Funeral Mass Politics

There it was on non-stop television: the Catholic rite of the Mass of the Resurrection. True, the networks responded because … Continued

There it was on non-stop television: the Catholic rite of the Mass of the Resurrection. True, the networks responded because a celebrity was being buried: Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy, last of three brothers who have left an enormous political legacy to America. But our Catholic liturgy was not invented for celebrities and this mass in a Roxbury church was not very much different from the funeral for any Catholic. So, did Kennedy’s liberal politics interrupt a ritual meant to unite and not divide?

I am not one of those who think that religion and politics should never mix. Catholicism is one of the most socializing of Christian denominations, tinting public celebrations with shades of political meaning. The scholars say ritual depends upon symbols, gestures, artistic design and appeal to aesthetic sensitivity. More than words or written texts, symbols resonate in the far reaches of the soul and human emotions. Long after people have forgotten the words, they remember sights and sounds. These often serve more to motivate the public around political goals than political speeches or documents. Probably few of us can cite any part of the wording of the Civil Rights Act, for example, but we remember the photograph of tens of thousands gathered in Washington, or the melody of “We Shall Overcome,” or the sermon that began with “I have a dream…”

The Mass of Resurrection for Ted Kennedy was thus an event that featured political persuasion in ritual. Some protested the celebration of such a full liturgy in the funeral of a public figure whose sins had been so visible. Kennedy’s support for abortion was the key issue for such protesters. Such a line of protest, however, would likely have denied St. Augustine a funeral mass because he fathered a child out of wedlock. Besides, if Kennedy had not been reconciled in the months of his fatal illness, neither his pastor nor his Archbishop nor his pope would have graced the ceremony as they did.

I think Catholicism is a religion for sinners: we stay in the church because we are imperfect and need God’s grace. In that sense, Ted Kennedy — the public sinner — needed the Church more than most. And anyway, a funeral mass will help him get out of Purgatory faster! I my opinion, Ted’s stance on the legality of abortion had more to do with his brother John’s 1960 formulation about Catholicism and politics than with more recent Catholic theology. It left a lot to be desired, but that is why he needs our prayers.

Before the end of the mass, President Obama delivered a eulogy privileged with the pulpit. As he had demonstrated in his commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, Obama understands Catholic decorum. Prudently, he spoke about Kennedy and not about his own challenge on health-care reform.

The overt political message came from the ritual itself. For instance, the three scripture readings echoed Kennedy’s agenda. The loss of two brothers by assassins’ bullets was one of his tests by purifying fire (Wisdom 3:1-9). He refused to separate himself from Catholicism (Romans 8:31b-35, 37-39) even though some of the “powers and principalities” of the Catholic hierarchy would gladly have bid him adieu. His legislative agenda came from Jesus’ instruction for how to measure a life — feeding the hungry and healing the sick (Mt. 25:31-32A, 34-40). These readings were entirely appropriate. They had political implications, I think, only because religion has political implications.

The overt political statements came from the mouths of children who paraded before the microphones at the Prayer of the Faithful. Each petition was worded with quotes from a Kennedy speech. The most political asked us to pray that health care be recognized as a “right, not a privilege.” Yet that petition was also the most Catholic, echoing passionate statements from popes and bishops to “take back our government” and make it an instrument of Catholic obligations to make God’s Kingdom come.

This funeral mass showed that with growing boldness, many Catholics are professing our gospel commitment to social justice just as loudly as others speak on abortion. Both are Catholic passions.

PS – The Cardinal Archbishop explained the reason for a public Catholic funeral:

  • usapdx

    Senator Kennedy was a grand man to the average man and the less then average man account of his work for then in his life. Now we all know his history as well as a true American as a true person of our goverment of the people, by the people, and for the people. Now if a dying person that you knew wrote you a letter and had it delivered by hand to you, whould you not write a letter back to that person or have a employee write a letter in return two weeks latter? POPE BEN XVI should pratice charity that he preaches account of his lack of it to Senator Kennedy which our President Obama hand delivered that letter to Pope Ben XVI hand. Christ wants all to be honest and Christ like.

