The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Kennedy’s letter to the pope: “I know that I have been an imperfect human being” — UPDATED

Anyone wondering what was in that letter that Ted Kennedy sent to the pope got a glimpse this afternoon, when Washington’s retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick read an excerpt at the graveside:

McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, read from a letter from Kennedy to Pope Benedict XVI, hand-delivered earlier this year by Obama.

“I know that I have been an imperfect human being but with the help of my faith I have tried to right my path,” the dying senator wrote. He wrote the pontiff “with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines.”

The Vatican responded with a letter that said “his Holiness prays that in the days ahead you may be sustained in faith and hope.”

The full text of McCarrick’s remarks can be found here.

UPDATE: A full text of the Kennedy letter, and the Pope’s reply, can be found here. I have to say, having now read Kennedy’s letter in full, I’m not impressed. I’d like to give the man the benefit of the doubt, but honestly: it sounds too much like a campaign flyer.

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posted August 29, 2009 at 10:14 pm

All this talk about how important his faith was how did he miss the importance of protecting the unborn. Also, he talked about all the the great things he did….against the death penalty but nothing about abortion. My heart is sad!

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Bill K

posted August 30, 2009 at 2:31 am

Senator Kennedy was wrong, as is every Catholic politician who has, or will, sponsor or support right-to-abortion legislation. Catholic politicians should never compromise God’s truth, and should always remain faithful to the Magisterial teachings of the Church, which tell us that life is sacred and begins at the moment of conception. The most important thing, however, is that we pray that Senator Kennedy was given the opportunity to repent and reconcile his relationship with God through the grace conferred by the sacraments prior to his death, and that the same grace and mercy be extended to all of us in our final hour!May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with the family and friends of Senator Kennedy as they endure this time of separation!

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posted August 30, 2009 at 4:09 am

When Jack died, his wife tried to create the image of Camelot. I would guess Ted's wife gave McCarrick the letter excerpt and part of the Pope's response wishing him well and praying for him in an attempt to create a Camelot vision of Ted's catholic faith. McCarrick was very wrong in using the pope's remarks in my view. If the Pope wanted to comment on Teds death and life and his faith, the Pope would have done so. Now we have to see if the Pope chooses to comment in view of the mess the Catholic Church in America created with the scene at the funeral mass and burial. The mass turned into a democrat talking points for future legislation agenda as intercessions. To most of them, I ask that the Lord does not hear their prayers for the good of His people.

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posted August 30, 2009 at 6:56 am

First of all, it was nice to see Cardinal McCarrick. He was my Archbishop in the Archdiocese of Newark. I was privileged to meet him. He consecrated the new altar in my parish. He is a very good man, and very much loved in NJ.As for Ted Kennedy's letter to the Pope, I believe the Cardinal read only an excerpt from the letter.There may be more in the letter – things that we will ever know. I pray for him and his family.

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posted August 30, 2009 at 7:53 am

Again, nothing wrong with seeking forgiveness, and who among us if we had the means, wouldn't also ask the pope for prayers? We should all be so lucky to have a Papal Apostolic Blessing upon death. I'm glad that Ted Kennedy rec'd it, and I continue to pray for his soul.Now for the big but! Can you say "Manipulation"? If it wasn't bad enough that they exploited the kids and gave rise to scandal with a public mass, the reading of a "partial" response from the pope, ESPECIALLY WHEN HE HAS REMAINED SILENT UPON THE DEATH OF TED (Unlike the recent death of his sister Eunice)was beyond words.Who can't guess that the much of Pope Benedicts letter to Ted was about a public repentance with not only abortion, but against the other teachings of which he championed legislation? Wouldn't it have to have been? But then, I guess if one can allow the murder of 50 million babies, taking the pope's words out of context isn't a surprise either. Father Euteneur of Life International, weighs in BEFORE the funeral and why it's a scandal without a public confession; the one that most likely, Pope Benedict asked and prayed for him to make. Ted; I continue to trust in God's great mercy, which is all I could thing about yesterday; how great is God's mercy up until our last breath.

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posted August 30, 2009 at 9:33 am

When I checked the online news this morning, the first thing I read was the exchange of letters. The link was to a source I did not know, and I assumed I was reading a satire. After all, the dying senator was (a) praising Obama for his "deep faith," (b) bragging about his own (evidently similarly deep) faith by listing causes he has supported during his political career ("reproductive rights" notably absent from them), and (c) making a pitch for national health care. Cardinal McCarrick describes this as "moving." I'd say "self-serving" is much more accurate; it's hardly surprising that the pope's response was a generic "thank you for your recent correspondence."

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RP Burke

posted August 30, 2009 at 3:22 pm

All of you — STOP!!It is long past time to recall the old Roman (classical) adage:De mortuis nil nisi bonum.Concerning the dead, [say] nothing unless [it is] good.Have you forgotten that the measure you give is the measure you will receive?Let the man rest in peace.

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posted August 30, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Well said, RP Burke! I find your posting to be more "Christian" than most of what's been posted concerning the late Senator Kennedy!

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posted August 30, 2009 at 7:31 pm

I was deep moved that the Holy Father imparted his Apostolic Blessing on Senator Kennedy. Thank you, Holy Father. And thank you, Senator Kennedy for the many good things you did in your life.

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the mysterious

posted August 30, 2009 at 10:37 pm

RP Burke,It is a scandal and an outrage that Kennedy is given a funeral. If Kennedy had truly repented then Cardinal O'Malley should have made this known to the Catholic faithful clearly and yet the media and pro-abortion politicians turned this into yet another victory. Here's another thing that remains unclear to me and many other pro-life Americans. You listening Katherine? What will millions of Catholic Americans be led to believe as Obama canonizes Kennedy's pro-abortion legacy on live television?Deaconnecessary, let me tell you something. Your responsibility to preach the truth does not change as the world pays their respects to this man. The Catholic principles which Cardinal O'Malley has sworn to uphold have not disappeared because of Senator Kennedy's death. With this funeral Mass, Kennedy has spit one more time on Christ, this time from the casket. It is what it is.

