Friday, September 04, 2009

With All Due Respect ... [UPDATED]

... to Cardinal O'Malley, for whom I have great admiration, Fr. Z, Red Cardigan, and Larry D. are correct: the Cardinal's explanation - which, among other things downplays the role and extent of Sen. Kennedy's rabid abortion advocacy in causing much of the political divisiveness that exists among Catholics (a divisiveness that His Eminence appears more eager to blame, instead, on those who are outspoken in opposition to abortion) - leaves much to be desired.

Yes, Sen. Kennedy was entitled to a Catholic burial Mass. And, given the prominence of the Kennedy family, I have a hard time arguing against the presence of the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston at his funeral. So, I don't take issue with His Eminence on those matters. Still, the celebratory and overtly political aspect of the funeral was deeply troubling to many, and Cardinal O'Malley has done absolutely nothing to address that. In fact, I believe his explanation, by focusing on how "uncharitable" Sen. Kennedy's pro-life detractors are, makes things worse.

But perhaps the Cardinal's blaming the pro-life zealotry of Kennedy's detractors is understandable if one takes at face value this particular exercise in understatement from Cardinal O'Malley, which makes Sen. Kennedy's postion on abortion sound downright benign (emphasis and commentary are Fr. Z's):
Needless to say, the Senator’s wake and Catholic funeral were controversial because of the fact that he did not publically support Catholic teaching and advocacy on behalf of the unborn. [That is certainly one way to put it. Another way to put it is that he aggressively promoted laws expanding abortion.] ­­­Given the profound effect of Catholic social teaching on so many of the programs and policies espoused by Senator Kennedy and the millions who benefitted from them, there is a tragic sense of lost opportunity in his lack of support for the unborn. [There is also a tragic sense of lost life of the unborn.] To me and many Catholics it was a great disappointment because, had he placed the issue of life at the centerpiece of the Social Gospel where it belongs, he could have multiplied the immensely valuable work he accomplished.
(I like Red Cardigan's fisking of this passage even better, but in the interest of brevity, I went with Fr. Z's. But definitely check out Red Cardigan's.)

Commenting at Red Cardigan's blog, Sr. Lorraine responds to Cardinal O'Malley, and perfectly captures what I find most troubling about his explanation:
Sr. Lorraine said...

Dear Cardinal O’Malley,

I have been pondering Pope Benedict’s words in his new encyclical “Charity in Truth”:

“To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity.”

To speak the truth is an indispensable form of charity, especially when that truth is unpopular. Our society does not want to hear that the unborn child must not be killed.

Despite whatever good he did, Senator Kennedy spent the better part of his long political career actively working for legislation that would favor abortion. That is not a judgment; it is part of the public record. He even voted in favor of partial-birth abortion, a horrendous procedure in which the baby’s brains are sucked out.

He did immense damage to the pro-life movement. Is that of any consequence in the eyes of the bishops?

While we pray in charity for his soul, it is indeed a deep scandal for the Church to imply that his record on abortion is of no consequence. I realize you were in a difficult position, but I am deeply disappointed that the overall impression given by the funeral was that it doesn’t really matter if a Catholic politician ardently supports abortion.

Who is speaking up for the millions of innocents who have been slaughtered and continue to die every day?

While Ted Kennedy had a magnificent funeral, these innocent children are thrown into dumpsters. And no one weeps.

September 3, 2009 9:33 PM
I'm beginning to get the feeling that our own Bishops don't really, themselves, believe about abortion what they claim it to be.

Seriously, I'm really starting to wonder - if our Bishops are unwilling to do the heavy lifting of taking to task even those publicly prominent Catholics who are the most radical advocates for abortion, and if all that pro-lifers get for our efforts is a kick in the teeth from our own shepherds - why we even bother. Why should we take upon ourselves the derision and scorn that our fellow countrymen, that our fellow Catholics who are more "enlightened" and "thoughtful" than we, and that, quite often, many of our own Bishops heap upon us?

In the end, I suppose we bother because, while the Princes of the Church are busy rubbing elbows with and paying homage to Caesar, someone needs to weep for those innocent dead children in the dumpsters.

(Hat tip: Don McClarey at The American Catholic)

UPDATE (7 September)
Carl Olsen hits the nail on the head!
... Once again, it's interesting how easy it is to chastise pro-life Catholic bloggers for being "vicious" and "bullying" and "sowing seeds of hatred" and being "agents of destruction and violence", but how hard it is to state the facts about Sen. Kennedy's public record. I suppose it was Kennedy's good fortune that he was never a pro-life Catholic blogger, otherwise he might have had to face public criticism from Catholic clergy.

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At 9/04/2009 9:14 AM, Blogger Tom McKenna said...

And while Kennedy has a colorable right to a Catholic funeral, it did not have to be elevated by the presence of the Cardinal, who should have left it to the parish priest... to show up and get all obsequious with the politicians present made it look an awful lot like O'Malley was interested more in sharing in the limelight than he was in the scandal given by such a high-profile burial for a man who never publicly retracted his highly public abortion advocacy.

Ditto for Bsp. Wuerl.

While not denying Kennedy his Catholic burial, to which he might have been technically entitled, these bishops could have sent a strong message by the absence.

At 9/04/2009 9:15 AM, Blogger Tom McKenna said...

by their absence...

At 9/04/2009 9:34 AM, Blogger Rick said...

Without a doubt, it is politicized as the incumbent has to push a pro-abortion agenda. So, the morale has to be kept up as focus is shifted from the 50+ million who died because of Kennedy's legislative moves or lack thereof. But, the pro-abortions cannot be stalled or destracted; so they need to push the healthcare proposal that will fund more abortions, 10 times more. If that goes on, then 30 years from new, half a billion murders would have occurred. It is appalling and unconscionable that certain Church officials will downplay the evils caused by pro-abortion politicians. But what is sure that there will be justice for these murdered people, if not here then in the hereafter even if Obama & the cardinal assures everyone of Kennedy's salvation. They do not hold the keys of heaven and chances are Kennedy may be damned for eternity.

At 9/04/2009 10:21 AM, Blogger LarryD said...

Thanks for the link, Jay. I'm honored you read my lil ol blog.

At 9/04/2009 12:37 PM, Blogger Dad29 said...

Another reason to 'bother' is that we are responsible for our own salvation.

And the Bishops are responsible for theirs.

At 9/05/2009 10:24 AM, Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

I wonder if anyone in Catholic circles is celebrating Sen. Kennedy's opposition to the Marriage Amendment when it was before the Senate. In one debate, he called the Catholic position, the marriage is between a man and a woman, "bigotry," when he said that he opposed enshrining bigotry in the Constitution.

Kennedy said that Card. O'Malley is bigot. O'Malley was much nicer.

At 9/06/2009 10:00 PM, Anonymous lara said...

"..In the end, I suppose we bother because, while the Princes of the Church are busy rubbing elbows with and paying homage to Caesar, someone needs to weep for those innocent dead children in the dumpsters."

Rather than pounce on a dead Senator or slap around a living Cardinal, I'm going to guess that the souls of these children will say to these men all that needs to be said.


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