  • ccnl1

    Ted Kennedy was a pro-abortionist. His soul if it exists somewhere will be constantly hounded by 35 million souls crying out, WHY DID YOU FORSAKE ME”!!!!!!

  • Athena4

    Yeah, it’s all about the fetuses. Never mind that Kennedy was responsible for SCHIP, which has saved the lives of millions of already-born children. But he was pro-choice, so he’s automatically condemned. Typical. Care about babies in utero. After they’re out, you’re on your own, kid.

  • tinyjab40

    It is hard not to be political when you use that scripture from Matthew. In regard to feeding the hungry and visiting those in prison, Jesus was a political radical. I admired and respected Ted Kennedy. To be pro-choice doesn’t mean to be pro-abortion. It just means those decisions are to be made by women and their doctors.

  • mwhall

    No less a person than Saint Thomas Aquinas argued that the soul didn’t enter the body until the moment of “quickening” which generally occurs well into the second trimester. He though that the death of a fetus was not equivalent to the loss of a human life in the full sense.I suppose the good Catholics who are condemning Kennedy to hell have consigned St. Thomas there as well.I do recall that the master recommended that we “judge not.” This was something the pharisees never seemed to appreciate. They still don’t seem to get it.

  • masonjahr

    As in the Latin, adepto curvus.

  • SAB3

    With von Balthasar I dare to hope that all men be saved, and that Kennedy is with God right now. However, it is a stretch to say that because the Cardinal-Archbishop was present and the pope sent a pro forma letter, he had the approval of both. It is as much a matter of courtesy than anything else.It’s also worth noting that St. Augustine publicly rebuked his past sins. In contrast, Ted Kennedy never did. In fact, he rebuked his past–morally sound–stance on abortion.

  • eflowrc

    Please, will someone be kind enough to show me in the Holy Scriptures where Jesus (or God speaking through a mortal) directs mankind to build monumental edifices for worship, populate them with graven images, and construct elaborate rituals? In my reading of the scriptures, and particularly the Book of Revelation, I find that resurrection is promised after Armageddon. I don’t find evidence elsewhere that it will happen right after death, except for a small number of people – giving the number (be it symbolic or not) of 144,000.

  • KirkGregoryCzuhai

    Teddy, just like Jack and Bobby, ALREADYare YOU ready for this fact when YOUR time comes?ptth://HeavenSense.wslove and peace,

  • gjdagis

    What ever happened to the separation of church and state?

  • iamerican

    Coming, going, and buried under The Flag, with the singing of “America the Beautiful,” Ted Kennedy proved himself first and foremost American, thank G-d. May the traitors who killed his brothers to keep us dying in Vietnam be brought to justice. RIP, Ted, you earned Arlington.


    Isn’t it amazing if you’re a Kennedy all sins are forgiven. He wanted a funeral fit for a president. He was a womanizer, a drunk and a killer. The whole country was absorbed, the press, the coverage was over the top. The Pope kept silent, which speaks volumes. Mary Joe has the last word. Liberals hope health reform will be passed because it was his lifetime work. Forget it, the Kennedy money, or name will not work.

  • chrojo01

    “Jesus was a political radical. “Jesus was totally apolitical and his Kingdom is not of this world. Jesus was not a radical, a socialist, a community organizer, a politician, etc. and the Bible DOES NOT contain Marxism and is bastardized by those who use it to further a political agenda, such as those who prescribe to so-called “Liberation Theology”. “Liberation Theology” enslaves us into a collective and has nothing to do with God. The Bible commands that we have charity for ALL people and help others. It is not political; it is not of this world!

  • tdlkal

    To eflowrc: You asked for scriptural references to support the building of churches for worship etc…. Before I provide you with those references can you point me to that portion of scriptures that says only the scriptures are to be used to base one’s life or worship of God? I would be very interested in your answer since, as you may not know, the Canon of Scriptures (i.e. your Bible) was not in existence for the first 350 years of Christianity! (One wonders if any worhsip occurred during that time) It was not until the Pope (yes the Catholic Pope!) Pope Damasus decreed those books that were inspired by God. This happened in the year 382 a.d. So, the book you refer to as Sacred Scripture is made up of books, letters, etc, that the Pope decided were inspired scripture.

