1 - From Cardinal George. As usual, I recommend a full reading. But here are some snips:
Dear friends, like the voice of Christ himself, the message of the Church is always original. The risen Christ does not fit into any of our normal categories of understanding and, often, neither does the voice of his Church. It should not surprise Catholics anywhere in the world that the Church therefore never perfectly fits in any political or social or economic order. The Church is always more. As catholic, the Church speaks for the whole human race from within particular societies, cultures and countries that are always less than universal. Her moral and social teachings come from a source bigger than any financial or political or cultural order we can imagine. This is both disquieting and comforting, as is the Risen Lord himself.
I wish those who try to put the Catholic Church into a political box would frequently read those words.
This address was made to the Knights of Columbus and he continues with this wonderful teaching on unity. Emphasis is added:
Our unity is a fraternal unity, but it is always grounded in the unity of the Church that is Christ’s gift to us. Holding everyone and everything together in unity is another way of saying “Catholic.” Unity with God is sanctity. Unity with believers in Christ is called ecclesial communion, church. Unity among bishops is called collegiality. Unity between husband and wife for the sake of their children is called family. Unity with fellow citizens who love a common homeland is called patriotism. Unity with those with whom we share similar values is called fraternity, friendship.AMEN!
A Catholic way of life is unified as a way of life when it is based on assent to revealed truth and on obedience to appointed pastors, both of which together create the unity of faith and of community that Jesus himself wishes us to enjoy. The Church’s unity today is severely strained, as we all know, and alternative Catholicisms are claiming authenticity even sometimes against the Holy Father and bishops. Even Bishops and priests have sometimes been less than worthy of their calling, and lay groups have sometimes come together to create a Church in their image and likeness rather than Christ’s. Political interference in many countries, including our own, and the hostility of some in the media and entertainment industries, the self-righteousness of some on both the right and the left, various pressure groups with their own agendas, have created a situation full of danger for the Church’s unity, a situation the bishops now want to explicitly address in this country. How to stitch up the Church where her unity is torn, how to use the authority given by Christ to the apostles without wounding the faithful who are already hurting is a project that begins with the bishops’ own submission to Christ and our own self-examination in the light of God’s word that lasts forever.
2 - Then Bishop Morlino's great comments on Ted Kennedy and the 2 conscience approach to life. More snips, with emphasis:
Senator Kennedy, a good number of years ago, convened a meeting of priests and very high-level theologians to address the issue of Catholic political leaders and their votes with regard to abortion. Obviously, the very convening of this meeting showed that he took his Catholicism seriously and did not consider himself to be an accomplished theologian. Sadly, that meeting simply became another occasion for the development by theologians of the “two-conscience” approach to the faith for Catholic political leaders — that is the approach which says, “privately I’m opposed to abortion, but in the public arena there are other conflicting responsibilities which allow me to vote in favor of legal abortion.”Something all of us could do more of - think the best of others.
No matter how many theologians get together, the two-conscience theory is irreparably flawed and wrong, and no one can make it otherwise. But if Senator Kennedy was given this advice and this approach, this “catechesis” — false though it is — by prominent theologians, it could at least be said that there was some ground for confusion and ambiguity in his own practice about these matters. The priests and theologians who counseled Senator Kennedy are not free of blame for causing the confusion and the ambiguity through false catechesis.
God forbid that I be taken as making excuses for Teddy Kennedy’s behavior in certain areas, yet Senator Kennedy’s having written a personal letter to our Holy Father during his last days, a letter that was hand-delivered by President Obama, is also an indication that he believed that the pope alone was the Vicar of Christ, and he wanted to make absolutely sure that our Holy Father received his letter. And too, since priests were regularly present to him during his final year and final days, it would be more reasonable than not to believe that he had made a good confession.
Tip o' the hat to Rocco for both stories.