This is going to ruffle feathers.
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley last night issued a forceful defense of his decision to participate in the funeral of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, an appearance that has drawn sharp criticism from some conservative Catholics because of Kennedy’s ardent support for abortion rights.
O’Malley, writing in his blog, also revealed the substance of a conversation he had with President Obama near the altar of the Mission Church as the congregation assembled for Saturday’s funeral. He said he told Obama that the Catholic bishops are “anxious to support a plan for universal health care, but we will not support a plan that will include a provision for abortion or could open the way to abortions in the future.’’
But the most impassioned part of the cardinal’s blog post - which is at times folksy, at times cerebral, and punctuated by snapshots of the memorial events - is a de facto plea for greater civility among Catholics when discussing divisive issues. He warned against “harsh judgments’’ and attributing “the worst motives’’ to people with whom Catholics have disagreements, saying “these atti tudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church.’’
I did not watch the Kennedy funeral, but I gathered from reports that Cardinal O'Malley attended in choir (instead of concelebrating). I thought this was an acceptable compromise approach to making an appearance but not "endorsing" the proceedings.
This is something different, however.
".... [here is] one of the most important lessons that pastors in the United States need to draw from the history of the Church’s interactions with Senator Kennedy for its future engagement of other pro-abortion Catholic politicians. Despite the good intentions to try to engage him, teach him, and help bring him to conversion, the strategy failed. There were many words given at the Senator’s exequies about his “private faith,” but private faith is not enough. “Faith without deeds is dead,” as St. James poignantly reminds us. The Church has a responsibility to help bring people from “private faith” to see the consequences of it in public actions, and, in the Senator’s case, we didn’t succeed."