is one of the most erudite priests I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
He is erudite without the slightest trace of rudeness in his taking to task those members of the faith who somehow fail to live up to the demands of the faith,
especially if those persons are members of the hierarchy.
In 1997 he wrote an article for Crisis Magazine which critically analyzed the funeral liturgy which had recently been celebrated in connection with
the death of United States Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, author of the majority opinion in the case Roe v Wade which destroyed all legislation in the fifty
states regulating abortion.
There are so many parallels between the secular spectacular of Brennans funeral and the secular spectacular of the Ted Kennedy funeral
that the editor of Crisis, now the website, put the essay written by Father Rutler twelve years ago on the website today.
Here it is for your edification and instruction:
On July 29, 1997, a representative philosophe of our abortion culture, retired Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, was lavishly eulogized in St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where the Requiem Mass for President Kennedy had been sung in 1963. Richard Cardinal Cushing was relatively constrained back then, because liturgical depredations had not yet switched into high gear. It was not thus when President Clinton, who vetoed the ban on partial-birth abortions, was permitted to announce to all corners of the cathedral for consumption in all corners of the world: “Brennan’s America is America at its best.” That is, internecine America is at its best with 39 million fewer children than would have been born were it not for Brennan’s eisegesis of the Constitution. Attorney General Janet Reno later said in a speech to the American Bar Association that the honors paid to Brennan in St. Matthew’s Cathedral inspired her to go on.
As Dr. Johnson conceded, in lapidary inscriptions no man is upon oath. To avoid testing this protocol in the sanctuary where only truth is to be spoken, eulogies were discouraged in more honest days when even romanticized charlatans and avuncular Caligulas could be buried, but with the crepe of contrition. Since Americans became persuaded that God is a Butterfly, funerals have started to resemble Jeanette Macdonald’s airy obsequies at Forest Lawn Cemetery in 1965, with canaries warbling fantasias in gilded cages. Nature had revenge when the canaries were released and dropped dead on the heads of mourners, victims of hot air and manifest incontinence. No such favor was granted on July 29 in St. Matthew’s Cathedral when a priest asked from the pulpit: “How does a young man, son of immigrants, rise to such a position of judicial pre-eminence, with almost the entire government present to honor him on the day of his burial?” It would have been lovely if St. Thomas More had dropped from Heaven right then. A brief glimpse of the saint’s head would have been a sufficient reply.
Once in a press conference in which he distanced himself from the angels on significant points of behavior, Senator Edward Kennedy said that St. Thomas More had been “intolerant.” The saint indeed had been intolerant, but of falseness. The logician in him would have found grotesque the Orwellian doublethink of the priest-eulogist who said that one way to honor Brennan’s memory would be to help “a young pregnant girl.” The jurist in him would have raised an eyebrow when the priest declared: “The Brennan mind met the Brennan heart, and in their perfect match was the secret greatness of our friend.” A meeting of mind and heart is anatomically difficult when there is a spine; and when More insisted on this point, his King obliged with an ax. In the majority opinion on Roe v. Wade, Brennan concurring, mind and heart congealed to produce the words: “If the human race is to survive, pregnancy will always be with us.” The twentieth century has taught that such banality can be the diction of cruelty incarnadine.
Senator Kennedy often seems innocent of historical information, as he was in an interview with an Italian reporter in 1982 when he placed the Battle of Lepanto in the Second World War. This has made him a much sought-after eulogist. Except for his recidivistic neglect of verbs, the rhetorical senator can excel Bossuet on the death of the Prince de Condé. At a requiem for Mr. Stephen Smith, he pictured his father and brothers playing golf on a cloud with his spontaneously beatified brother-in-law. The press quoted this recreational account of the Beatific Vision with murmurs of approval.
It is not that Senator Kennedy should have said anything tactless over the corpse, or that he should have mentioned some more vigorous sport instead; he simply should not have been saying anything at all from the pulpit. If Horace Walpole thought Dante was a “Methodist parson in Bedlam,” anyone who believes in the Four Last Things might take Senator Kennedy in the pulpit for a therapist in Camelot. The misguided may excuse this because “funerals are really for the family,” but that is not so: consolation of the bereaved is a derivative benefit of the first purpose of the funeral rites, which is the offering of prayer and eucharistic sacrifice for the dead. When that purpose is not understood, the rites themselves may succumb to parallel intuitions of stoicism and sentimentalism. Mix the two into an incongruous brew, and the reaction is nervous banter around the coffin, and self-conscious whimsy.