  • libertymeanslife

    Kennedy was indeed a sinner, a womanizer who drank and left a young woman in the auto he drove into the water to die while saving himself. I do not judge him; this is for God to do. I’m just happy that he was not my representative in Washington as I believe this man was a foolish man who got far too much attention upon his death. He was a mere mortal who like most of us was a sinner. What is that passage from the Bible about rich men having a very difficult time entering the Kingdom of God? God is Kennedy’s judge now.

  • pawprints54

    He left the world a better place? I wonder if Mary Jo would think so. I wonder if her family does. Two months suspended sentence for leaving her to die in a sinking car for 8 hours while he sobered up. He deserves to be buried in Arlington? I don’t even think he deserved to continue serving in the senate. I lost my father to cancer at age 76. He was a good and kind man. He did a lot of good for a lot of people. He did it quietly, out of the lime-light. He never harmed a soul. I had an uncle (now deceased) who served in Germany in WW II, and what he saw there toward the end of the war, when the concentration camps were liberated, left emotional scars he carried until the day he died. These are people who deserve the honor of Arlington – not people who merely carry the name “Kennedy”. For as much as democrats claim to be for ordinary people, they certainly elevate some people over others. They have created their own “royalty” who can do no wrong. Who can literally get away with murder. The royalty of the democrats are “The Kennedys”. I thought the whole premise underlying the founding of our country was we would have no royalty? “All men are created equal. . .” and all that. But no one calls the democrats on this, or the Kennedys. If a republican, any republican, had done what Ted Kennedy did at Chappaquiddick he/she would have been torn apart by the press and the public. Kennedy emerged with a 2 month suspended sentences, and continued his career in the senate – criticizing others as he went. A lot of nerve. But I guess when you are treated like royalty you feel entitled.

  • ocean3

    Ted Kennedy’s funeral was as he, and his family, wanted it. It was fitting for the man, his friends and family. It would have been fitting whether it was nationally televised or not. It was televised, and we watched because we wanted to. If we ever learn anything from these events it is that there is the public image, and then the private man we really knew little about. He was loved by his family, friends and colleagues, but most importantly by his children and grandchildren, which to me speaks volumes.

  • chatard

    WEEELLLL NOW! Isn’t it just so gosh darn funny how all of a sudden the veil is lifted away and the “separation of church and state” progressives are so mystical in their appreciation of the sellout of the Catholic bishops. The religious right in tomorrow’s Quinn and Meacham production will once again be ridiculed and vilified, but for today, the progs are just proud as punch to be Catholics and Democrats, aren’t they? Wasn’t it just so heartwarming to see that little tyke spouting something Uncle this or Aunt that penned for him? Kept waiting for shouts of “Health Care Now !” to ring out in Our Lady of Perpetual Politics Church, like in the Wellstone Wild and Wonderful Event.

  • eflowrc

    To TDLKAL: Thank you for taking the time to respond to my request. I consider myself to be a Christian, but I do not affiliate with any specific Christian (for want of a better word) “denomination”. I doubt that the Bible would specifically say that “only the scriptures are to be used to base one’s life or worship of God”. I do recall a reference (though i can’t find it now!) to not adding or subtracting a single word from them. which I interpret to mean amending God’s teachings in any way. I await your thoughts on buildings, statuary, and rituals. Many thanks!

  • FireontheMtn

    I thought it was a beautiful mass.

  • moninga1

    My very politically and theologically conservative Catholic friend was deeply moved by the Mass and by the way it was structured. So was I and I’m not Catholic. It was a beautiful service and I was appalled that anyone would deny Kennedy the liturgy and healing of a Mass because of their own lack of humility and charity.

