Seamless words from Baltimore archbishop

07hp0483The Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore has a new leader and, as you would expect, the Baltimore Sun put the installation rites on page one. And, as you would expect, the story was a mix of pageantry and pieces of the sermon by Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien that had political implications. The procession at the start of the Mass must have been an awesome sight, which makes we wish that someone had visited the balcony in the top of the modern Cathedral of Mary Our Queen and taken a picture of that scene. Years ago, I was part of a choir that sang in that balcony and, trust me, the view is spectacular. The Sun team may have even wanted, since the package included some video elements, to offer a short YouTube-friendly clip of that part of the rite. (I cannot include any of the Sun's copyrighted photos with this post.)

The story by Liz F. Kay notes:

O'Brien became the 15th archbishop of the nation's first archdiocese in the two-hour Mass of installation at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in North Baltimore, taking over for Cardinal William H. Keeler, who held the post for 18 years.

It took nearly half an hour for the approximately 450 priests, deacons and seminarians -- walking two-by-two in white vestments -- to file into the cathedral, followed by 77 bishops, archbishops and cardinals. Keeler, in red robes, entered last.

Baltimore is known as a center for a very progressive, politically active brand of American Catholicism. So it was not a surprise that O'Brien elected to touch on many themes linked to social and economic justice. He also bluntly addressed life in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

However, I wanted to note that the Sun report appears to have left intact a crucial section of the archbishop's homily -- allowing him to seemlessly link two issues that, in Catholic theology, are woven together. However, it is refreshing to see them remain linked in a news report. This does not happen very often.

BaltimoreCathedral2Thus, we are told:

O'Brien offered financial support to help pregnant women avoid abortion. "The right to life is the greatest civil rights issue of our time," he said.

The archbishop also committed to continue the archdiocese's history upholding the dignity of life for residents of the city's poorest neighborhoods.

"To write off large parts of the city as hopeless and beyond redemption is to disregard thousands of lives made in the image and likeness of God," O'Brien said.

"I pledge to you today that this archdiocese will make every effort to ensure that the dream that animated Dr. [Martin Luther] King and so many others of us does not die -- for realizing that dream is central to the preaching of the Gospel which is the core of the church's existence."

Notice that the "life" language runs through that whole section and is directly linked to the "image and likeness of God." That is what the Church teaches and, thus, it was nice to see the connection intact.

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