Senator Kennedy is not to be blamed more than some clergymen who blow kisses to reality from a distance. Some years ago, when a prominent athlete died after a raucous life, a prelate from a cathedral pulpit described Christ the Umpire calling “Safe!” as the man slid into home plate. The shaky metaphysic was not what St. Paul meant by running the race. Gone, long gone, is the quality of unction that moved a holy friar in Paris centuries ago to preach exquisitely over a one man slum of a bishop who had died in a lady’s arms: “Perhaps Monseigneur’s only mistakes were his manner of living and his manner of dying.” Any public figure who is subject of the prayers of such a friar must have a happier frame of mind on the other side of the grave than one whose presumption is frivolously vested as grace.
The Church’s rubrics require that anything edifying in the deceased’s life be mentioned only as commentary on the Gospel. Our “Culture of Death,” as John Paul II called it, is idiosyncratic in its refusal to be cogent about the Gospel mystery of death itself. In its rejection of moral reality, this lurid cultural paradigm mocks the imperatives of the mystery by applauding the guilty as cold-bloodedly as it destroys the innocent. Where the idol worshipped by a culture is one’s public image, even candor must be sacrificed to it; and when only the self is celebrated, celebrity canonizes itself. All the Holy Sonnets are replaced by one unholy bravado: “Death be proud.”
The noble pagans flattered and flowered their dead because they could not absolve them. De mortuis nihil nisi bonum is not a Christian dictum; speaking nothing but good of the dead translates the Spartan decency of Chilon who lived six centuries before the incarnation of the Redeemer. Chilon was a wise magistrate himself, and as merciful as a Spartan could be, but his mercy was not that of Christ the Judge, for Chilon had no power to summon the dead: “Come forth!” The noble pagan tried to make the best of a bad thing, urging a social convention born of pessimism. The mercy of God changes pessimism to hope, and hope is the engine of honesty. In obedience to the Divine Mercy, speaking well of the dead may sometimes require not speaking good of the dead. However many different ways there are to say it, everyone has the same eulogy: “There is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments.”
For some, those words are a bit too terse. In a more florid tribute to Brennan, but snobbishly for a populist, Father Robert Drinan of the Georgetown University Law Center wrote: “When we think of Irish Catholics in public life we usually call to mind mayors, local officials and, yes, ward bosses. Brennan shattered all those images. He was an intellectual, a visionary, a prophet…. His memory will be forever held in benediction.” Although Drinan made no allusion to Mount Sinai, he did compare Brennan favorably with the author of the Code of Hammurabi.
Even in our coarse times, a remnant etiquette should prevail in moments of emotional strain. A veil is drawn over those who grieve, and if Edward Kennedy and Robert Drinan can support each other in mourning the death of William Brennan, they should be allowed to do so. But when they publish their grief, they invite remark. They may even conjure commentary from gaunt ghosts long dead who can tutor lesser cynics in calculation. For all his odd little ways with God, preternaturally cynical Napoleon held trimmers of the Gospel in contempt even as he made use of them. As Talleyrand, ex-bishop of Autun, approached him arm in arm with Joseph Fouché, the ex-Oratorian brother and agent of the Terror, Napoleon muttered: “Vice on the arm of crime.” From time to time, there actually appear on the public scene individuals who can fit that description by hugging themselves.
Descent to the phosphorescent obsequiousness of Mr. Justice Brennan’s funeral was greased by the efficient compact John F. Kennedy made in his run for the presidency, telling the Protestant clergymen in Houston that he would never be under the thumb of a pope. He should have stuck to the advice of Pius VII on the lengths of accommodation: “We are prepared to go to the gates of Hell, but no further.” After Kennedy nudged public Catholicism from the snows of Canossa to the sands of Palm Beach, eulogists claimed that his gnostic kind of religiosity was Catholicism come of age, but it was Catholicism ashamed of its age: God’s good servant, but the King’s first.
In Camelot this was hailed as prudence, though it was little more than cunning. St. Thomas Aquinas knew it as astutia: morally neutral in its original meaning, but vicious as an excuse for imprudence. It exploited a tribalism that was willing to wink at the roguish ways of any one of the boys who moved on up from the ranks of mayors and ward bosses to become accepted by the chattering classes as “an intellectual, a visionary, a prophet.”
One of its kitchiest ikons was a painting commissioned by Monsignor Aloysius Dineen of New York, showing Pope John XXIII and President Kennedy together feeding doves. The painting has been removed from the church where it first hung, but it still prompts to panegyrics those who think that Kennedy made it possible for a Catholic to become president, when he only made it possible for a Catholic who behaves like a modern Episcopalian to become president. One positive item salvaged by John Kennedy from his Anglo-Saxon formation was a line repeated every year by the headmaster of the Choate School, the Rev. George St. John: “Ask not what your school can do for you, ask what you can do for your school.” He absorbed the words until he felt free to modify them, as he also did with the Ten Commandments. His extended family may now be in the process of doing the same even to the Code of Hammurabi.
