Commentary By Steve Jalsevac
August 31, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – I am not dismayed or downhearted, just amazed at the depth of human weakness and self delusion revealed by the Kennedy funeral. Let me explain, and also urge what should be the attitude of pro-life people be to this event.
It was a fascinating funeral with many touching moments and fine speeches. Ted Kennedy was shown to have presented in many ways a very attractive image – an exceptionally generous person, a good father, a faithful friend to many, an accomplished man of the world despite many personal setbacks and hardships.
For Kennedy, Obama, and many of the pro-abortion politicians at the funeral – image is crucial. They rely upon it to influence the public to trust them and to support their political goals. They know that the public can be lulled away from critical thinking and attention to facts if political image is well cultivated and presented.
As we have repeated a number of times in our coverage of Ted Kennedy's illness and then death, we do not judge his relationship with God. No one can do that. But his public record is another thing. We can and must judge that. He profoundly helped to advance the Culture of Death and other developments harmful to life, family and faith in America.
As for the grandiose funeral broadcast around the world – the Mass, the Church, the priests and Cardinal O'Malley – all appeared to be merely useful props for the liberal establishment to exploit. That establishment was given the keys to do whatever they wanted.
This was not a funeral to beseech God on behalf of the dead and to remind the living of what God expects from them in this life and that they too will meet their maker. That is the purpose of a Catholic funeral. Nothing is taken for granted. We beseech God's mercy at a Catholic funeral. A Catholic funeral reminds all that there is eternal reward for the faithful but also, a price for sin, a need for repentance, and a need to pray for the dead – since Catholic understanding is that there is indeed a Heaven, a Purgatory and a Hell.
However, the Catholic Church in Boston and Cardinal O'Malley totally capitulated. I felt embarrassment and shame for the good Cardinal.
Saint Kennedy was canonized with not even one appropriate reference from anyone during the entire proceedings addressing his extreme pro-abortion record. By implication, everything that the senator from Massachusetts did in his political life was affirmed during that Catholic Church event.
The tyranny of moral relativism triumphed. The false, very selective, “spirit of Vatican II” social justice version of Catholicism dominated. The beatitudes taken out of context from the gospel can give false assurance and soothingly warp consciences for those who live personal lives in serious violation of that real gospel.
The message from the Boston Catholic Basilica event to all Catholic politicians, to all Catholics in positions of authority and to the world was clear. In the end, abortion doesn't really matter. Same-sex marriage is not really an important issue. Church moral teachings in general are just talking points for consideration. And finally, the central teaching authority of the Church is an outdated concept. It does not matter what Christ, the Ten Commandments, the Pope's and the saints have said. Image, worldly respect, your local bishop or priest friend or theologian trump all the other universal things of the faith. I do not at all mean to say that Cardinal O'Malley believes any of this. He does not. But he let this happen and gave the event his presence.
Much of what took place in the Basilica, regarding Kennedy's political legacy, was missing real love and real charity. Christ showed what true love was and they crucified him for it.
Despite all this, and the Notre Dame scandal and much more of the same, we at LifeSiteNews will continue to do what we must. Pro-life, pro-family leaders will soldier on.
A few years ago in Toronto, the late Fr. Richard Neuhaus addressed the issue of what our attitude should be to disappointments in the pro-life struggle. He stated,
“There are many who do not understand that this is the great civil rights movement of our time, that this is the great human rights movement of our time… and the future will vindicate that we are the avant guard – we are the vanguard.
There are those in the pro-abortion camp who view their position as the progressive position. They are wrong. It is not progressive but barbaric.
This cause will not let you go. Will the Gospel of Life prevail? Oh, yes. The Gospel of Life will prevail. When and in what way we do not know. I am sure some of you know the lines of T.S. Elliot…”For us, there is only the trying, the rest is not our business.” I understand Elliot to be saying, “the rest is not our business, the rest is God's business.”
In the First Things article, Scandal Time, regarding the clergy sexual abuse scandals, Neuhaus made some comments that would also seem pertinent to Church tolerance of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. Neuhaus wrote,
“What is this crisis about? The answer is that this crisis is about three things: fidelity, fidelity, and fidelity. The fidelity of bishops and priests to the teaching of the Church and to their solemn vows; the fidelity of bishops in exercising oversight in ensuring obedience to that teaching and to those vows; and the fidelity of the lay faithful in holding bishops and priests accountable.
I have been told that the proposition is “controversial,” but I suggest it is almost embarrassingly self-evident: if bishops and priests had been faithful to the teaching of the Church and their sacred vows, there would be no scandal. Those who would confuse the subject reflexively reach for complexity. No, I am sorry, it is as simple as that. We are reaping the whirlwind of widespread infidelity.”
And finally, a LifeSiteNews reader sent us this excerpt from an address by Archbishop Fulton Sheen to the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in June 1972,
“Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and your religious act like religious.”
To hear the inspiring audio of Fr. Neuhaus's comments:
https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/audio/Neuhausexcerpts.wma (Window Media file)
https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/audio/Neuhausexcerpts.mp3 (mp3 file)