  • ceflynline

    eflowrc:”Scripture” might also have included writings by early Fathers, like Clement, Iraneaus, might have contained obviously heretical and anti christian writings like the Gnostic Gospels, might have included particular oddities like the Testimony of the Patriarchs, or the Didache. It might have included much of tradition had the early councils desired it. The Church claims what it calls the deposit of faith, which includes Scripture and Tradition. Scripture, by itself, is a record of specially important writings, sort of a constitution, that are of particular importance to the Church, but Scripture is not the total of the deposit of faith. The organization of the Church, the functional form of the Mass, the construction of churches, from the most humble chapels to the grandest of Basilicas are expressions of that deposit of faith. We build places to come together at Mass because we are called to gather at supper, “Do this in rememberence of me” which we accept as Sacrament. We choose to so congregate in churches and other buildings that remind us of our faith, of the Saints that preceded us, the lives of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Apostles, and we decorate those buildings to teach ourselves and our children to revere the Church, both the living and the dead, and its teachings. We do not build these places because we are obliged to, but to have places where we may fulfill our obligations in ways that remind us of our traditions. Because of this, there are notable differences in the churches used by Roman Catholics and Byzantine catholics, abd Assyrians, Chaldaens, Ruthenians, Maronites, Melchites, Mozarabs, and the other Uniate Churches. Other, Non Uniate churches have the same approach to THEIR desires to have Sacred Spaces in which to gather and worship the Lord. We do not have the Churches in response to obligation, we have the obligation to be Church, and express our response to that obligation by building churches. Therefor, there are no passages from scripture demanding that we build churches. We build churches, and have Church, as a place and a community in which to learn Scripture and Tradition. Piety causes us to decorate our churches in ways that remind us of our traditions and of Tradition. Common sense causes us to value those churches, and to care for and improve upon them that they may continue to help us in our living of Scripture and Tradition.

  • Athena4

    Laura Bush was the driver in a car accident in high school that killed her then-boyfriend. Nobody is calling HER a killer. Face it – we treated drunk driving a lot differently back then. I am sure that he repented a thousand times over for the death of Ms. Kopeckne, and used it to become a better public servant.

  • voiceinthedesert2

    Dear chrojo01,If you really believe that Jesus wasn’t a radical, then I suggest that you go back and reread the Gospels.Jesus was crucified for one reason and one reason only, because he was a danger to Caesar. If you read a bit of Roman history, you’ll find that the penalty of crucifixion was reserved with great care for the political insurrection; setting yourself up in opposition to Caesar.Jesus preached a kingdom directly opposed to the kingdom of Caesar, and in that case he was political and a radical and it got him murdered.Jesus was not political in the sense that he knew that political systems were not the way to establish justice. You condemn those that bastardize the bible for their own ends, but realize that this has been done by conservatives as well as liberals. The religious right has used scripture to justify the violence of war & racism just as the liberals have used it to condone the violence of some “liberation theology”.You say that Jesus demands “charity” and if you equate “love” and “charity” then I would agree. But the virtue of charity goes beyond our understanding of charity and demands social justice. If we had a just society, there wouldn’t be a lot of charity necessary. One can politicize and polarize justice, but that really solves nothing.Go back and read the Gospels and count the references to the poor and the problems with being rich. The bulk of the Gospels are about justice — not 21st century American justice, but God’s justice. Sorry, they aren’t the same, despite what we’d like to think.

  • iamerican

    Actually all Americans should know the specific and unique reason, under codified Roman law, why crucifixion was meted out. Only one crime was punished by “gibbeting:” the second conviction for sedition – denying that Caesar was “god.” Jews who “caved” are the present Maronite Roman Catholics of the so-called “Palastinians.” A “palast” was the Roman knight, or baron, with jurisdiction over administration withing the Roman Empire, of the “palace district:” the “palastine.” i.e. “palatine,” German Palatine, Palatine, IL, et al.America’s Founder was a Prophet of the one Creator G-d, fluent in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Read his letter to his nephew, Peter Carr in which he provides the legal cite for this section of the Roman law code.