Before there was a White House, Jesus Christ spoke of whited sepulchers. I do not know if this would fall under the category of what former-Congressman Joseph Kennedy allegedly referred to as “Catholic gobbledygook,” but Christ did say it, and he said it because he disdained hypocrisy. According to our friend Dr. Johnson, who was more intuitively Catholic than many putative Catholics: “No man is a hypocrite in his pleasures.” If churchmen insist on eulogizing, they might get right to the point by describing what sort of pleasures occupied the dead in their lifetimes. The thought could restrain them from jumping into celebrity graves. It certainly would temper any propensity for Shakespeare’s “Sweet words, low-crooked curtsies, and base spaniel fawning.”
Surreal Catholicism has spawned a neurotic parade of celebrities who think incense is a form of aromatheraphy, and a harrowing pantheon of politicians who consult L’Osservatore Romano less than George magazine. What panegyrics will be gassed over them within the House of God? We have cause for concern, given the precedent of the Maeterlinck “there is no death” sort of poetry read over the body of Mrs. Jacqueline Onassis by her house mate.
In the moral order, one may not pass final judgment on another. Savanarola called that to the attention of a bishop who was damning him to all eternity. One is also required to make temporal judgments according to one’s state in life. That is why there are judges. That is why there are social institutions, beginning with the family. That, above all, is why there is a Church endowed with supernal keys and censures. Madness consists in the inability to make right judgments, and it is the very definition of depravity beyond madness to fail to perceive the need for right judgments at all. Our present problem is not the arrogance of damning souls to hell. The plague is of courtiers who subpoena charity to defend sloth and, having so dazzled the jury, proceed to judge publicly that their little lords are in heaven.
The Brennan funeral followed one in Miami for Mr. Gianni Versace, the rich Italian tailor whose work, according to a breathless release from the Catholic News Service, was “noted for its sensual lines and eye-catching combinations of texture and shade.” His priest-eulogist baroquely envisioned the murdered man decorating the wings of angels, and recalled a promise that if he became pope he would have Versace design the cardinals’ robes. Well then, the eulogy might have ornamented sacred rhetoric by adapting Evelyn Waugh’s assessment of Anthony Eden: “He is not a gentleman. He dresses too well.” Instead, the preacher burst into song: some lines from a popular Broadway show tune, a toe-tapper to be sure, but not quite up to the “Dies Irae.” Then the neurasthenia went international: another requiem for Versace in the cathedral of Milan featured Elton John and Sting tearfully crooning on the spot where Ambrosian chant was invented.
Later that summer, as Byrd and Handel and Elgar rolled in their graves and the Great Organ of Westminster Abbey was hushed, Mr. John, now raised to the rank of universal banshee, wailed on a piano for the Princess of Wales who was “the real Queen” according to television reporters who could not tell a Plantagenet from an eggplant. Using as theme music Mr. John’s song originally written for Marilyn Monroe, solemn newscasters morphed Diana with Mother Teresa whom CNN sidelined as “another notable and good woman.” It was like the time Ulysses S. Grant told the second Duke of Wellington that he understood his father had also been a military man. Great Wellington, as a man upon oath all his life, would have been a singular eulogist. When a London mob, demonstrating adoration for George IV’s hapless and estranged Caroline of Brunswick, threatened to not let him pass until he cheered her, the Iron Duke answered from his high horse: “Well, gentlemen, since you will have it so — ‘God save her!’ — and may all your wives be like her.”
There may be those who agree with the above, but confide that it would be better all around if it were not said. In the second volume of the Historical Sketches, introducing Chrysostom, John Henry Newman cautiously refers to “the endemic perennial fidget which possesses us about giving scandal; facts are omitted in great histories, or glosses are put upon memorable acts, because they are thought not edifying, whereas of all scandals such omissions, such glosses, are the greatest.”
How odd it is that a society that has made a fashion of apologizing for every auto da fé in Spain and every slave auction in Savannah will not apologize for sycophancy and cynicism. Many, apparently, do not have time to go to confession because they are too busy begging public forgiveness for the slaughter of Hypatia. Gratuitous apologizing for the crimes of other ages and people is dangerous humbug, said C. S. Lewis; it weighs in well with the press, but less so on the scales of justice, for it can be detraction masked as contrition. At the same time, Never Never Land finds indecipherable what C. S. Lewis meant by authentic penance and accountability.
If eulogies are not sensibly stopped, I do hope they will be more precise than what was said at Justice Brennan’s cathedral rites: “Wisdom tells us that the souls of the just are in the hands of God.” I am all for wisdom. So much so, that I question whether we are to assume that a man is just by having been declared a Justice by his government. I am so much for wisdom that I fear the souls of the unjust might be in the fists of God. I am even so much for wisdom that I hope a merciful God will not squeeze his fists too tightly. And I am so completely for wisdom that I remember how the finger of God once wrote a eulogy on the wall of Belshazzar’s feast. From the perspective of those who thought Belshazzar charming, the graffiti was in bad taste. But the party was over, and the sweet singing canaries were dead on the floor.

