Cardinal Cormac was forced into an interview with Andrew Marr yesterday morning. The ostensible headline topic was the ‘moral agenda’ of the government, attacked by Archbishop Vinnie “Knuckles” Nichols in his scathing homily on the feast of Christus Rex.
This is the second time that the Cardinal has had to follow in the footsteps of the increasingly vociferous Metropolitan. Concern is mounting that +Knuckles’ increasingly overt campaign for the red hat is getting under the Cardinal’s feet.
Whist on the sofa, Marr took the opportunity to quiz Cormac on other newsworthy ecclesial matters. The subjects and responses showed Cormac at his best and worst.
When asked about condoms, the fight against AIDS and the Chruch’s position, he fiddled with his episcopal ring so hard I thought he would unscrew his finger.
His response; that there would not be a doctrinal rethink lacked conviction and seemed to suggest his opposition to distributing Frenchletters willy-nilly stemmed from a current over-supply in most of Africa.
His worst gaff came when he said money would be better spent on anti-retroviral medication, as this was in desperately short supply.
Unfortunately, in his flustered state he seemed to suggest that ‘prevention was pointless, treat them when they’re ill’. It was not what he meant, but you could see the gladiatorial twinkle in Marr’s eye.
Mercifully he was to much of a gentleman to deliver an hideous blow. Had it been Paxman, we would have seen Cormac earn that red hat in double quick time.
When the subject of priestly celibacy was broached we saw Cormac at his best – pastoral, intelligent and measured. He gave a word perfect answer about the crisis of vocations “not being a crisis of celibacy but of faith” and that where there is faith, the sacrifice of celibacy was joyfully undertaken.
To admit those who would only serve if they could have a wife would be to lower the bar of faith not to open the door to waiting masses.
On the whole I would say Cormac manged to bat out a draw, giving some good answers and leaving himself open to a flooring with the occasional howler. Marr the merciful let him off and I am glad he did. For all his failings as a leader, Cardinal Cromac is a pious man and apparently one of the best spiritual directors in the business.
He is a talent misused.