Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

Pope Benedict’s Prayer for Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy wrote a letter to Pope Benedict asking for his prayers. The Holy Father wrote back in part:

The Holy Father has read the letter which you entrusted to President Barack Obama, who kindly presented it to him during their recent meeting.He was saddened to know of your illness, and has asked me to assure you of his concern and his spiritual closeness. He is particularly grateful for your promise of prayers for him and for the needs of the universal Church.”His Holiness prays that in the days ahead you may be sustained in faith and hope and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God, our merciful Father. He invokes upon you the consolation and peace promised by the risen Savior to all who share in his sufferings and trust in his promise of eternal life.Commending you and the members of you family to the loving intervention of the blessed Virgin Mary, The Holy Father cordially imparts his apostolic blessing as a pledge of wisdom, comfort and strength in the Lord.”


This came in response to a letter Kennedy had written to the Pope, delivered by President Obama:

“I am writing with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines. I was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago, and, although I continue treatment, the disease is taking its toll on me. I am 77 years old and preparing for the next passage of life.”I have been blessed to be a part of a wonderful family, and both of my parents, particularly my mother, kept our Catholic faith at the center of our lives. That gift of faith has sustained, nurtured and provided solace to me in the darkest hours. I know that I have been an imperfect human being, but with the help of my faith, I have tried to right my path.”I want you to know, Your Holiness, that in my nearly 50 years of elective office, I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I’ve worked to welcome the immigrant, fight discrimination and expand access to health care and education. I have opposed the death penalty and fought to end war. Those are the issues that have motivated me and been the focus of my work as a United States Senator.”I also want you to know that even though I am ill, I am committed to do everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life.”I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health care field and will continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone.”I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings.”I continue to pray for God’s blessings on you and our Church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me.”


Here is Cardinal McCarrick reading the Benedict letter as well as the letter from Kennedy to the Pope.

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posted August 30, 2009 at 12:59 am

That seems like a very Catholic and lofty kind of prayer – no surprise. On the other hand, I can’t parse it clearly. Is it encouraging? judgmental? Is it damning with faint praise? I just don’t know how I would feel if I received such a message.

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posted August 30, 2009 at 1:57 am

After reading your blog, I find this story in Time Magazine puzzling. The author makes it sound as if the letter from Kennedy to the pope has remained a secret, and that whether or not there was a reply is an unknown. However, your story shows this is not the case. The author seems to be trying to whip up some controversy–even if the pope has not said anything after Kennedy’s death, it’s a strange lead.,8599,1919064,00.html?iid=tsmodule

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Allan Heather

posted August 30, 2009 at 10:07 am

I know a lot of catholics, especially politicians, who subordinate their faith and teachings of their church to a higher calling of liberalism. Today, being a devout catholic is very hard. But to those of us who ‘hang in there’, the reward of self-esteem, and the absence of hypocrisy, is worth the effort.

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Range Rover

posted September 1, 2009 at 11:04 am

I remember when President Kennedy ran as the first Catholic presidential candidate, there was an undercurrent from prejudiced opponents to the effect that the Vatican would have a hand in shaping American policy.
I can’t help but thinking that the rather cold response from the Pope to Senator Kennedy’s deeply emotional letter is evidence that the Vatican did in fact expect Kennedy, as a Catholic, to support the Church’s pro-life position. But Kennedy, whatever he felt about abortion as a choice, felt that government should not intrude upon what is essentially a personal decision on religious grounds. SO I think the Senator was courageous in this, quite so in fact.
The Vatican did not even issue a formal statement upon his death, despite his tireless advocacy for the poor and for peace, causes that have always engaged the Church.

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posted September 1, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I find it rather telling that in 1960 conservatives disliked a Kennedy because they feared he would listen to the Vatican too much, and in 2009 they dislike a Kennedy because he didn’t listen to the Vatican enough.
Seems some folks will never be satisfied.

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Gerard Nadal

posted September 1, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Long time no see. I hope you are well and enjoying the remainder of the summer. The issue of slaughtering babies is neither a Catholic, nor a political issue, though it has been demagoged as such. It is a human issue, which makes it proper matter for christian anthropology.
By any standard, over 50 million slaughtered babies in the US since 1973, 1.7 BILLION worldwide since 1960 is an atrocity that beggars the imagination.
As I listened to people lionizing Teddy for his convictions on abortion and not caving to ‘Papal’ pressure, I was reminded of U.S. Grant’s memoirs, in which he expressed admiration for R.E. Lee’s courage of his convictions, “though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought.”
Well said Grant.
God Bless

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dan g.

posted September 1, 2009 at 8:34 pm

ted can embellish and explain all he wants. forget cheating at harvard( what a lazy sob), divorce, chappaquiddick, and the rest. the fact is the man has directly and indirectly supported abortion and as a catholic that is not acceptable. hitler had a huge number of great ideas for the downtrodden germans after ww1 and the treaty of versailles, but all of that was overshadowed by his plans and enactment of the horrid war he started when he invaded poland, and by his atrocious belief and enactment of the extermination of 8 million or so jew. murder is murder and that is all. if you support it or the presidential candidate of the usa who supports it, no difference. you are culpable. did kennedy confess that on his death bed. did he receive the last rites. we dont know. hopefully he did. but a discussion on his stance on abortion and his vehement support of obama would be appropriate, at least by some catholic clergy/theologians. we all need to learn from his passing.

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steve snead

posted September 2, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Speaking of hypocrites check out the two generals Lee and Grant. One of em freed his slaves before the war. Hint: It wasn’t Grant!

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Katie Angel

posted September 3, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Being a good Catholic is about more than abortion. It is about living ALL of the spiritual and corporate works of mercy. It is about a life lived to glorify God and to walk in the footsteps of Christ and the apostles. Ted Kennedy was a man, like all others flawed and forgiven, and none of us are in the position to judge his heart. He did work his entire life for those who were less fortunate and was true statesman – perhaps the last of a dying breed. I was not personally fond of him but I recognized his commitment and his faith. May God grant his family grace and peace and welcome the Senator to Heaven saying “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

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Your Name

posted September 7, 2009 at 1:34 am

To Katie Angel, well written! As humans we are not perfect in free will of choices. but if we see and know the error and try to right a wrong, then we are all forgiven. “God sent us his only begotten Son to teach, and die on the cross for our sins.” I have personally met Jack, Ted and Joan Kennedy along with many grass roots volunteers to members of the Congress, members of Presidential families–and even a President! It takes great courage to go into public life and never having a “normal” personal life. They are committed to service to others. To those who condemn, who are you to judge? Hsve you sinned, asked forgiveness, committed to serve your fellow man? Do you know your destiny and have joy and love in your life? If not-find it!
May God’s eternal light shine upon his servant and grant him peace. May God’s healing Angels surround those grieving in comfort and love.

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