Cardinal O’Malley discusses Sen. Kennedy’s funeral

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley (CNS/Bob Roller)

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley (CNS/Bob Roller)

“I wish to address our Catholic faithful who have voiced both support and disappointment at my having presided” at the Aug. 29 funeral Mass for Sen. Edward Kennedy at a Boston basilica, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston writes in an entry posted last night on his blog.

He acknowledges that wake and Catholic funeral for Kennedy were “controversial because he did not publicly support Catholic teaching and advocacy on behalf of the unborn.”

“Given the profound effect of Catholic social teaching on so many of the programs and policies espoused by Senator Kennedy and the millions who benefited from them, there is a tragic sense of lost opportunity in his lack of support for the unborn,” he says. “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.”

However, he says: “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 a people of faith,” he continues, “and we believe in a loving and forgiving God from who we seek mercy.”

UPDATE: Read our story on what guides decisions on a Catholic funeral.

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26 Responses to Cardinal O’Malley discusses Sen. Kennedy’s funeral

  1. Rick Evans says:

    It seems to me that what should be of prime importance to Catholics, and to bishops in particular, is the picture that is painted when those that facilitate the destruction of human life are lauded in Catholic forums. Cardinal O’Malley is very eloquent in defending the choice he made when he added an air of legitimacy to the grand spectacle of adulation for the senator. I don’t think he should have done that.

    In the prayers for the faithful the little Kennedy boy reading them certainly can’t be held responsible for the political plug that was made for the pending health care bill. But someone should be responsible. It was terribly inappropriate given its ongoing controversy.

    I wonder if the cardinal is as concerned for the, many times viable, infant human life that is destroyed in his diocese. By not speaking out loudly and often against the killings, and just hoping that human hearts are somehow changed, our bishops appear to lack a sense of urgency about abortion. He certainly demonstrated a great pastoral concern for the senator, but what about the babies. Shouldn’t he be giving the same level of sympathy, concern and importance to every fetus that is destroyed.

    The churches recent coddling of Catholic pro-choice political figures has done great damage to its credibility

  2. Joe Magaratz says:

    Judge not that you be not judged! Enough from the “SuperCatholics!”

  3. Mike Kupec says:

    I’m dissapointed in the Catholic c hurch giving Sen Kennedy all this hoopla at his funeral. I objec t that Pres Obama made a political euligy. Here was a man who had so much power in the senate that he could of had overturned the ABORTION OF INNOCENT BABIES MURDERED IN THE MOTHER’S WOMB, instead he believed the woman had a free choice to do as she pleases. .CAN YOU IMAGINE IF WE ALL HAD A FREE CHOICE TO DO WHAT WE WANT TO DO? THE GOOD LORD OUR GOD WOULD HAVE DESTROYED US. by eartquakes, tornadoes, floods, and deadly fires, we’ve been l;uc ky so far? That’s the reason our forefathers founded this country on the principles of the TEN COMMANDMENTS. I’m sure Ed Kennedy is having a tough time explaining to St. Peter at the Golden Gates .
    May God have Merc y on his soul. AMEN

  4. Our so-called “Super Catholics” are always screaming about abortion and the “euthanasia. ” Where are they when women & children are marginalized by the government (healthcare, reproductive, rape/incest), the poor are voiceless & un-represented in civic decisions that affect them more than not, and, my personal favorite, the Death penalty. All of the things I mentioned concern the right to life, as well as protecting the dignity of the Person. Our lives cannot be wrapped up in defending one aspect of being “pro-life;” each men must make informed personal choices that he can live iwth, in harmony with his Church and his God.

  5. jim o'sullivan says:

    I tried to post this on O’Malley’s blog but they won’t accept it.

    “Your presence there was inappropriate and self-serving.

    You sent a wrong message.”

  6. Maybe if you can clearly explain to me the reason that you feel Cardinal O’Malley was “inappropriate and self-serving;” then maybe you can figure out why they wouldn’t post your message on the blog.
    We must use our free speech in a responsible and respectful manner, or our message is lost in the screaming & ignored by those who should be reading it in order to gauge the ‘heat’ of the conversation.

