I suppose an American would play up the Cardinal Bernardin/Pope Francis commonality. Two leaves from the same branch, perhaps.
But let’s keep in mind that Americans constitute a one-figure percentage of Catholics worldwide. This is likely more about two men who derive from Jesus, not one from the other.
Part of this shared legacy is also the clumsy opposition, in this case to the Common Ground Initiative in 1996:
(T)hree other Cardinals — Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia, James Cardinal Hickey, Archbishop of Washington, and Bernard Cardinal Law, Archbishop of Boston — have written statements voicing strong reservations.
And let’s review these cardinals carefully.
The first, though now deceased, was thrown under the bus by his archdiocese’s own lawyers in that prominent cover-up trial last year that saw a high-ranking chancery official go to prison. No doubt if that bishop were alive, and the same story were told by the same lawyers, he would be in retirement under house arrest or suspended sentence or something.
The last of the list was probably the most infamous American bishop of the 21st century. Just ask Bostonians. Nothing further need be said.
Of course, when the pope starts talking about dialogue and unity and mercy, some conservatives are falling all over themselves to line up under the banner. And to reassure all that all is in continuity.
But don’t be fooled. We’ve veered away from a fringe and reactionary tone to one more central to the Gospel. And if old school bishops and others want to board the wagon, more power to them.