Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Faced with Catholics who love the church but who hold dissenting views, Wuerl said, “In the pulpit, we’re supposed to present the teaching with all of its unvarnished clarity, but when you step out of the pulpit, you have to meet people where they are and try to walk with them.

This comment comes in the course of an interview with National Catholic Reporter's John Allen and others in Rome, as the Congregations (meetings of cardinals before the actual conclave) are about to begin.

It is crucial to his style as a "centrist" in the American Catholic Church (I guess it's no accident he's the Archbishop of Washington, DC) and highly thought of by Pope Benedict XVI (he was named "general secretary" of the last bishops' synod, on the new evangelization).

But his thinking mirrors that of a comment made years ago by the Catholic novelist Graham Greene, who said something to the effect:  You priests are harsh beyond belief when you preach in the pulpit, but you are human and understanding in wonderful ways in the confessional.  The trouble is, we novelists write in the confessional, and you priests judge us from the pulpit.
Wuerl's approach resonates also with that of the patron saint of parish priests, St Jean Vianney.  A parishioner of his was asked once if the Cure of Ars preached much, and the response was, "Oh, yes--long sermons:  always about hell!"  Yet in the confessional (his favorite place to minister) he would often impose penances that he himself would perform on the penitent's behalf.

He understood; Greene understood; Wuerl understands.

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