It's all over the Catholic blogosphere by now, and you're all hanging by a thread waiting for my personal spin on it. But first, the story:
In a talk last week in a small chapel on Washington's K Street, the heart of the lobbying community, Archbishop Wuerl distinguished between doing nothing and teaching.
He had said Mass for an overflow crowd, most of which stayed for his talk on a renewed openness to Catholic teaching that he said he sees among young people.
When he took questions, a woman asked how be would respond to Catholic politicians who support legal abortion.
His response was "teach."
"That is what Jesus did," he said. "Did everyone accept that teaching? No.... But he didn't stop teaching. We are in this for the long haul."
He noted that he sometimes gets letters from Catholics demanding to know what he will do about such situations.
Let's take a break for a moment. Earlier this month, the Discalced Yooper gave us a commentary on how, since Ms Pelosi is not permanently domiciled in Washington, she does not fall under the jurisdiction of Archbishop Wuerl, and would therefore not be subject to his censure. Something like that. Now, the Yooper is a smart guy, and he's gotten our endorsement here at mwbh. He might even be right on the money, as he usually is. But if only he, a) read more about the section of canon law that includes "quasi-domicile" and so on, or, b) were a canonist himself, I might have something to work with here. But I don't for the moment. All I have is this incident.
Now, back to our story, and the thrilling climax:
His temptation, he said, was to reply with, "What are YOU doing about it? How is your voice heard?"
There was a smattering of applause from his listeners.
Okay. Here's my question to His Immenseness: What if the questioner had an answer for you?
Our posturing prelate will never know, having been saved by the adoration of sycophants, of which he will never be found wanting for the rest of his life. You see, most of us in the pews don't have people lining up to kiss our ring (or whatever we choose to expose for veneration). Some of us have to walk the walk lest we be written off out of hand. And if this little Love Fest is any indication, the Most Reverend Archbishop of Washington doesn't have to know the damn difference.
But those of us who know, that being called "Father" is more than a title to wave like a stick over someone's head, know better. We know there is more to "teaching" than nearly spouting off words. We have to take the broad leap and set an example, or correct the miscreant in question. Sometimes we have to correct the miscreant in public. And when we do, it is because we have no choice; the misbehavior is public, our other children are watching, are taking mental notes, and are learning from what is being "taught."
Dom Bettinelli is one of them who gets it:
Son: Dad, I think you should know that my older Brother is doing some pretty immoral things, including encouraging his no-good friends to commit crimes.
Dad: That is pretty bad. He shouldn’t do that...
So, this week's Tip of the Black Hat goes to the questioner who had to endure the humiliation in Christ's name, at the behest of one who has to wear a title like a sign around his neck to do the same. I know what you're thinking: "Hey, Mister Black Hat, what are YOU doing about it? How is your voice heard?"
Glad you asked. If you read this far, you have your answer.