Cardinal Sean responds

Cardinal O'Malley responds on his blog to critics who wanted him to deny Senator Kennedy a Catholic funeral, or a public funeral, or that at the least, he should not have attended or presided. (I'm actually not clear as to what it was in his power to do--could he have denied Kennedy a Catholic funeral?)The cardinal's column is, I think, a forceful response to his critics and a forceful enunciation of the pro-life message, and a perceptive appreciation of what the Kennedy clan has done.Oh, and His Eminence reveals that he got in some health care lobbying time with President Obama at the funeral, which was very Kennedyesque--and likely to confound critics of both men.O'Malley writes:

There are those who objected, in some cases vociferously, to the Churchs providing a Catholic funeral for the Senator. In the strongest terms I disagree with that position. At the Senators interment on Saturday evening, with his familys permission, we learned of details of his recent personal correspondence with Pope Benedict XVI. It was very moving to hear the Senator acknowledging his failing to always be a faithful Catholic, and his request for prayers as he faced the end of his life. The Holy Fathers expression of gratitude for the Senators pledge of prayer for the Church, his commendation of the Senator and his family to the intercession of the Blessed Mother, and his imparting the Apostolic Blessing, spoke of His Holiness role as the Vicar of Christ, the Good Shepherd who leaves none of the flock behind.As Archbishop of Boston, I considered it appropriate to represent the Church at this liturgy out of respect for the Senator, his family, those who attended the Mass and all those who were praying for the Senator and his family at this difficult time. We are people of faith and we believe in a loving and forgiving God from whom we seek mercy.[snip]We are for the precious gift of life, and our task is to build a civilization of love. We must show those who do not share our belief about life that we care about them. We will stop the practice of abortion by changing the law, and we will be successful in changing the law if we change peoples hearts. We will not change hearts by turning away from people in their time of need and when they are experiencing grief and loss.At times, even in the Church, zeal can lead people to issue harsh judgments and impute the worst motives to one another. These attitudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church. If any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness, it will be doomed to marginalization and failure. Jesus words to us were that we must love one another as He loves us. Jesus loves us while we are still in sin. He loves each of us first, and He loves us to the end. Our ability to change peoples hearts and help them to grasp the dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to increase love and unity in the Church, for our proclamation of the Truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other.

You can also read my take on it at PoliticsDaily.Also likely to generate discussion on things Kennedy is the NYT's sneak peek at Teddy's memoir.

David Gibson is the director of Fordham’s Center on Religion & Culture.

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