O'Malley and Muzzled Candor

by Ken Briggs

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Cardinal O'Malley may be the best of the princely lot, and he occupied the reserved cardinal guest shot on 60 minutes with much aplomb, but he's only as good as his loyalty to the code will take him.

On church strategy, he can exercise a degree of freedom. There's no advantage any longer pretending that the attack on women religious wasn't a disaster, so it's okay to question the action as an inquisitional flop by far distant Vatican operatives who are now out of favor. But give him credit for a little candor. The next question should have been: "Since you think it was a disaster, what have you done to reverse or nullify the punishment?" Chances are that would have been a tough one

On church law, however, O'Malley shows far less ability to say what he might choose. He deserves high marks for doing the best with a bad situation, but still. If he had been in Jesus' shoes, women would be consecrating the host, however that's not how the Master designed the priesthood (does this imply Jesus made a mistake?) so that's that. Then he  rattles off the usual separate-but-equal rationalizations which, after his previous statement, seems nowhere near what he actually thinks. And back to the first issue for a moment. If he does think the investigation of women was a disaster, would he fight against it? Has he?

Regarding ordination, O'Malley's response indicates either ignorance of the theological arguments in favor of including women, including those advanced by those renegade Protestants with which I identify, or the wholesale rejection of them as apostate conjectures. One hopes that he and the rest are not totally locked in to the One True Theology, but I'm afraid it's a sign of the shredded state of ecumenical relations. Perhaps O'Malley does take broader theological views seriously, but so long as he's in harness, even he, a jolly good fellow, can only manage a small degree of candor.

Still, it's far more pleasant and encouraging to have Boston's cardinal in that reserved seat rather than his college mate down the street in New York. At least we know where the titular baton has been passed.

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