The Rev. George W. Rutler is the pastor of the Church of our Saviour in New York City. His latest book, A Crisis of Saints: The Call to Heroic Faith in an Unheroic World, 2nd edition, is available from the Crossroad Publishing Company. This article originally appeared in the November 1997 issue of Crisis Magazine.


Quote(1) More On Funeral Eulogies
September 05th, 2009 | 6:52am
Cardinal O’Malley, like so many of our other illustrious and courageous bishops, misses the point in his defense of providing Kennedy with all the smells, bells, and trappings of a State funeral.

It is IRRELEVANT to Kennedy’s funeral whether or not he was repentent before his death, confessed his sins and hence entitled to a Catholic funeral. That is a PRIVATE affair.

What disqualifies him, and all other pro-abort Catholic politicians, from a PUBLIC Catholic funeral is the fact that Kennedy was a prominent (in some people’s eyes) PUBLIC Catholic figure and because he was a PUBLIC Catholic figure, his advancing PUBLIC support for abortion (a heinous sin in Catholic moral teaching) caused a PUBLIC scandal and a scandal within the Catholic Church itself. It was these PUBLIC positions on abortion that REQUIRED Kennedy to make a PUBLIC declaration disavowing his PUBLIC position before he would warrant a PUBLIC Catholic funeral.

Please, someone get this message to all the bishops before they plan the funerals for the likes of Biden, Pelosi, Daschle, Harkin and the other prominant Catholics who have taken very PUBLIC positions on this great moral evil of our time. And please, even if the funeral is scaled down, omit Obama as the eulogist; it’s just not fitting at a large Catholic PUBLIC funeral.

Written by Anonymous

September 05th, 2009 | 8:08am
That is THE best commentary I have ever read on the nonsense that passes for Catholicism these days.

Lord, that Priest can write.

Written by I am not Spartacus

Quote(3) Troubled Catholic
September 05th, 2009 | 8:12am
I have been very troubled at the ambiguity of some of the clegy of our poor, maligned Catholic Church. These hypocritical, fawning funerals of apparently fallen catholics and tolerance of those who patently disapprove of our dogmas and adherence to the Magesteriam should NOT be given a platform in the CHURCH!!!!! What on earth are these clergy thinking?? Have they no spine? I pray for the day that those in concert with the church stand up and shout instead of slinking and “tolerating” the shots that are heard around the world against our Church. What other religion has to tolerate such slander?
Written by Vin

Quote(4) Right on the spot
September 05th, 2009 | 9:00am
Father, thank you.
If we had one hundred priests with a spine like yours,
we’d be ten thousand times better off.
And that was one of my favorites:
“A meeting of mind and heart is anatomically difficult when there is a spine”
Saint Thomas Moore,
Written by Tatiana

Quote(5) Are the Bisops Concerned?
September 05th, 2009 | 9:23am
Another thing happened at the funeral Mass for Sen. Ted Kennedy. Cardinal O’Malley spoke to President Obama. I have read his statement and the statements of other bishops on ObamaCare. Are they concerned about the WHOLE ObamaCare package?

According to a Boston Globe article on 9-3-09(Cardinal urges civility over abortion issue), Cardinal O’Malley told the President that the Catholic bishops are “anxious to support a plan for universal health care, but we will not support a plan that will include a provision for abortion…”

Has anyone talked to the bishops about the many dangers in supporting the destruction of our the health care system if they could only get Obama to not include abortion in it. I agree with not including abortion, but ObamaCare will be a disaster for most everyone and it will lead to euthanasia because there will have to be major cuts in services especially to the sick and the aged.

