The Archbishop of Washington DC is now a Cardinal. Oh good.

Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington DC, has recently been elevated to the rank of Cardinal. I didn’t realize his ascension through the ecclesiastical ranks would be as big a story as it has been, but there has been no shortage of ink spent on it and Wuerl’s life.

He took the Pope to the National's stadium? Really?

I’ve been aware of Wuerl for quite some time, as he is a Pittsburgh native and formally the Archbishop of Pittsburgh. He is considered to be theologically conservative, which is a nice way of saying he is stuck in the 15th century. Lost in the uniformity and generally flattering articles written about the man are a few of his more egregious moments:

  • He supports determining whether a pro-choice Catholic politician should be denied Communion on an individual basis. While this is considerably more progressive than some of his counterparts that wish to deny communion to any pro-choice politician, please note he says nothing about denying pro-death penalty politicians. According to the church, these “sins” are equal.
  • He was quoted as saying: “The Catholic Church … holds that ordination has been, from the beginning, reserved to men, a fact which cannot be changed despite changing times”.  So according to him, the church is not supposed to change even though everything else we know or think is subject to reevaluation?
  • When DC was debating same sex marriage, Wuerl issued a particularly insidious statement  saying Catholic charities would no longer be able to assist in adoptions were this law to pass. While clearly an ultimatum, he backed off the statement slightly, only to end spousal benefits for employees of Catholic charities after the city legalized same-sex marriages.

None of this should come as a surprise as the current Pontiff is about as reactionary as we can possibly imagine — and would stand to reason he’d elevate similarly backward members.

Bernard Law -- should be in jail

It should be noted though that Wuerl has been critical of the church’s handling of priests that engaged in child rape. He even successfully lobbied against reinstating a priest that allegedly tortured children in his care. While compared to the evil and criminal Bernard Law, Weurl certainly seems like an enlightened choice. But wasn’t his reaction exactly what any of us would do? Can you imagine a school teacher not protesting to his superiors over the recent hiring of a known pederast? This just strikes me as basic decency and sanity over Wuerl having some sort of intrinsic wisdom.

I am not a Roman Catholic, so I could be missing something here — but I simply do not understand why this man deserves such adulation. I honestly invite the faithful to let me know in the comments — especially my many liberal Catholic friends out there.


5 thoughts on “The Archbishop of Washington DC is now a Cardinal. Oh good.

  1. Having been raised Catholic in a rather large Irish Catholic family and having a priest for an uncle, it’s totally clear to me why he’s been elevated. The simple reason is that he represents the Catholic Church as it is today – for good or bad. In fact, he’s even been accused in the past has having been too liberal, specifically, after allowing then presidential candidate, John Kerry, to receive Communion. As much as many people would like to see the Catholic Church change, blind faith does crazy things to people, and until God tells the Pope to make a change, agnosticism is a breeding ground for former Catholics.

  2. i have to wonder if it’s because of stuff like this that most of the people i know who grew up catholic now hate religion with a passion unparalleled.

  3. Yep. It is. I was raised Catholic and hated the church for many years.

    Fortunately for us non-agnostics, there is an alternative, though not a popular one in Rome’s view. It’s called becoming Protestant. I’ve ultimately arrived at the conclusion that hatred is counter to the Christian life in addition to being psychologically no good for anyone. The church, any church, not just the Catholic one, is a sad and hypocritical place at times, and as a human institution will unlikely become perfect in my lifetime. That’s not actually God’s fault and though I’ll spare you the complicated theological arguments, doesn’t really affect my faith any more. The good news is that there are churches where one can love God, love others and serve the world in peace and that don’t require Biblically mandated hatred or manipulation to ensure salvation.

    By the way, Spy, I love your blog. Keep up the good (and highly amusing) work.

  4. @magnolia, in answer to your wonderment, yes. OK, OK, I can only speak for my severely lapsed Catholic self, but um, yeah, on the long list of reasons that I consider myself an agnostic-atheist hybrid, this post is pretty near the top.

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