  • tmcproductions2004

    “Some protested the celebration of such a full liturgy in the funeral of a public figure whose sins had been so visible” Oh really, Who? Name one person. You are a puffed up imitation of a christian with tons of political baggage under your disguise.You and your “christian” brothers and sisters have so many issues with the “Romans” it sticks in your craw. And the mere sight of the Kennedys, the first openly catholic leaders, have always made your blood boil. It gnaws you to acknowledge it, so you weave this web of false protestations over his funeral mass.Face it. It galls me to no end!!!

  • forestflyer

    It’s interesting to observe the tone of the Kennedy-haters here and elsewhere. Their judgments are generally harsh, formulaic, and uncharitable, and they do indeed sound like the Pharisees of old. Contrast these with the thoughtful, non-fundamentalist replies of those who look at Kennedy as a complicated and nuanced human and Catholic.I wonder who may be more on the mark. And I wonder if our country will decide that health care more of a right than an individual responsibility, a position which the other 40 most-developed countries in the world have come to. Which position is more Christ-like?Please write your legislator–s/he needs to hear your voice over the loud demagoguery filling the air.

  • Rubiconski

    Kennedys funeral was a Healthcare Commercial!! Even the priest mixed up a religion and politics NLP concoction.They should have saved it for another day.What a disgrace!

  • DwightCollins

    when you think about ted, an image of a fat old man with sunglasses wearing only a business shirt, a tie, sandals and holding a drink chasing anything that moved in the compound…

  • MikeL4

    The problem with “Catholics” like Kennedy and Stephens-Arroyo is that they seem to think the social justice issues and abortion are two seperate mutually exclusive items. These “Catholics” hide in the robes of the Church on social justice but complain about “powers and pricipalities” of the Church when the Church rightfully reproaches them on their stance supporting the “right” to kill developing human beings in the womb.Social justice and stopping the killing of unborn human beings are one and the same. You cannot say you support the dignity of human beings and the poor whil you support their wholesale slaughter. Embrace your Catholic faith fully and support Life both in the dignity of the poor and those less fortunate as well as stopping the taking of that life while it is growing in the womb.For Kennedy’s sake, I hoped he grasped that before his death and truly reconciled his life with God. May God bless his soul and all who departed this life.

  • Mamanomia

    It was an absolutely beautiful liturgy, in the tradition of Catholic Eucharistic…it recognized sinner and the healing grace that comes through belief..There wasn’t anyone forced to watch it…

  • bob59

    Kennedy’s support for abortion has caused the deaths of over 51 million American babies. The protesters were standing up for the lives of children, over 51 million of whom Ted Kennedy now has to face. It seems weak to compare what Kennedy did to St. Augustine’s out of wedlock child…who lived.”Kennedy’s support for abortion was the key issue for such protesters. Such a line of protest, however, would likely have denied St. Augustine a funeral mass because he fathered a child out of wedlock.”

  • tojby_2000

    bob59 wrote: Kennedy’s support for abortion has caused the deaths of over 51 million American babies.________________________________

  • LeszX

    Mr. Stevens-Arroyo really twists the truth when he implies that the Pope in any public way participated in Senator Kennedy’s funeral. The extent of the Pope “gracing” the funeral, was that someone read the letter Kennedy had written and had President Obama deliver to the Pope when Obama visited the Vatican. The Vatican, in turn, had someone – not the pope – send a reply “Commending (Kennedy) and the members of (his) family to the loving intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.To try to use this as some sort of measure of the quality of Kennedy’s “reconciliation” before death – is a real stretch.

  • tsnyder888

    As a Catholic, personally I do not like the way the Church (or some bishops & priests) use the sacraments (like the Eucharist) as a club to punish parishioners for specific wrong-doings (such as supporting abortion rights for), especially when other “sins” aren’t singled-out in the same way. Where’s the threat of the denial of the Eucharist to small-government conservatives who would dismantle the welfare-state that the Church generally supports in its call to provide for the basic needs of those most vulnerable, for example? Who was denied the Eucharist after the Clinton-era welfare reform?

  • tichy1

    Teddy made it easy for one to hate him.

