Transcript: Archbishop of Washington on 'FNS'

Published April 11, 2004

| FoxNews.com

The following is an excerpt from FOX News Sunday, April 11, 2004.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: A few days ago, we scheduled an interview with the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, as a special Easter power player of the week. But in our conversation, the cardinal had some interesting things to say about everything from presidential politics to the troubled world we live in. We want to show you some of that.

We began by talking about John Kerry, who, if elected, would be only the second Catholic president, as well as another politician who faced his own religious issues 44 years ago, John F. Kennedy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARDINAL THEODORE MCCARRICK, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON, D.C.:

I'm old enough to remember Kennedy's election and how he had to walk on eggs during those times to make sure that he was able to be a Catholic and, yet, to let people know that he was a perfect American in every other sense.

But I don't I think people feel anymore that you have to prove that you're an American if you're a Catholic.

WALLACE: But this year, John Kerry faces a different challenge; not to show he's a good American, but a good Catholic. Kerry favors stem cell research and the right to abortion, both contrary to church teachings.

Cardinal McCarrick is head of a task force of Catholic bishops that's now studying how to deal with politicians who defy church doctrine.

Should a Catholic politician follow the teachings of the church?

MCCARRICK: Well, as a Catholic, he certainly should follow the teachings of the church. The teachings of the church sometimes give the impression that they don't come from God. We believe that what we proclaim is what the gospel proclaims.

WALLACE: Some church officials are critical of Senator Kerry because of his stands on abortion and stem cell research. Is that fair?

MCCARRICK: It's fair that some bishops are critical of him, because each bishop makes his own decision. Certainly, I think we all would be critical of anyone who did not agree with us.

WALLACE: Which puts Kerry and his church on a possible collision course. Some Catholic leaders have suggested denying communion to politicians who don't obey their church.

At least one archbishop has said that he would not like to see Senator Kerry take communion there in St. Louis. How do you feel about that?

MCCARRICK: I think every archbishop has the right to make his decision in his own area.

I think that there are many of us who would feel that there are certain restrictions that's we might put on people, that there are certain sanctions that we may put on people. But I think many of us would not like to use the eucharest as part of the sanction.

WALLACE: Would you, if Senator Kerry were at mass that you were...

MCCARRICK: I think I would want to get to talk to him, get to see him and get to understand him before I would make a decision like that.

If a man said to me, "I don't believe in Jesus Christ, I don't believe in the church, I don't believe in holy communion," and then comes up to me, I wouldn't give him communion.

WALLACE: But what if he said, "I disagree with the church's position on abortion and stem cell research"?

MCCARRICK: Well, I'd have to know exactly what his disagreement is all about.

WALLACE: So you're saying it's an issue?

MCCARRICK: Oh, I'm saying it's an issue, yes. These things (inaudible) because this is the teaching of the church. So it has to be an issue.

WALLACE: Last Sunday, Kerry took communion at a Protestant church. After our interview, an aide to the Cardinal noted that Catholics are not supposed to receive communion in a non-Catholic church.

Kerry has arranged to attend Easter mass today at his local church in Boston. And he says the church allows for freedom of conscience for Catholics on public issues.

But Cardinal McCarrick wanted to talk about other things, especially the genocide of 800,000 people in Rwanda 10 years ago. He was one of the first Westerners into the capital after the massacre, and his memories are still vivid.

MCCARRICK: One group finding the other group in the church where they had taken refuge, and finding them there and massacring them there, and the priests and the sisters and the brothers not understanding how people can have that hatred, how people can forget that they're Christians.

WALLACE: What's the lesson that you think we all need to learn 10 years after Rwanda?

MCCARRICK: I think that we all need to learn that we're all brothers and sisters in God's (inaudible) family. I think the violence and the hatred and the animosity and the discrimination and the bias of the world always comes because you don't have that. And please, God, if we did recognize that in ourselves, we would be able to build a better world.

WALLACE: Finally, we talked about a movie that has special resonance this weekend.>

Has the movie, "The Passion of the Christ," made a difference in the way some of your parishioners are experiencing this Holy Week?

MCCARRICK: Oh, I think it has. I think the -- people come up to me and say, "Have you seen the movie," and we know what they're talking about. So I think that it has. And, as far as I can see, for the good.

MCCARRICK: I know of no one who has seen it who has gone away saying, "I hate that people or that people." I know of no one who has said that. I have met people who have only said, "Look what God did for us."

I think it has made them more conscious of the suffering of the Lord, more conscious of his love, and more conscious of God's desire that we be part of his family.

WALLACE: Have you seen it?

MCCARRICK: I have. I have.

WALLACE: And what did you think of it?

MCCARRICK: I cried a little. I closed my eyes at sometimes when the beatings got too terrible.

It reminded me of the suffering of the Lord, and I preach to people all the time that he did it not for the whole human race as a bunch, but for us as individuals. So he did it for me. And I have not always responded to that love.

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