Are the bishops concerned about how the government will pay for the massive re-engineering of our healthcare? They should be very concerned about how it will be detrimental to the vast majority sitting in their pews and who currently have health coverage.

Are the bishops concerned about the huge cost projections for ObamaCare? They should be concerned about the huge debts and interest payments being forced upon us and our children. It’s wrong! It’s immoral and unethical! It’s stealing money from us and future generations. The bishops should insist that the government must fund the unfunded Social Security – Medicare – Medicaid Programs first. They should tell the government to not take on any new huge liabilities.

Are the bishops concerned about centralizing the power over our health coverages in the hands of politicians and the federal government? They should be telling the government to not expand its power with a massive increasing bureaucracy.

The whole ObamaCare train needs to SLOW DOWN. There are many smaller things that can be implemented over time to provide basic healthcare to every citizen. Please, someone get this message to all the bishops before they openly support the destruction of our healthcare system and the demoralization of many healthcare professionals who are already threatening to leave healthcare altogether.

Written by Anonymous

Quote(6) Bravo!
September 05th, 2009 | 9:57am
William F. Buckley himself would place a distant second to Father Rutler when it comes to composition.
Written by GJB

Quote(7) Great article
September 05th, 2009 | 10:44am
I enjoyed this article and agree whole heartedly. God bless you to keep on presenting the truth for everyone to read.
Written by Ted

Quote(8) Boston: a cesspool of sick, twisted
September 05th, 2009 | 11:23am
Cardinal O’Malley did us all a favor by writing so extensively about the Kennedy funeral. By doing so, he left no room for doubt: He is a starstruck, politically naive sycophant. He gushed over a dozen irrelevant matters, primarily the presence of famous and/or powerful people. He revealed himself as befuddled about “Catholic Social Teaching”–unreflectively, reflexively, identifying it with leftist, collectivist nostrums.

While mouthing concern for “a grieving family” (whose grief could hardly be expected to be salved in the absence of opera singers, Presidents, and television cameras), he turns harsh words (and not for the first time) on pro-lifers. He is, in that respect, a very typical American bishop, a type I call “anti-pro-life.” “Why can’t those obnoxious people realize that we have a special day each year, January 22nd, set aside for being concerned about abortion.”

Donald Monan, SJ, was a suitable principal celebrant at the beatification of Edward Kennedy. Three-and-a-half weeks after the shooting death of Shannon Lowney, alumna of Boston College and abortion clinic worker, the college’s then-President, Donald Monan, presided at a memorial Mass at which the tears and eulogies overflowed for this paragon of the ideals of B.C. and Surreal Catholicism–to use Fr. Rutler’s mot juste.

The Catholic Church in America is sick unto death. Read Cardinal Sean’s blog to examine the disease at close range.

Written by Fr. Joseph

Quote(9) Eulogies belong in our hearts!
September 05th, 2009 | 11:31am
Excellent, Fr. Rutler! Would that all bishops would read this and take it to heart, where all eulogies should stay! Priests’ homilies at Masses for the dead should relate to how the person lived out his Baptismal promises and how he preached the Gospel message by his life. Others can be given an opportunity to say how that person touched their lives, at a different venue, not at a funeral Mass. Actually, I truly believe that we can and should keep all eulogies of those who have fallen asleep, as St. Paul called it, in our hearts. It reminds us to pray for their souls and doesn’t canonize people, especially the media readily do. According to the media, Ted Kennedy, Michael Jackson, and other such “celebrities” are right now in heaven with the angels. They are quite sure about that!

Again, excellent article and truly a wonderful read!

Written by prayerwarrior4Jesus

Quote(10) Re: Anonymous’ post
September 05th, 2009 | 11:52am
Fr. Rutler’s article is classy … as one expects from his pen.

Quote(11) Please pray for our Church
September 05th, 2009 | 12:13pm
Our Church is falling apart. I hope and pray, and hold on to the
words that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. We must be pretty close. The Shepard’s are not leading
and the flock is scattered.
Written by Please pray for the Church

Quote(12) A most relevant Blog post
September 05th, 2009 | 1:15pm

Cardinal O’Malley has a problem with Catholics who have expressed righteous anger over Senator Kennedy’s scandalous funeral. He calls us judgmental and angry. This post is a must read.