  7. Ed Palinurus says:

    To Jim O Sullivan and Mike Kubec …..

    Your posts highlight your hypocrisy. The Church teaches that abortion is intrinsically wrong. It does not teach that failing to support the Democrat Party on issues of welfare and health care, eg, is intrisinically evil. The issues you point to are PRUDENTIAL matters, not Church teaching. You are muddling issues and the importance of them AS CATHOLIC DOCTRINE in an effort to excuse Kennedy …. It is sophistry, pure and simple. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, as should the priests who provided this man with a public Catholic funeral.

  8. Jim Lackey says:

    Just a reminder: Name-calling will not be tolerated here and will be edited out. You can make your point without calling others who have posted here disobedient Catholics.

  9. Jim Ashcraft says:

    Cardinal O’Malley and the Boston archdiocese are a disgrace to the Church!!!

  10. CF_in_Naples_FL says:

    I’m so tired of … (some) Catholics…

    The Church is quite rightly concerned that refusing to throw desperate, foolish women and their well-meaning but wrong-headed doctors into prison might lead some to believe that abortion is only another form of contraception, which it also teaches is impermissible even in cases where coitus in marriage will lead to death by AIDS. Such arguments will probably continue until the Lord sends us a Galileo for biology who can set straight those still confused on objective facts.

    On the other hand, the Pope repeatedly condemned the Bush doctrine of preemptive war, and this man was one of the very few who heeded that moral dictate and refused to support that evil. Our Church works tirelessly to protect the right of all to migrate to provide for their families, and this man always supported both migrant workers and those immigrants who crossed our borders in desperation. Unlike our former president, who personally had blood on his hands, this man fought the death penalty. Our Bishops declared in 1993 that ADEQUATE MEDICAL CARE IS A HUMAN RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE, and this man worked until the day he died to make that mandate a reality.

    So many Catholics elevate man’s laws over our Catholic social justice principles, deny the redemptive work of the Holy Spirit, and evidence a surfeit of Christian charity. They not heed the cries of the poor and the alien; rather, they demand their silence, expulsion, or death.

    None of us is worthy of His gifts. Thank you, Your Eminence, for your kindness to this Catholic hero.

  11. Mike Kupec says:

    I stand firm in my belief, that Senator Ed Kennedy had the power and conviction to overturn the ABORTION of babies, but refused to use it as it may offend his Democratic Party members. I’m a registered Democrat
    and Abortion is wrong, it;s murder of innocent babies.
    GOD will judge all of us and he will ask what we did do to save my babies in the mother’s womb. Most of the women who aborted are having a tough time living with themselves. Senators Ironclad fist in the Senate could have saved billions of our tax monies for he had the power like no other senator and would have helped the many Seniors struggling to make ends meet..I’m not judging Senator Kennedy, GOD will do that for all of us. Amen

  12. Khanski says:

    Joe, no one is judging. They are commenting on the facts.
    I think you are making a judgment on calling people who comment, against you beliefs, “Super Catholics”.

    Maybe it would be a good idea to read the whole chapter, instead of throwing out a verse, to get the context of the verse.

    As far as the Catholics Bishops, they also funded ACORN, and said virtually nothing (except ~70) about Notre Dame honoring a person who voted to let aborted babies who survived, die. The red they wear stands for courage to stand for the faith.

  13. Jim Finfera says:

    I personally feel that the Catholic funeral services for Senator Kennedy was in ver good taste. I believe yesterday’s article on the Church’s reasons for the funeral services were very clear and well said:

    Let’s leave the judging to our Creator. Let me relay a story my aunt told me a very long time ago (I am 67 years old). “Once there was a Catholic man who did not lead a very up right life who was riding his horse. He fell off the horse, got his foot caught in the streup and was dragged to his death. The priest of the local parish was struggling with trying to determine if the man as to receive a Catholic burial. He pondered over it, prayed over it, and finally went to bed for the night with a headache. As he was sleeping, he had a dream… that dream, he saw the man riding his horse……he saw the man fall off the horse and be dragged to his death……however, he also heard a voice which said, “From the sterup to the ground forgiveness was sought and forgiveness was found”. When he woke up he decided to give the man a Catholic burial. ”

    There is a another quote that has been in our church for as long as I can remember, which I really like. It goes like this, “Hate sin and love the sinner”. In scripture there is, “They can tell we are his followers by our love for one and another”. Finally, a very holy former pastor of mine made an observation. In his entire career as a priest where he was at the death bed of many a dying person, he never administered to a cancer patient who was not ready to meet his Creator. The senator died of cancer.