  • foxy345

    There seem to be an awful lot of hate on this discussion board. For those of you who call themselves catholic…well done. You should be very proud of yourselves. Having mercy and respect for your religion and the dead. As well as those whose opinions are different than yours.

  • Mary_Cunningham

    He was a weak man and a sinner. I’m not sure he was evil. He attempted to atone by living the social gospel but he erred terribly by not realising that the children of the poor–and let’s face it, Yes, eliminate poverty, but don’t do it by eliminating the poor themselves or by allowing their children to be killed which is even worse. No wonder the Pope was silent.

  • Mary_Cunningham

    PS: Professor S-A,How can you be Yours sincerely,

  • DoTheRightThing

    The sentence, “Such a line of protest, however, would likely have denied St. Augustine a funeral mass because he fathered a child out of wedlock” is WRONG. Augustine REPENTED PUBLICLY while Edward M. Kennedy NEVER DID so.

  • heinpe

    As always with the Catholic Church, “Money Talks, Nobody Walks”. If Edward Kennedy had been an anonymous Joe from Southside, with all the same peccadilloes, he probably would have been denied a funeral mass.The rich – whether they wear suits or robes – are very different from you and me.

  • TX12345

    Of the 35-51 million (use your own number) aborted children, how many would have been covered by healthcare? I was told by my bishop if I voted for Obama I was committing a sin. Now I hear nothing — not one word — from my bishop about providing basic, affordable healthcare for every living human being. I agree with Athena4: get the babies born and then hope you get healthcare, hope you get an education, hope you make it kid because it’s not our problem.

  • austinruse

    There is a grave difference between personal sin, such as the sexual ones Kennedy carried out for much of his adult life and i suspect later sincerely repented and was forgiven, and his public support for a grave offense against justice and the natural law, which is abortion. There is no evidence that Kennedy ever repented of his acquiesance and even support of the deaths of upwards of 50 million defenseless unborn children. His public funeral was a scandal but I do understand Cardinal O’Malley and his reluctance not to do Armagedon-like battle with the entire political establishment in Massachusettes and the national Democratic thuggery who would have gleefully tried to take him down. It should be noted that at Rose Kennedy’s funeral, the altar was packed with concelebrating Bishops. At Ted’s? One Bishop sitting off to the side who did not even concelebrate. And at Arlington? One Bishop and no other priests. A message was sent by the Church that Kennedy was not to be celebrated. My complaint is that it was likely too subtle for most Catholics to get.

  • eflowrc

    A thank-you to ceflynline for the thoughtful and extensive clarification of my issue regarding scriptural authority. I am still uneasy with grandiose, elaborate ritual conducted in admittedly awe-inspiring architectural settings. My grandmother’s Catholic funeral was a modest and spiritually moving event in my life, yet it was no less INappropriate for public TV spectacle than was Senator Kennedy’s. We sin when we “worship” mortal celebrity. I doubt that our loving God makes a distinction between their respective souls (though my grandmother may have had less for which to atone).

  • Sentient1

    Anyone who considers the term “pro-abortion” to be proper immediately demonstrates to me their ignorance and nullifies any following statement or argument. To me it is no different than, when meeting someone for the first time, they feel it appropriate to make racial or sexist slurs…proving nothing of value could ever come from someone so misguided.

  • ThomasBaum

    eflowrc You wrote, “I doubt that our loving God makes a distinction between their respective souls”Two of the things that I was taught in second grade were: God is Love and We are all equal in God’s Eyes.I believe that these are two of the most important things I have learned in my life.After meeting God, I realized that God is a Being of Pure Love as in, Love is not an attribute of God but is God’s Very Being.And as far as, being equal in God’s Eyes, this does not mean that we are the same but that God cares for each and every one of us and that is why God has His Plan which He has had since before creation and His Plan will come to Fruition.I have said this before but I will repeat it: Even tho I use the masculine pronoun, God is not a He, a She or an It, even tho God-Incarnate was a Male, but is a Being of Pure Love, I use the masculine pronoun because it is handy to use pronouns sometimes.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • MeNU2

    After the Church’s stance against gay marriage here in DC, they should consider themselves lucky that a great humanitarian like Ted Kennedy still considered himself a Catholic. I’m Catholic but it is very hard to stay attached to a church that is against human rights and equality. These are NOT catholic principles–Ted Kennedy was a great example of a true catholic precisely because he fought against discrimination of those who are “different.” As far as I’m concerned, the Kennedy family gave the Church a lot of positive PR at a time when they desperately need it.

