The Kennedy Funeral: Spitting On Christ

August 31, 2009 09:00 AM

Each of us who believe in the justice and mercy of God are called, as an act of charity, to pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased. However, there are some rubrics of decorum that should – at the very least – have been respected over this past weekend. I speak, of course, of the grandiose funeral ceremonies, particularly the Catholic funeral Mass, for Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

The entire travesty, from the television cameras to spectacle itself, goes beyond anything I have witnessed in my more than 65 years of life. In fact, while we all thought the appearance of President Barack Obama at the University of Notre Dame was a scandal, the very idea that he offered a eulogy in a basilica, while the real presence of Christ was in the tabernacle, is perhaps the most dastardly thing I have ever seen. America witnessed this nation’s most avid supporter of abortion on demand, standing in a Catholic basilica, during the Mass, speaking of a fellow pro-abort in glowing terms! That alone is such an insult to Christ that words simply cannot express my sorrow. Yet a greater source of sadness is that the Cardinal Sean O'Malley, of the Archdiocese of Boston, looked on as though insulting Christ Himself were an everyday occurrence. 

Oh yes, there will be those who will excoriate me for saying such a thing, but please, let’s get to the heart of the matter, shall we?

I am a practicing Catholic. I understand the laws of the Church as they relate to funerals, public figures who persist in supporting grave moral evils while calling themselves Catholic  and the proper type of funeral for someone who did not publicly repent of such actions.

As the Reverend Thomas Euteneuer explained in his reflections on the Kennedy funeral prior to the event, 

Senator Kennedy needs to be sent to the afterlife with a private, family-only funeral and the prayers of the Church for the salvation of his immortal soul. He will not be missed by the unborn [whom] he betrayed time and time again, nor by the rest of us who are laboring to undo the scandalous example of Catholicism that he gave to three generations of Americans.

Father is right. Not a single one of us knows the state of Senator Kennedy’s soul at his death, but his public record is sufficient to clarify for one and all the myriad reasons why such a Mass, presided over by a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, was a total, absolute insult to Christ the Lord.

A learned gentleman, who has written at length about problems in the Catholic Church over these past 40-plus years, told me that the funeral Mass was the “inversion of all things Catholic.” It is a perfect example of what many describe as bowing to human respect rather than abiding by the laws of God and serving Him first without counting the cost.

Clearly, Saint John Vianney was correct when he said, “Do you know what the devil’s first temptation is to the person who wants to serve God with dedication? It is human respect!”  Senator Kennedy devoted a great deal of his public life to assuring the deaths of millions of human beings – members of the human family who happened to reside in their mother’s wombs. He repeatedly defied Catholic teaching, arrogantly receiving the body and blood of Christ when he knew as certainly as he knew his name that aborting a child is an act of murder and a grievous crime defined in precisely those terms by the Catholic Church. And the hierarchy looked on.

By presiding at the funeral Mass and subsequent burial service, prelates of the Roman Catholic Church created much more than a scandal. Now millions of Americans are totally confused about what it means to be Catholic. The words that were uttered by these prelates prove that they did, in fact, ignore the dead babies in order to give glowing words of praise to the man who sanctioned their killing.

Cardinal O’Malley said of Kennedy, "Senator Kennedy was often a champion for the poor, the less fortunate and those seeking a better life. Across Massachusetts and the nation, his legacy will be carried on through the lives of those he served."

Cardinal O’Malley, what about the millions of preborn babies – the lives he failed to serve and, in fact, helped to condemn to death? What about them?

At the grave site at Arlington National Cemetery, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, “lauded Kennedy, making mention that he was known as the ‘Lion of the Senate’ for his zeal in championing the causes of people whose needs and rights have often been overlooked by some.”

Cardinal McCarrick, what about the millions of babies whose human rights, equal rights and civil rights were denied by the senator from Massachusetts? Why didn’t you have a word for them?

It seems to me that the words of these prelates smacked of as much hypocrisy as the events they permitted.

Spitting on Christ Himself at His crucifixion could not have been any more disdainful than what we witnessed Saturday.

As I have read the reactions of Catholics responding to what I had to say, I have, at times, been exposed to some pretty hefty insults. There was the person who wrote, “You are the best example of a right-wing extremist I know. You are, in my mind, very much like the terrorists and a dangerous nut job.”

I responded by explaining that while some prefer to ignore the events and therefore succumb to the evil that resulted, I cannot. The ramifications of such ignominy are not slight. We are sickened by it and cannot remain silent. We reject the gospel of so-called tolerance and we refuse to accept the state of denial that many Catholics are living in at this moment in history.

Another wrote me, “Whatever Senator Kennedy’s flaws and sins, it is not your place to judge the status of his grace. The Lord says remove the log from your own eye before you see the twig in another’s. In reality, I believe, it is you who [are] spitting on his casket.”

Truly, nobody has made a subjective judgment about the state of the senator’s soul; only God can do that and He already has. What we have called attention to is his public record, which speaks for itself and which the cardinals should have spoken to as well.

Perhaps the most troubling letter is the one my friend, Peter Comaskey of Idaho, sent me. He wrote it as a letter to the editor of his local paper. It says, in part,

Today I am totally sick at heart, along with many others who have contacted me on this day of infamy, by the huge public display and mockery of a so-called funeral Mass for a mass murderer of the unborn where his personage was glorified next to sainthood… I could almost feel the rage of the pro-life orthodox faithful, weekly Mass-attending Catholics through my TV screen and the amount of confusion this is going to cause the faithful laity. In a sad way I feel that the Basilica can only be cleansed by being destroyed, it will never be the same… I believe today’s actions in Boston have provoked a great, so far, restrained anger within the Church, which will now be released as this [event] broke the camel’s back. …[W]hat is the point in trying to follow God’s laws and the teachings of the Church after today’s farce made it seem to be a meaningless path to follow. One can do whatever he likes, living it up, apparently like Kennedy, disregarding God and the Church, pushing mass homicide of the unborn, and then moments before death call in a priest in order to pass go, free. Why go to Mass, confession, Communion, all the other sacraments, as today’s debacle lowered their apparent value to real devout Catholics?

This letter begs for a response from those who will probably remain silent. The hierarchy has a habit of doing that when tough questions are asked. I know that from experience.

But the fact is, what this man has written encapsulates what I heard from many, many people, including members of my own family. His angst is not a singular expression made by a single human being who loves Christ and His Church. Many, many Catholics feel the same.

I pray that the suffering this debacle has caused faithful Catholics turns into a renewal of commitment to Christ, His Church, His real presence in the Eucharist and His little ones. Finally, in response to the Saturday disgraces, I do not hesitate to quote Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), who, in his 1997 book, Salt of the Earth: Christianity and the Catholic Church at the End of the Millennium, wrote of the state of the Church, including the “lowering of moral standards even among men of the Church”: 

The words of the Bible and of the Church fathers rang in my ears, those sharp condemnations of shepherds who are like mute dogs; in order to avoid conflicts, that let the poison spread. Peace is not the first civic duty, and a bishop whose only concern is not to have any problems and to gloss over as many conflicts as possible is an image I find repulsive.

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