"All America saw that the Catholic Church was prepared to honor a politician who flouted clear, direct, and repeated public statements from the hierarchy. " What a damning assessment. How can any faithful Catholic support it?
The great, unanswered question hanging over the congregation in Mission Church, and in the minds of the millions who watched the funeral Mass on television, was how the Catholic Church could arrange such a highly public tribute to a man who, over the years, was arguably the most powerful political opponent of the Catholic position on the central moral issue of our time: the battle to protect human life.
Boston's archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot, muddled that point in its coverage of Kennedy's death. The Pilot story began:
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who died late Aug. 25 at the age of 77, stood firmly on the side of the Catholic Church on a wide range of issues from immigration reform to the minimum wage during his 47 years as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts.
But the youngest son of one of the nation's most famous Catholic families ran into criticism from leaders of the U.S. Catholic Church for his stand on abortion.
That story is misleading in two important respects. First, there is no single Catholic position on questions like immigration reform and the minimum wage; these are issues on which loyal Catholics can and do differ. Second, regarding the clear moral issue of abortion, the Pilot story does not forthrightly say that Kennedy's stand was tragically wrong, but only that he "ran into criticism." Thus the archdiocesan newspaper almost trivialized the problem. But the millions of observers who watched the funeral did not make the same mistake. All America saw that the Catholic Church was prepared to honor a politician who flouted clear, direct, and repeated public statements from the hierarchy.
As Lawler points out in his follow up to this article, this is the sort of moral capitulation that provides ammunition to cynics and convinces people to leave the Church. Given the massive moral failings of the Church over the past 50 years, it hardly needs to give its critics more ammunition.