|May 26, 2005||
Vol. 2, No. 20
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President praises Benedict XVI,
By Joe Feuerherd
The second annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast celebrated the presidency of George W. Bush, the papacy of Benedict XVI, the legacy of John Paul II, and the take-few-prisoners approach of a Colorado archbishop some in the crowded hotel ballroom hope one day soon will wear a red hat in the nation's capital.
McCarrick turns 75 July 8. That's the age at which bishops are required to submit their resignations to the pope.
Bush deserves praise for his "unflinching devotion to the culture of life" and for removing "the stranglehold of tyrants around the world," prayer breakfast board member and Republican National Committee Catholic liaison head Leonard Leo said in introducing the president. (A smattering of peace activists, gathered outside the hotel, disagreed, saying Bush was not worthy of the honor of speaking at a Catholic event.)
The president, a Methodist, was enthusiastically greeted by the 1,600 attendees. He set the tone at the early morning May 20 event. Freedom, said Bush, "rests on the self-evident truths about human dignity." He continued, "Pope Benedict XVI recently warned that when we forget these truths, we risk sliding into a dictatorship of relativism where we can no longer defend our values. Catholics and non-Catholics alike can take heart in the man who sits on the chair of St. Peter, because he speaks with affection about the American model of liberty rooted in moral conviction."
How those moral convictions get played out in the political realm was Chaput's topic. It's a familiar theme for the archbishop. Last year, Chaput wrote: "Candidates who claim to be 'Catholic' but who publicly ignore Catholic teaching about the sanctity of human life are offering a dishonest public witness. They may try to look Catholic and sound Catholic, but unless they act Catholic in their public service and political choices, they're really a very different kind of creature." And, he concluded, "Real Catholics should vote accordingly."
Said Chaput: "Christ's relationship with each of us as individuals and all of us as the believing Catholic community should be the driving force of our personal lives and for all of our public witness -- including our political witness."
He continued, "In renewing ourselves in our faith, what Catholics need to change most urgently is the habit and rhetoric of cowardice we find in our own personal lives, in our national political life, and sometimes even within the church herself."
Connect the dots: Catholics who disagree with Chaput's interpretation of the obligations of Catholics in civic life -- Catholics who agree with McCarrick that Communion should not be a political weapon -- are moral cowards. Tough rhetoric, even by Washington standards.
John Paul II allowed many bishops to serve well beyond their 75th birthdays.
How quickly Benedict XVI accepts McCarrick's resignation could be a sign of how the new pope intends to rule; who he appoints to succeed McCarrick could be an even bigger one.
The e-mail address for Joe Feuerherd is
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