Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the archbishop emeritus of Washington, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend, that he expects Roman Catholic Church leaders to intensify efforts on behalf of a new immigration law and gun-control measures.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT, HOST, BLOOMBERG NEWS: We begin the show with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the archbishop emeritus of Washington. Your eminence, thank you so much for being with us.
CARDINAL MCCARRICK, ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS OF WASHINGTON: Thank you, Al. It’s great to be with you.
HUNT: It is Holy Week. What’s the state of religion and especially the Catholic church in America today?
MCCARRICK: Well, it could be better. I think we still, when you compare it with the rest of the world, we still have most of our people who believe in God, most people who -- who profess a religion. Although you have to confess, a lot of people who belong to organized religions are now sort of on their own. It doesn’t mean they don’t believe in God. I think they still do, but they -- they are sort of freelancing now, and I think they go from one place to another. We’d rather that they were in a family in the community because there’s more -- there’s more strength. There’s more support in a community like the church, or any church. But as long as they believe in God, I think that’s the anchor that’s going to hang them together.
HUNT: You have just come back recently from Rome celebrating a new pope, a Jesuit from Latin America. What are likely to be the most significant differences between Pope Francis and Pope Benedict?
MCCARRICK: Well, I think that’s -- it’s an interesting question because in some ways, they’re very similar. They are -- they are both faithful to the -- to the theology. They’re both good theologians. They’re both men who have -- who have served the church for many, many years, but they have different personalities, just as Benedict was different from John Paul --
HUNT: Different emphasis?
MCCARRICK: There should be -- there probably will be a different emphasis just because of their training.
HUNT: And what will the new emphasis be?
MCCARRICK: I think Pope -- Pope Francis will be very interested in the poor. That will be something that will be right on the top of his agenda. And he’s really put it there. He’ll also be very concerned about the -- about the climate, about ecology, about what we’re doing to nature, what we’re doing to the world. I think those are the two reasons -- two of the reasons that he chose Francis, because Francis was so much in love with the poor.
HUNT: Let me get to some of those in a minute. But first let me ask you this. Does the new pope have the will and the mandate to shake up what is a discredited bureaucracy right now, including the -- the Vatican?
MCCARRICK: I think he does. I think he has the will to -- to make it work better, the will to make it more in the service of people. And I think he has the ability to do that. They tell me, I’m not a scholar of the church in Argentina, but they tell me that he did that in Argentina. So he has the experience and the -- and the strength, the guts to do what he thinks God wants him to do.
HUNT: Your eminence, you and others have said don’t look for any major changes in doctrine, including women priests. You have been a champion of a larger role for women in the church. And I know you know there are some serious tensions between some nuns and some of the church hierarchy. What should the bishops of church do to better recognize and reward the role of so many of these sisters?
MCCARRICK: First, talk with each other. That’s the most important thing. And sometimes it’s hard because some of the bishops are tough. Some of the sisters are tough. And when you have the same -- you have a bishop who tends to be very, very strong in his beliefs, and you have sisters and they have different things, then there are problems. But no, I think the beginning and the end is getting together, getting to understand each other.
We -- we have this -- this whole rule of inter-religious dialogue, and I think it’s for any dialogue. First of all, you’ve got to talk -- first of all, you end up talking with each other, but not necessarily to each other. Second, you talk to. And all those things, that’s what they have to get to.
HUNT: Let me go back to the poor. As you noted, Pope Francis is passionately committed to the poor. In America, the gap between the rich and poor and it’s getting bigger. Is it a moral responsibility for Catholic politicians and others to support measures to reduce income inequality, or is that a secular matter?
MCCARRICK: I don’t think it’s a secular matter at all. I think the Lord -- the Lord tells us all in whatever profession we’re in, whatever way of life we’re in, to take care of the poor. Now I have to do it in one way. You have to do it in one way. A politician has to do it in another way. A businessman has to do it another way. A judge, a police officer, a doctor. We all -- wherever we come from, that is one of the things that God wants us to do, take care of the poor.
HUNT: The majority of Catholics according to polls now favor same-sex marriage. The bishops filed a brief this week opposing both the California and -- and any national same-sex marriage, supporting a ban on it. I guess my question to you is if two gays or two lesbians came to you for counsel, what would you tell them?
MCCARRICK: Well, I would tell them to try to be as good as they can, to try to be as -- as faithful as they can. They can be good friends. The difficulty is we believe that the sacrament of marriage is made for a man and a woman.
HUNT: Do you have any problems with civil unions?
MCCARRICK: Well, I prefer -- no. I have no problem if this is the situation that -- I certainly would prefer that to -- to a -- what I would call a marriage in quotes.
HUNT: Your eminence, would -- do you agree that -- that divorce or children born out of wedlock is a bigger threat to society and marriage than same-sex marriage?
MCCARRICK: It probably is now. It probably is now because it’s so prevalent in our society, whereas same-sex marriage is not at this point prevalent in our society, and probably won’t be because the majority of our people are -- do not have that -- have that -- that orientation. But for those who are -- who do get married and whose marriages is broken, the children find themselves out on a limb. That’s -- that is a serious problem in our society.
HUNT: Let me turn to immigration. I know that’s an issue that you have been involved with and care deeply about. Should the church, as is the case with abortion, have priests get worshippers to fill out pro-reform postcards, send them to politicians, actively lobby this issue as passionately as they do some other issues?
MCCARRICK: Well, I think they should actively lobby this issue. I think it’s an important issue. But I think there’s always -- you should never force your people to do anything. You should make it possible for them to see this is the thing to do. You can -- you can be very -- very proactive in your own life and very convincing in what you believe. And if they do believe and please God, all the ministers of religion in the United States believe you got to take care of these people who are here. Maybe 1.0000 percent of them are not good people. But so many -- these are family people. They came to get a better life for their children, for themselves. They came to -- they came to make a contribution to American society. All this is part of --
HUNT: The bishops have endorsed immigration reform. As I said, I know it’s an issue you care very deeply about. Should they be more active, I guess is what I’m asking. They are active in issues like abortion and issues like contraception. Should they really, really go all out?
MCCARRICK: I’m -- I’m hoping that when -- when we get a bill, you’ll see how active they’ll be.
HUNT: OK. All right. I will watch. Let me turn to another tough issue: guns. The bishops again took a stand about violence and there are too many guns in society. There’s a fellow who I don’t know named John Gehring, director of a liberal Catholic advocacy group, who said, “Catholic lawmakers who call themselves pro-life and are cozy with the National Rifle Association should not be getting a free pass from the church.” Is he right, and are they getting a free pass?
MCCARRICK: Well, I’m not sure they are getting a free pass. I think that the church has been -- has made its point. I think we obviously are against these heavy-duty automatic weapons. Their -- their place is in war, not in -- not in sports and neither for self-defense. It would seem to be overkill to use these kind of weapons. So I think that maybe they -- let’s say this. When -- when it gets to the -- to the flesh point -- flash point, I think we will find that the church is speaking out with so many other churches in the United States to say that guns are for military action, guns are for self-protection, but you don’t need an arsenal to protect your family.
HUNT: Your eminence, it is such an honor to have you on, particularly Easter week. Thank you so much, and we look forward to visiting with you again soon.
MCCARRICK: Thanks, Al. It’s good to be with you. Happy Easter to you.
HUNT: Happy Easter to you. Thank you, sir.
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