 2:9) and acting according to his will.” Orthodoxy is necessary but not enough; the devil is orthodox. He knows the Catechism better than anybody in this room; but he will not serve, he will not obey. There can be mistakes in our thinking, but there can be no self-righteousness in our will, for this is the sin against the Holy Spirit. We should not fear political isolation; the Church has often been isolated in politics and in diplomacy. We need to be deeply concerned, however, about the wound to the Church’s unity that has been inflicted in this debate and I hope, trusting in the good will of all concerned, that means can be found to restore the seamless garment of ecclesial communion.
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