    I for one am going to thank God for giving us this senator who has done so well in living the social teaching of our Holy Catholic Faith as it applies to the poor and marginalized to and including our immigrant brothers and sisters and beg Mercy from our God of Mercy for this senator in his not doing all that could be done for our unborn.

  14. Rick Evans says:

    Gee, some of you put such a happy face on the Senator’s political life and overall behavior. His efforts for the poor, the marginalized, and our (illegal) immigrant brothers and sisters are sited. Aren’t unwanted babies that are brutally poisoned, dismembered or suffocated among the poorest of the poor? I say these totally vulnerable members of our human family are pathetically marginalized. And they deserve to safely immigate from the womb to the daylight of their citizenship in this free country. Don’t we still pride ourselves on the right of all to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Should we just sit back and remain silent when our elected Catholic representatives enthusiastically support an evil that our catechism defines as murder? Should we just hope for their dying breath repentance? OK, but what about the babies?

    Does mentioning our Catechism make me a “Super Catholic”? Gosh, I really don’t feel like one!

    Lets not forget that the coroner said Miss Kopeckny remained alive in that submerged car, gasping for air, for over 2 hours after it sank. Should we sugar coat the fact that the good Senator didn’t report it for 18 hours?

    I hope he repented and that the Lord does have mercy on his soul. Either way, there are plenty of other souls up there that will gladly point the way to his eternal dwelling place.

  15. Mike Kupec says:

    What say, we put comments of the funeral of senator Ed Kennedy
    to bed, and let GOD Almighty handle his life and
    his earthly mistakes, especialy the UNBORN.
    There is nothing more we can do , now that he is being judged by The ALMIGHTY. He’s got to answer to GOD now that he gone.
    Let him rest in Peace

  16. Peter Comaskey says:

    1. Cardinal O’Malley and the diocese of Boston betrayed the 30+ years by pro-lifers who were in direct opposition of Kennedy.
    2.All of you out there praising Kennedy, can you tell me, honestly, what is the difference between him, who worked loyally for the mass homcide of the unborn along with Planned Parenthood and a Nazi official signing an order for the murder of a thousand people?It’s too bad that we don’t have a giant photo of 50,000,00 dead babies showing Kennedy’s work.

  17. It is not my desire for anyone to go to hell or face any bad judgement. Ever read the scripture where God says ” It is mercy I desire” God’s judgement is not like we think it is. People come into this world a brand new baby full of hopes and dreams and ambition. Something happens that destoyes it or changes it. God knows what happen. To wish no mercy on Senator Kennedy is not christian. Cardinal O’Malley represented Gods mercy and compassion. We are all going to be on our deathbed facing judgement before God in a hospital or nursing home or somewhere. I prayed for Senator Kennedy’s soul because I do not want anyone to face a bad judgement.” Let him without sin cast the first stone” God’s mercy is for all and not just a chosen few.

  18. The Apostle Peter wrote, ” God’s judgement begins in his own house” Yes it is a challenge to pray for a liberal or someone who we feel did not walk in God’s ways. No rather than pray for their soul we condem. Good thing we are not God because no one would get to heaven. I pray Senator Kennedy find God’s mercy.