Written by michael cole

Quote(13) That Blog post url…
September 05th, 2009 | 1:25pm
That Blog post url seems problematic. But the post is the latest at La Salette Journey.
Written by Susan

Quote(14) Thank you
September 05th, 2009 | 1:35pm
Thank You so much Rev. for putting this whole situation with Ted Kennedy’s and other prominent politican’s funerals into the proper perspective. For some of us, our loyalty to our faith is the most important thing in our lives. To get so many mixed messages from different Bishops, priests and other clergy can lead to confusion. I was always taught to pray for priests and the clergy and not criticize. This is not always an easy task. When Cardinal O’Malley pretty much lambasted all that disagreed with this very proud and public funeral, it has no doubt left some of us confused and dismayed. I do not want to criticize this bishop, but I do want to understand the Truth. I think you helped me with that today. Thank you once again, and may God bless you.
Written by Laurie

Quote(15) What he said…
September 05th, 2009 | 1:48pm
Can’t say it better than I am not Spartacus. I agree with his comment 100%. And thanks Fr. Joseph and Mr. Cole for the links.
Written by Pammie

Quote(16) Sometimes even a Bishop needs to be corrected
September 05th, 2009 | 2:13pm
Not even a Bishop is beyond fraternal correction.
Written by Derek

Quote(17) The Cardinal’s mercy and bad Liturgy
September 05th, 2009 | 2:17pm
Fr. Rutler brings us back to reality without damning the departed. Eulogies are appropriate at a Wake;also, at a reception afterwards.
Kennedy was a national figure and that required a public burial, but unlike the homily that was read, the Mass is above all an INTERCESSION FOR THE DEPARTED as the MAIN point of it. Control over the petitions also got out of hand. There should have been one for the aborted or for pro-life and another for family based on Marriage, given Kennedy’s public support for same-sex “unions”. But I have to add, that K. REALLY took seriously his role to help the common man. Denied the wisdom of Catholic education by his father, he really only had the effects of his mother’s piety to influence him (and it DID in moments of tragedy and failure) he thought that a woman had the legal right to call the shot on the innocent guest in her womb, a collosal blindness, yet with mitigating factors. Likewise, his womanizing which he finally stopped with his second marriage. He treated people well, did much personal charity for the common man,and was by nature large-hearted. This does not canonize him, but it gives confidence he was saved. Purgatory is what should have been emphasized in the Liturgy.Liturgically the most beautiful part was the exquisite rendition by the mezzo-soprano with a most resonant tone of voice that the cello fitted perfectly that by its unhurried length arrested the attention even of Hilary, and Obama was visibly attentive.
Written by pete

Quote(19) Love this…
September 05th, 2009 | 4:52pm
“One of its kitchiest ikons was a painting commissioned by Monsignor Aloysius Dineen of New York, showing Pope John XXIII and President Kennedy together feeding doves. The painting has been removed from the church where it first hung…”

Any takers that the fingerprints left on the painting during the removal exactly match the good reverend’s?


Written by NYa

Quote(20) The Kennedy Eulogy
September 05th, 2009 | 4:55pm

For days I have been reading and watching the Kennedy drama being played in every medium. I have digested some emotional statements on both sides. I have seen “former” Catholics intruding in a controversy that involves only Catholics. I have drawn the following conclusions.

The senator wrote a letter to the pope and had it hand delivered by the president of the United States. Who but Ted Kennedy would have the effrontery to do this? Is this the mark of a penitent sinner? If the senator were repentant he had merely to phone his parish priest. The pope has no greater or less power to grant absolution in the sacrament than the local priest.

I don’t know who crafted the spectacle that passed for the senator’s requiem or who compiled the guest list but it surely was majestic. However, a drama that featured the President of the United States and a supporting cast of former presidents, sports heroes, Hollywood personalities and the like does not square with the solemnity that should characterize the requiem mass in which those close to the deceased unite in prayer and devotion.

Whatever the fate of the senator may have been, his memorial was ostentatious and in bad taste.

Written by Francis J. Donovan

Quote(21) “Of all scandals such glosses are the greatest”
September 05th, 2009 | 5:32pm
“John Henry Newman cautiously refers to “the endemic perennial fidget which possesses us about giving scandal; facts are omitted in great histories, or glosses are put upon memorable acts, because they are thought not edifying, whereas of all scandals such omissions, such glosses, are the greatest.”

I would’ve pasted this in the Boston Cardinal’s blog if they hadn’t closed the Comments…perhaps to Fr Rosica instead…

Written by g

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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