By Patrick B. Craine

TORONTO, Ontario, September 29, 2009 ( – In a new editorial, Catholic Insight magazine editor Fr. Alphonse de Valk, C.S.B., criticizes Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, for his defence of the Kennedy funeral, saying that the Cardinal's statement “that the funeral would be controversial because the Senator 'did not publicly support Catholic teaching' must be seen as an extraordinary understatement.”

On September 2nd, four days following the funeral, Cardinal O'Malley posted to his blog his reflections on the event, taking the opportunity to respond to criticism of the funeral and of his participation in it.  “There are those who objected, in some cases vociferously, to the Church's providing a Catholic funeral for the Senator,” he wrote.  “In the strongest terms I disagree with that position.”

“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,” the Cardinal says earlier on. He said “there is a tragic sense of lost opportunity in his lack of support for the unborn,” calling it “a great disappointment.”

Fr. de Valk responds, however, that the major objections to the funeral regarded the fact that it was public, rather than the fact that it was Catholic.  “To my knowledge, having read over three-dozen articles and hundreds of letters and blogs, nobody seems to have objected 'to the Church's providing a Catholic funeral for the Senator,'” he writes.  “The objections, instead, centred on replacing an ordinary private Catholic funeral with an extraordinary public spectacle which showed the Catholic Church in Boston virtually canonizing one who many found wholly unworthy of such acclaim.”

“Those in charge allowed the Catholic funeral liturgy to be gravely distorted,” he says, criticizing for example, the “three lengthy eulogies” – which are prohibited in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal – and the prayers of the faithful, two of which, he said, “called for the success of the late Senator's political views in conflict with Catholic teaching.”

“The entire service was subservient to the TV spectacle it was meant to be, including the splendid music which Cardinal O'Malley was highly to praise in his blog,” Fr. de Valk writes.  “The picture sent out to the world was that of the Catholic Church in Boston glorifying a powerful politician, a member of an almost mythical dynasty of politicians who supposedly symbolized the emancipation of immigrant Catholics to the status of social and political equality in American society.”

In the article, Fr. de Valk principally asks:  “How does the Cardinal's observation that all Senator Kennedy did 'was not support Catholic teaching on the unborn,' correspond to the reality of the Senator's career? And what was the Senator's other 'immensely valuable work?'”

To answer the question, he surveys Kennedy's past actions and voting history, noting in particular his 100% NARAL voting record. He concludes that Cardinal O'Malley's statement “that the funeral would be controversial because the Senator 'did not publicly support Catholic teaching' must be seen as an extraordinary understatement.”

“It is completely out of touch with the reality of Kennedy's career,” he says. “How could the Cardinal be so wrong?”

“If one accepts that Cardinal O'Malley sincerely held this belief – and I do – then there is only one conclusion,” he says.  “The Cardinal is ignorant of American politics and unaware of what is going on. This state of oblivion is by no means unusual for clergymen who necessarily have little interest in political affairs.

“That is why the pro-life movement in North America, in the United States as well as Canada, is stymied,” he continues.  “Even the Popes of recent years despite their strong pro-life positions, appear to have failed in moving many of our bishops, including cardinals.”

“Nor do our Bishops seem anxious to consult sincere and devout lay Catholics who are politically knowledgeable on this issue and others like it,” he concludes.  “As long as this situation continues, the defence of the dignity of human life from conception to natural death will continue to flounder in North America.”

See Fr. de Valk's article, The Kennedy funeral: bishops in paralysis

See LSN's Kennedy Funeral Scandal Page for full listing of coverage.

See related coverage:

Cardinal Lashes out at Pro-Lifers, Soft-Pedals Criticism of Kennedy Abortion Support