The cardinal said he recognized that his remarks could have given the wrong impression to people who took them out of context.
“I’m afraid that I misspoke last Wednesday when I was being interviewed on CNN,” the cardinal wrote, referring to the June 7 interview.
The cardinal explained that he and Blitzer were discussing the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment that had yet to be voted on in the Senate. During the interview, the cardinal defended the need to “continue to define marriage as we have defined marriage for thousands of years as a union between a man and a woman.”
“After that, I spoke of the legislation as it had been proposed and that it would not eliminate the possibility of civil unions,” the cardinal wrote in his clarification. “I said, ‘If this is what the legislation would provide for, I think we can live with that.’”
“My point was that the wording of the proposed legislation to protect marriage, which did not eliminate civil unions, might be necessary in order to have the votes needed to pass it,” he explained in the clarification, which was posted on the Archdiocese of Washington’s website this weekend.
“When probed further on the question of civil unions, which came up because the wording of the constitutional amendment did not seem to eliminate them, I returned to the ideal,” he wrote.
The ideal, he had said during the interview, is that everyone should be “able to enter a union with a man and a woman and that would bring children into the world and have the wonderful relationship of man and wife that is so mutually supportive and is really so much part of our society and what keeps society together.”
“In trying to reply to a question, I mentioned people who may need the right to take care of each other when they are grievously ill and hospitalized, but it was always in the context of the proposed legislation and in no way in favor of a lifestyle that is contrary to the teaching of the Church and Scripture,” he clarified.
“I realized that my words could have given the wrong impression to someone who did not take my remarks in context,” wrote the cardinal. “I regret any confusion my words may have caused because I did not make myself sufficiently clear.”
The official transcript of the segment of the CNN interview in question follows:
BLITZER: Another very sensitive issue that's being dealt with in the Senate right now involves a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Senator Ted Kennedy said this yesterday. He said, "A vote for this amendment is a vote for bigotry, pure and simple." You disagree with him, don't you?
MCCARRICK: On this one, I do. Ted and I have -- do have differences from time to time. And this is a real big one. It seems to me that we really have to continue to define marriage as we've defined marriage for thousands of years as a union between a man and a woman.
Now, I think the legislation as it is proposed would not throw out the possibility of a civil union. And I think we can -- we can live with that if this is what -- if this is what the Constitution will provide for. But to say that you can take this concept of marriage, this word of marriage and use it in ways that it has never been used before, as far as I know, in the history of the world, I think that makes no sense.
BLITZER: So just explain. You think that you could live with -- you could support civil unions between gays and lesbians, but you wouldn't like them to get formally married, is that right?
MCCARRICK: Yes. I think -- I think basically the ideal would be that everybody was -- was able to enter a union with a man and a woman and bring children into the world and have the wonderful relationship of man and wife that is so mutually supportive and is really so much part of our society and what keeps our society together. That's the ideal.
If you can't meet that ideal, if there are people who for one reason or another just cannot do that or feel they cannot do that, then in order to protect their right to take care of each other, in order to take care of their right to have visitation in a hospital or something like that, I think that you could allow, not the ideal, but you could allow for that for a civil union.
But if you begin to fool around with the whole - the whole nature of marriage, then you’re doing something which effects the whole culture and denigrated what is so important for us. Marriage is the basic foundation of our family structure. And if we lose that, then I think we become a society that’s in real trouble.
.- Cardinal Theodore McCarrick issued a clarification Friday on remarks he made during an interview on CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. The interview had generated some concern among many Catholics.