By Michelle Boorstein
This week Washington celebrates its globe-trotting cardinal, Theodore McCarrick.
McCarrick turns 80 in a few days, which is a retirement-like milestone for Catholics because at that age cardinals are no longer eligible to vote for pope. Dozens of priests and bishops turned out last night for a special Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral downtown in honor of the sprightly New Yorker.
While McCarrick was only archbishop of Washington for five years, he was already well-known for his leadership on social justice issues and for his sprightly, politically-savvy nature. The Vatican tapped him for years as their representative – and investigator — overseas on human rights and migration issues and he continues to travel for similar issues.
Some politics-watchers say McCarrick is an adviser of some sort to the Obama Administration.
Folks who went last night said among those attending were Washington’s current archbishop Donald Wuerl, Cardinal Edward Egan (retired as New York’s archbishop), Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde and some church leaders from New Jersey, where McCarrick used to serve. Wuerl and McCarrick spoke, and a reading was done by Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, who was in the news a lot earlier this year when she bucked the U.S. bishops and supported the White House’s health care bill.
Today there is a private event for McCarrick, but in effect the whole celebration has been uncharacteristically quiet. There was zero publicity about this week’s happenings, and weeks of our requests to interview Cardinal McCarrick about the milestone and his current work were rebuffed. Unusual for a man known for being accessible to reporters, but perhaps that’s the prerogative of retirement!