The controversy over Ted Kennedy’s funeral last week continues, with Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley writing on his blog a vigorous defense of his decision to officiate at the public event.
Cardinal O’Malley on Ted Kennedy’s Funeral
LifeSiteNews reporter John-Henry Westen does a fine job deconstructing Cardinal O’Malley’s words. Noting that the Cardinal “reserved his harshest criticisms for pro-lifers who complained to him,” he quotes the cardinal’s words, “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.” Westen then writes:
First off, if anyone did send angry or vindictive comments to Cardinal O’Malley, while they may have been understandable given the perception of betrayal, they were – as are most such communications – unhelpful at best and likely harmful.
Unfortunately in this case, those angry communications may have given Cardinal O’Malley an excuse for his false compassion regarding Kennedy. I don’t mean to insult the good Cardinal – and I do mean good.
But in this case, the Cardinal’s compassion is misguided. In fact, it can easily be argued that while it may seem charitable, giving Kennedy such a funeral was an act of cruelty for him and for the Church rather than one of compassion.
The funeral itself seemed to canonize Kennedy rather than have people beg for God’s mercy on his soul. It set a bad example for Catholics, particularly Catholic politicians, it gave a false impression that the Church does not take seriously its teachings on life and family etc, etc. …
In the final analysis, Cardinal O’Malley’s answer to those requesting no funeral is an answer to a straw man. Another answer must be given to those who wrote him charitably begging the good Cardinal to avoid the scandal of a grandiose public funeral.
In the words of Phil Lawler the editor of Catholic World News: “A week after the death of Ted Kennedy, the relevant question is not whether the Massachusetts Senator deserved a Catholic funeral, but whether he deserved a ceremony of public acclamation so grand and sweeping that it might, to the untutored observer, have seemed more like an informal canonization.”
A Study in Contrasts: Ted Kennedy and His Sister Eunice
Earlier in the week, Ross Douthat wrote an excellent column in the New York Times contrasting the views on abortion of Ted Kennedy and those of his elder sister Eunice, who had died just 13 days prior. Douthat writes:
Along with her husband, Sargent Shriver, Eunice belonged to America’s dwindling population of outspoken pro-life liberals. Like her church, she saw a continuity, rather than a contradiction, between championing the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed and protecting unborn human life.
Her brother took a different path. Not at first: In 1971, in a letter to a voter that abortion opponents would have many opportunities to quote, he declared that “wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized—the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.” But like many other Catholic liberals, from Joseph Biden to Dennis Kucinich, he moved leftward with his party, becoming a down-the-line supporter of abortion rights, with a voting record that brooked no compromise on the issue.
For abortion opponents, cruel ironies abounded in this sibling disagreement. Because of Eunice Shriver’s work with the developmentally disabled, a group of Americans who had once been marginalized and hidden away—or lobotomized, like her sister Rosemary—was ushered closer to full participation in ordinary human life. But because of laws that her brother unstintingly supported, that same group was ushered out again: the abortion rate for fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome, for instance, is estimated to be as high as 90 percent.
It’s worth pondering how the politics of abortion might have been different had Ted shared even some of his sister’s qualms about the practice. One could imagine a world in which America’s leading liberal Catholic had found a way to make liberalism less absolutist on the issue, and a world where a man who became famous for reaching across the aisle had reached across, even occasionally, in search of compromise on the country’s most divisive issue.
That was not to be. And it’s entirely fitting, given his record, that Kennedy’s immediate legacy is a draft of health-care legislation that pursues an eminently Catholic goal—expanding access to medical care—through a system that seems likely, in its present design, to subsidize abortion.
But his sister would have written it a different way.
GFL Joins Coalition Calling on Students to Take a Pro-Life Stand September 8
Generations for Life is joining in solidarity with our friends at the pro-life youth organizations Stand True, Students for Life of America, and Survivors in calling all students to take a stand against abortion in a special way this Tuesday, September 8.
On that day, President Barack Obama will address America’s returning students in a speech welcoming them back to the classroom.
This Tuesday, we’re asking pro-life students to wear plain T-shirts with “Abortion Is Not Health Care” written in large letters across the front to protest the President’s current support for nationalized health care that will include taxpayer funded abortions. If students are unable to make their own shirts, we’re asking them to simply wear a shirt that already has a pro-life message.