  19. joseph adler says:

    As a Catholic father I have found it very hard to explain the glorification of Ted Kennedys behavior vis-a-vis the Catholic church: how he “contributed to” and was “led by church social teaching” as Cardinal O’Malley has proposed in his Blog. The Cardinal goes on to say that he was “disappointed” by his (Kennedys) “lack of support” for the unborn.
    This was a massive understatement. For years Kennedy artfully fought for and won pro-choice legislation culminating with the crowning achievements in this area with successfully stopping the repeal of Roe verses Wade and shielding Partial Birth Abortion from being banned in the Senate. He did not do this alone. Many other Catholic politicians assisted in the struggle for “chioce” and not only do they still do this today but will continue to do so in the future . This is where the real rub lies… they in turn have had assistance from a most unlikly source– the church leadership itself which undoubtably has good intentions but is fearful to speak out on abortion lest they compromise other social goods ie health care for all, help for the unemployed, and other just goals. Thus some are are silent on the unborn, while at the same time entreating their flocks to avoid becoming “one issue ” Catholics in much the same way that Political parties discourage a “one issue” voteing mentality. Both the Notre Dame controversy and the Kennedy funeral in Boston highlighted this trend. The problem with this
    approach of course is what happens to truth, if one believes that Abortion terminates a life, and that hundreds of lives are eliminated daily, it becomes difficult to place the issue of life on the same level as seeking an increase in the minimum wage which Ted Kennedy did nobly.
    May Ted Kennedy who had the last rites in the church rest in peace and may those in the Church leadership who have shown that Our Lords Heart is an Ocean of Divine Mercy now counter the Lukewarmnes in moral leadership that prevades our time.

  20. MIKE KUPEC says:

    As I made my comments in my last statement,
    Let God the Almighty do his job in judging Senator Kennedy, let him rest in peace. He has to answer to God, not us for all the rights and wrongs in his life.

  21. Fr. Tom Hall, CSP says:

    Several years ago, the Paulist Fathers did a drama called “Judas”. In the film, Peter, James, and John went to cut down the body of Judas from the tree from which it hung. Peter and James wanted to do the most unkind things to the mortal remains of Christ’s betrayer. But, John protested. He argued in favor of burying the remains with dignity…”because it is what the Master would have done.” So too with Senator Kennedy. Bury every sinner with dignity, because it is what the Master would have done.

  22. I do not believe that Cardinal O’Malley should have attended Sen. Kennedy’s funeral, because Sen. Kennedy was in favor of abortion — a completely opposite stance of the Roman Catholic Church.

  23. Peadar Ban says:

    I appreciate the Cardinal’s explanation about his presence at and participation in Sen. Kennedy’s funeral Mass.

    What I cannot understand is the folks who believe that because he was an advocate for some issues he deserves to be honored in death as he was admired by some in life. To my mind the man is a figure of tragedy. As a matter of fact, the Kennedy Family is a kind of American tragedy which is centered in the one issue distinguishing our present society from what came before…at least since 1973.

    Somewhere above, a person pointed out that the American bishops said a while ago that adequate medical care was a right and not a privilege. And, Catholic hospitals and doctors have been in the forefront of providing that care for hundreds of years, now. I do not know, but am reasonably sure, that they did not also say such care should be supplied, as a matter of justice and morality, by one’s government. Nor, did they foreclose anyone in government from acting to ensure that. On that matter they were moot.

    I mention that merely to point out that Sen. Kennedy’s actions in that area, while commendable, weren’t of themselves more than normally so; what one would expect of any good and faithful Catholic. So, too, his efforts in all others of his legislative activities. And,, his success, had nothing to do with some divinely ordained plan, as some would have us think about all activities for the common good undertaken by the Kennedys.

    He could be said to have been a good citizen and successful senator.

    But, he was silent on the sanctity of life. Not only was he silent, but he lent his name, bent his will and concentrated his labor and his power to aid those who deny the humanity and sanctity of life, and work for the eradication of those values and virtues which are the bedrock of our civilization.

    This cannot be overlooked, since it constitutes a great moral failure and forms the tragic center of the man’s life. After all, even if you allow the average weight of an aborted child to be a mere one ounce, 50 million of those equals roughly 150 tons. That’s a heavy weight to carry with you into your audience with the Creator.

