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2006 CCCB Plenary Assembly: Cardinal Theodore McCarrick shares reflections on involvement in public life

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Cardinals Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Québec, and Theodore Edgar McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C.

CCCB – Cornwall…Teach without fear, dialogue with honesty and act with charity: this is the Church’s triple role not only toward Catholic political leaders, but also toward the entire political structure. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop emeritus of Washington D.C., made this a major point of his presentation on “involvement in public life and the social teaching of the church” that he gave to the members of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) at their Plenary Assembly in Cornwall, which is meeting until Friday, 20 October 2006.

Bishops in their role as pastors and leaders are called to show courage, clarity and love, “a love that encompasses respect, comprehension, compassion and truth,” he said. He explained that this is a formidable task in the present context when religious points of view appear to be banned from the public sphere and a “secular religion” imposed.

“This anti-religious construct makes no sense,” stated the Chairman of the Task Force on Catholics in Political Life of the United States Conference of Bishops, which has focused on the question of Catholics in political life. It is nonsense, he said, since “Decisions that affect the national welfare of a nation cannot be arrived at without the use of ethical and moral principles and, at the very basis, these tend to come from religious values.”

Catholic social doctrine helps to shed light on this, he said. Cardinal McCarrick stated that Catholic social teaching “has no intention of giving the Church power over the State. Even less is it an attempt to impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to the faith. Its aim is to contribute, here and now, to the acknowledgment and attainment of what is just and what is in accord with the nature of every human being.” The Church’s objective, he said, is the formation of the consciences of those involved in politics, and to stimulate action in response to the authentic requirements of justice.

Other Matters

Various reports were also discussed during the afternoon of Tuesday, 17 October, the second day of the Plenary.

The Bishops had a major discussion on a report regarding the question and prevention of sexual abuse. Further reflections on this are planned later this week.

The Council for Reconciliation, Solidarity and Communion with Aboriginal Peoples reported on its activities.  In addition, the CCCB Publications Services reported that it is planning on sales of almost 2$ million this year.


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Last Updated on Friday, March 05 2010  
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Canada’s oldest diocese, the Archdiocese of Quebec, was established in 1674. Most Reverend François de Laval was its first Bishop.