  • paulc2

    Menu2, As one Catholic to another, I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the Church’s positions, not only the what but the why, before you speak out against Chruch positions.The gay marriage issue is very much tied to Abortion and Artificial birth control. All three start with understanding the spiritual linkage between sex and procreation. Creating a life is indeed one of the most spiritual things man undertakes. A soul is created. ABC separates sex from its spritual goal, Gay Marriage does the same thing. Abortion takes it one step further and kills. These are all morally abhorent to Catholics. If you do not find these morally abhorent, you should ask yourself why not.

  • jama452

    Opponents to abortion rarely address, who will care for the unwanted children.

  • cconrad1

    I think the service for Senator Edward Kennedy was lovely. It provided me with great joy because I was reminded of what in the past has made the United States a great nation. It gave me hope that possibly the fine concepts upon which the nation was built have a chance of re-emerging, after having been deeply buried under anger and hatred for so many years.Senator Kennedy was a human being as well as a public figure. He deserved to have his life celebrated in a public mass. If the media choose to televise it, then that is their choice. There is no human being who has or ever will be, who will go to their death with out having been a sinner. The Senator is no different. But the good thing about the service is that it reminded us all – whether we believe in God or not – that it is possible to find redemption in this life and in the life to come.As for their being political statements made during the mass. Taking care of people is the core reason for the existence of government. Good government takes care of the poor, down-trodden, and even those who have sinned. This is where good government and good religion cross over. There is no surprise in that. This is why the celebration of the Mass is so important not just for Senator Kennedy but for all of us.

  • MikeL4

    “Opponents to abortion rarely address, who will care for the unwanted children.”JAMA452Really? Your argument is it is better to kill unwanted children, than to have them alive? Are you arguing it is better to be killed than raised in an orphanage? I guess the Church should close its orphanages around the world and just finish off all those “unwanted” children since you don’t think their lives will be worth a darn. Thinking that a human life is worth fighting for is not a “patriarchal” decision. It is part and parcel of Social Justice. A respect for the dignity of life from beginning to a natural end.

  • Sentient1

    Reply to PaulC2 who said “As one Catholic to another, I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the Church’s positions, not only the what but the why, before you speak out against Chruch positions.”Maybe it’s his familiarity with the church’s other positions, such as those taken to cover up and deny child abuse, that also helped to turn him away? The church has always worked to oppose social progress until such time that a public outcry of their antiquated and dogmatic policies becomes untenable, at which point they capitulate just enough to placate the masses and still maintain their hold on the minds of their constituents. We’d seen it with slavery, we’d seen it with woman’s suffrage, we’d seen it with the Native Americans, and we’re beginning to see it with homosexuality and evolution. Their stance on abortion? Only a matter of time my friend.

  • bodypolitic

    Yeah, it’s all about the fetuses. Never mind that Kennedy was responsible for SCHIP, which has saved the lives of millions of already-born children. But he was pro-choice, so he’s automatically condemned. Frankly, I tire of this red herring. The Catholic bishops annually call for universal coverage of the uninsured and supported the expansion of SCHIP. And are you seriously suggesting the Church doesn’t care for children in its hospitals, through Catholic Charities and other organizations such as the Society of St. Vincent dePaul? It’s a dog that just doesn’t hunt.

  • Judy-in-TX

    As I read all the responses here, 90 percent of which were radical posturing, there was a bit of light in the middle of this wall of hatred and contempt.

