In 2004, McCarrick said he was not "comfortable in denying the Eucharist," a statement that sparked an uproar during the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), a Catholic who supports abortion rights.
But the churchman's position appeared to have changed when the Catholic News Service reported last week that "Cardinal McCarrick said that if, after dialogue, he had reached an impasse with a Catholic politician who continues to publicly defy church teaching, then that politician should not receive communion."
"Sometimes you have to do it," the report quoted him as saying, adding that "one must clearly, courageously and with love lay out the teaching."
Bravo. I'd like to mention that in addition to all our hauling him into the public square and putting the dunce cap on his head, George Weigel did a fabulous piece on him several months ago which may indeed have broken McCarrick's spirit of rebellion.
Unfortunately, this is what works. Exposing them in the newspaper. All else fails. The YAYA Good Old Boys just did not pan out.
William Donahue of the Catholic League, a Catholic civil rights organization, concurs that there has definitely been a shift since the debate began over two years ago.
"There has been a change," said Donahue. "There's no question that the vector of change is moving towards greater orthodoxy."
While Donahue would have preferred McCarrick to have spoken out earlier, he is pleased that he has done so now.
"Once you're not in the hot seat of having to deal with the flack from all different sides, it becomes a little bit easier for you to take a more principled approach," said Donahue.
"One might have hoped him to have taken that approach a little bit earlier. He didn't, but he has now, and that should be welcomed."