    Now, he has met His God, and has been asked the questions he refused to answer. I do hope he has begun his period of purification, and certainly think he needs our prayers and support for that time. I wonder this, though. I wonder if he shall have the opportunity to enjoy eternity with Bernard Cardinal Law when that flawed and tragic figure finally meets the Father of Mercy and answers the questions put to him.

    I wonder further if all of those who have found time to praise the dead senator while continuing to damn the still living cardinal will understand that forgiveness, to work, must be applied equally and unconditionally to all.

  24. Odile says:

    Sean Cardinal O’Malley’s participation in Senator Kennedy’s funeral is not evidence that he has “softened” on.abortion. Nor is it a betrayal of his ministry. The Cardinal’s compassion was strictly to Kennedy the man, not to any cause Kennedy might have supported. O’Malley did not say Kennedy was sinless; he gave him what the Church offers all sinners, the sacraments instituted by Christ for the very purpose of saving sinners.

    The Cardinal showed by example how we are to treat one another as we debate the issue: with love and service to one another.

    On the issue itself, there is no compromise. “Thou shalt not kill” has no footnotes. When asked how one is to live a righteous life, Jesus’ words were: “You know the commandments: Do not murder…” (Mark 10:19). And the commandment applies to the death penalty, so both political parties are wrong about some things and right about others. Life is the underlying right that enables every other right.

    Jesus suffered and died to redeem sinners, not to make it okay to sin. Jesus said “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” (Matthew 18:7)

  25. Joe Adler says:

    The adoration of Ted Kennedy’s behavior vis-à-vis the Catholic church: how he “contributed to” and was “led by church social teaching” as Cardinal O’Malley has proposed in his Blog and other laudatory comments by Catholic leaders may have been well intended, but also strongly suggested the endorsement of the Senators political life.
    The Cardinal’s admonishment that he was “disappointed” by his (Kennedy’s) “lack of support” for the unborn came off as tepid, to say the least given the fact that Kennedy and a small group of Catholic politicians labored for decades to achieve their goal of legalizing Abortion in the most powerful country on Earth. At least the Cardinal addressed the issue, for the rest of the Catholic hierarchy remained silent .
    Here-in lies a key factor undermining of the pro-life cause – spiritual lukewarmness within the elites and opinion leaders of the Catholic church , who are focused primarily on attaining social goals such as healthcare reform through political compromise and without “burning any bridges”,
    the preferred path being the “middle road” and to be “non-partisan”. The result of course is a down playing of the pro-life issue or even the wholesale avoidance of it , relegating abortion to friendly cocktail debates . In Fact the national conscience of the Catholic hierarchy for want of a better term, is so fractured that unified action on pastoral matters such as denying communion to Catholic politicians who publicly support abortion cannot even be agreed upon, much less judging those actions on a personal basis.
    Winning the hearts of those opposed to life is a very commendable and necessary idea but perhaps those opinion leaders in the church, could actually support life with the same political activism that they pursue other just goals with, such as climate change, and immigration. They might not only change a life but actually save one.

  26. Margaret Nungesser says:

    As a long time pro-life voice, I too, was concerned about the message of a “papal” funeral for Sen, Kennedy. He was bold in his belief of pro choice. He, and other Catholic politicians send the wrong message. The Catholic Church is and always will be pro life. Sen. Kennedy could have been a soldier for our Lord, and worked to STOP abortion. What an honor that would have been! Instead, he denied his faith. The “good” he did was paled by this stance. He was not an upstanding Catholic when he stood by and watched it all these years…..and did nothing to stop it. There are other Catholics , Biden, and Polosi who could stand up and take action against this, yet they chose to be pro choice. What must our Lord think?. What do our protestant brothers and sisters think of we Catholics? Why is there a declilne in attendance at mass? Maybe there are too many double standards.
    As a practicing Catholic, I pray for the conversion of those who are so willing to trun their backs on the unborn. As a taxpaying citizen, I do not want my money paying for abortions, or promoting Planned Parenthood. I have no choice, this is America, today. I do not want to see the healthcare with abortion in it.
    And it will. Our Catholic Hospitals will conform, or close. Perhaps one will be named in honor of Sen Ted Kennedy. What Honor?

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