  • thebump

    “His legislative agenda came from Jesus’ instruction for how to measure a life”This is rank nonsense. Every item on Kennedy’s agenda, and his every public act, were calculated to concentrate power in the Washington political elite and to make America less free. There is nothing in the Gospels about that.Nor is there anything in the Gospels about watching a helpless woman drown, doing nothing, walking away to save your own skin, and then using your wealth, power and celebrity to beat the rap.While no one may judge Kennedy as an individual, we must not remain silent when some would hold him up for public honor.

  • Matthew_DC

    I appreciate much of what Ted Kennedy did legislatively, except for his position on “the topic”. In view of the seriousness of that topic, I think the Church should have kept the cameras out of the funeral mass. It gave the appearance of full approval, which surely is not helpful. Privately I think it is acceptable for him to have a Catholic funeral mass, and I wish him all the best. As my pastor put it in a sermon the day after the funeral, perhaps Senator Kennedy suffered from invincible ignorance on this topic. That is for him and God. It is no longer the concern of the living. His letter to the pope sounded like someone afflicted with self-doubt in his final months. About St. Augustine’s child, you are wrong to say it would have precluded a Catholic funeral mass. People sin and some genuinely repent. St. Paul participated in the killing of Christians before his conversion. The point of the faith is that a bad life, through repentance and grace, can be made good by God.

  • cornbread_r2

    For some time now a majority of Supreme Court Justices have been Catholic. With the appointment of Sotomayor, 6 of the 9 Justices are Catholic. What is stopping them from unilaterally overturning Roe v. Wade and ending all abortions in this country? Why aren’t they being publicly criticized by other Catholics for not having overturned it? Why do Catholic commentators characterize President Obama as a baby killer, but choose to ignore the role that these Catholic Justices play in the continuation of this practice?

  • tjmiller501

    You say “…this mass in a Roxbury church was not very much different from the funeral for any Catholic.”I am a Catholic and have attended more Catholic funerals than I care to recall. Some were wonderful tributes to the departed and some were stumbling by-the-book services for strangers. None was anything like the nationally televised tribute to Ted Kennedy, peopled by the Church’s most articulate priests and bishops. Which raises the question: What are you talking about?

  • paulc2

    Sentient1, you wrote:

  • dumbreddown

    Just when I think I understand the phrase “separation of church and state,” along come a bunch of Kennedys who tell me I can BEST be a good Catholic if I actively support socialist policies. Am I risking a midnight visit from the ACLU, if I commingle Catholic church attendance and socialist political action?

  • Climacus

    Stevens-Arroyo wrote: “This funeral mass showed that with growing boldness, many Catholics are professing our gospel commitment to social justice just as loudly as others speak on abortion. Both are Catholic passions.”Doesn’t the Catholic Catechism make clear that, to Catholics, the abortion issue IS a social justice issue – perhaps the most basic social justice issue? That protecting the right to life of the unborn is not a merely a “passion” but a “constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation” (and a non-negotiable tenet of the Magisterium)?

  • ccnl1

    Another leader of the now “Immoral Majority” has passed. No doubt the 35 million souls of aborted womb babies are taking their vengeance out on this womanizing, dirty old man!!!

  • tony55398

    Salvation for the unborn as well for all people springs not from law,but from the heart, from Love. Capitolism is as Godless as Communism and Socialism is not Communism.

  • arosscpa

    Leszx wrote “The Vatican, in turn, had someone – not the pope – send a reply “Commending (Kennedy) and the members of (his) family to the loving intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.”A more complete knowledge of Vatican protocol suggests the error in this argument. All routine correspondence is signed by the Vatican prefect over seeing the department with jurisdiction over the matter. Ordinarily, correspondence like that read in part by Cdl. McCarrick is signed by the Apostolic Penitentiary. However, the letter Mr. Kennedy received in reply to his hand-delivered letter to Pope Benedict was signed by Cdl. Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State. His duties include composing, signing, and transmitting official correspondence sent in the name of the Holy Father himself.The portions of this letter shared publicly, and the fact that Mr. Kennedy received the Rite of Committal twice, from two different cardinals, suggest that many of the comments critical of Mr. Kennedy’s Catholic public funeral and burial are completely opposed to the Church’s message that begins with the Holy Father himself.