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted August 30, 2009 at 10:45 pm

The mysterious…Do you know of any baptized Catholic who has been denied a Catholic funeral?I asked that question of a priest today — a man who's been a pastor over 30 years. He thought a moment. "Once," he said. "It was early in my priesthood. Suicide. It was awful. I felt terrible. I'll never forget it." The only other case he could remember was that of John Gotti — who refused a priest and the sacrament of reconciliation just before he died. The fact remains: denying a baptized Catholic a Catholic funeral is exceptional, and rare. And as the priest told me today… let's not forget The Good Thief. Words to ponder. DGK

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the mysterious

posted August 30, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Deacon,There are several non-negotiable tenets of the faith that cannot be compromised, and one is the act of killing a preborn child by abortion. And you deacon should be ashamed yourself that you can't see that this funeral is a mockery of Catholic teaching. 1. The man was buried with honors by the Archdiocese of Boston. Thus scandal is compounded by scandal.What kind of scandal some might ask?It seems to me, Deacon that you do not view abortion, sodomy and the destruction of the traditional family as grave issues. Thus many catholics will think that those things are not grave issues and can champion them without being censured by the Church.2. That Catholics are allowed to live their lives with impunity, in enmity with God and at war with His Church until their final days.3. That all that is necessary for the salvation of such sinners is the act of Confession (as opposed to a sincere Confession made possible by a miraculous, special grace from God).I'm not judging Kennedy at all, but I'm illustrating the horrible delusion which many Christians have of the sacrament of Confession. Perhaps you, Deacon should read Saint Alphonsus Ligouri's sermons again on "the death of the sinner".

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posted August 30, 2009 at 11:54 pm

There have been a couple of comments about the apostolic blessing. Does everyone understand the significance of that? I can see the two people that posted it do, but I would strongly suggest everyone look it up over at New Advent's website. It imparts a plenary indulgence, under the usual norms. The Holy Father showed the same mercy we all hope to receive. Christ's Mercy is endless, boundless, for all of us it is to be hoped and prayed for. Let us pray also for each other, for God's forgiveness of our pride and hubris.

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posted August 31, 2009 at 12:16 am

No one is arguing on giving the blessing. Ted blocked a Supreme Court nominee who would have overturned Roe. He bragged about it. In 1993, the supreme court nominee who was put in Robert Borks place voted to uphold Roe and Robert Bork when asked said he would have voted no thus overturning Roe. Yes, this would not have ended abortion, but you can bet that there would not have been the millions we have seen since that date. He continued to fight to put justices on the court that views the murder of an infant in the womb as legal and to make it more easy and accessible. If you read Teds letter to the pope, it is a move to tell the Pope what a great guy and Catholic he is. There was not a drop of remorse or call for the democratic party to stop supporting this evil or to support marriage between one man and one woman. No remorse. Since it was so public in this grave sin, the church also says that in these cases that there has to be public repentence and does so for a reason which is to help show others who may have followed in error the truth. Deacon, I have seen a number of people denied marriage, the Eucharist, and also funeral masses in the Catholic Church in our own parish. It is done so because these sacraments are supposed to not be provided to those who are known to be in the state of grave sin. This is done in love for to go recieve a sacrament in the state of grave sin is in itself another grave sin and also so that others are not led into these types of sins. Just because priests fail to do the right thing to protect souls and the sacraments does not make it in any way right or something to be followed or honored. The teaching of the Church are not open to polls or changes in society attitudes. We have millions who now practice contraception which is a grave sin and then go to the Eucharist which is another grave sin. Just because a priest says something is OK when the solid teaching of the Church is clear does not make it OK. Look at the impact predicted by the Pope in Humane Vitae those many years ago have proven true in our society. It shows that Pope Paul VI was led by the Holy Spirit and Christ in writing that encyclical for its amazing truth in only 40 years.

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RP Burke

posted August 31, 2009 at 8:58 am

Well, I have found another thing to pray for:That the likes of "the mysterious" is not the local magistrate at the last judgment.

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posted August 31, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Reading the full text of the letter was certainly moving .. in a disheartening kind of way. Tewkes,Considering all we know of Sen. Kennedy's life, I pray that he was actually able to receive that apostolic blessing .. he certainly needed it. The pope offered an apostolic blessing, but in order for the plenary indulgence to be received, Sen. Kennedy needs to have gone to Confession and confessed any mortal sins. I certainly hope and pray that he did, or that if he didn't, that his many, many, many grave sins (just of those known publicly) were not actually mortal.Not only would have the faithful been served by a funeral much more honest and earnest, Sen. Kennedy would have as well. And I think this is something that very few have brought up. Not only was the Church at large failed, the poor deceased was as well. At the time when he needs the most prayers from his brothers and sisters in Christ, they were ignoring his sins and creating a myth of sainthood. That is no kind of compassion that I hope to receive at the end of my life.

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the mysterious

posted August 31, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Canons 1184-1185 say: "Canon 1184 §1. Unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, the following must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals: 1/ notorious apostates, heretics, and schismatics; 2/ those who chose the cremation of their bodies for reasons contrary to Christian faith; 3/ other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful. "§2. If any doubt occurs, the local ordinary is to be consulted, and his judgment must be followed. "Canon 1185. Any funeral Mass must also be denied a person who is excluded from ecclesiastical funerals."

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