Diogene’s mordent commentary on the funeral of Sen. Kennedy

From Diogenes:

Good morning, class. Today we’re going to see how well you understand what you read.

Please read carefully through the blog post in which Cardinal O’Malley justifies his participation in the canonization funeral of Ted Kennedy. Then answer the following questions in the time provided.

1. Who should be denied a Catholic funeral?
 

A) Politicians who deny principal tenets of Catholic moral teaching.
B) The faithful who are scandalized by these politicians.
C) People who don’t care that Placido Domingo sang at the funeral.’
D) Both B and C

2. Enabling the deaths of millions of preborn children is:

A) A grave sin
B) A lost opportunity

3. True or False: President Obama was listening intently, and genuine weighing the possibilities, when Cardinal O’Malley urged him not to include an abortion mandate in his health-care reform package.

4. In the text of the cardinal’s blog post, circle five non-sequiturs– comments that have no bearing whatsoever on the question of whether or not Ted Kennedy should have been allowed a Catholic funeral.

(Some acceptable answers: Eunice was a good Catholic; there are thatched roofs in County Mayo; the Irish greet each other in Gaelic, Rose Kennedy had a memorial card inscribed with a message of faith; the Kennedy boys all served in the armed forces; Jack broke the "glass ceiling" for Catholics in America; Placido Domingo has a great voice.)

5. Apply What You Have Learned: In 2002, Bishop Thomas Daily of Brooklyn refused to allow a Catholic funeral for John Gotti, notorious leader of the Gambino crime family. The "Dapper Don" had spent 2 years in prison before his death: ample time to allow for confession and repentance. Still Bishop Daily concluded that a public funeral for a known Mafia figure would cause a public scandal. Compassion required a public funeral for Ted Kennedy– whose contempt for Church teaching on the dignity of human life was a matter of public record, never recanted– but did not require a public funeral for John Gotti. Why? (Circle all that apply.)

A) The Don didn’t own a single Placido Domingo 8-track, just music by Pavarotti.
B) They don’t have thatched roofs on Sicilian cottages.
C) The Don’s family wasn’t as nice. OK, his mother was nice, but she didn’t have such a nice Memorial card.
D) The only "glass ceiling" Gotti ever broke was shattered by a tommy-gun blast.
E) No Italian mother would name a daughter "Eunice."

All right, time’s up. As you pass your papers forward, let’s all join in a chorus of "Danny Boy."

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29 Responses to Diogene’s mordent commentary on the funeral of Sen. Kennedy

  1. Navarricano says:

    I saw this yesterday at the Catholic Culture site. Absolutely brilliant and spot on.

    Cardinal O’Malley’s blog piece was positively Kafka-esque in its relentless barrage of bizarre non-sequiturs and irrelevant and illogical arguments offered in defense of what amounts to a grave public scandal. A case could be made after reading it that the most pressing educational need in our seminaries is the study of classical logic as well as a thorough review of what constitutes the sin of scandal.

    A quick read through the Comments associated is also rather disheartening. Lots of sentimental WWJD types of comments in support of the Cardinal’s explanation.

  2. mpm says:

    Yeah, it’s a cute piece (as usual).

    But frankly, I found Diogenes’s additional diatribe over Bishop Morlino’s column dealing with the Kennedy funeral to be despicable.

    So, while I agree with another poster that priests (and all of us) need to have a better grounding in the moral theology of “scandal”, and make a concerted effort to avoid giving scandal, let us remember that giving scandal is not a sin exclusive to the office of a bishop.

  3. Prudentius says:

    What’s with the Danny Boy comment at the end? Is the insinuation here that this is an Irish thing? The Irish already seem to be the scapegoat over the Abuse scandal as if it was more Irish than Clerical.
    Also, with regards to “lots of sentimental WWJD types of comments in support of the Cardinal’s explanation.” Some of those comments call for forgiveness, misguided perhaps but hardly disheartening?

  4. Gabriella says:

    “Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
    From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
    The summer’s gone, and all the flowers are dying
    ‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide”.

    I love the sarcasm in the whole thing!

    And, yes, as an Italian mother, I confirm I would never call any daughter of mine “Eunice” :)

  5. Moles says:

    Father Z,

    I must respectfully disagree with you a on this topic. [With me? I didn’t write this.] I feel […orrrrr….. “think”, perhaps?] that as a Catholic, we are instructed by Jesus not to remove the speck out of another’s eye, until we remove the plank from our own. Now I in no way agree with the late Senator’s views on Abortion, I don’t feel that it is my place to judge his soul in any way. [You just did. You said you disagreed. You made a judgment about his position. This whole “don’t be judgmental” thing is out of control. People make judgments all the time. We have to. We are rational human beings.] I actually pray to our Heavenly Father that Senator Kenedy’s soul was saved. I honestly hope that his last hours saw him repent for his sins. We just really don’t know what transpired, and that is between him and God.

    Now if you would like to comment about the lack of respect for the Blessed Sacrament, I will be on board whole heartedly. I can’t help but come back to the prayers of the faithful where not a single person crossing in front of the tabernacle showed any form of reverence for Jesus. Not a bow, not a genuflection, nothing. I couldn’t help but think of this at mass this weekend as I stepped up to the ambo to read at mass. When my kids joined me on the alter to help clean up, I instructed them clearly that Jesus was in the “gold box” and that if they cross in front of it, they need to genuflect (they are 5 and 3). My question to the Cardinal was just this, how can he allow a Mass in his diocese to become a circus where Jesus wasn’t given the respect he so rightfully deserves.

    I guess I would like to see some benefit of the doubt for this man’s soul. [I don’t believe very many people are focused on the state of Sen. Kennedy’s soul, friend. If you read the entries here and elsewhere in the blogosphere, the questions raised about the funeral concerned the possibility of causing scandal. Most commentary after the funeral itself lamented that people seemed not to be praying for the late Senator’s soul. So, perhaps you need to read a little more closely.] We all want salvation, and it is our jobs as Catholics to speak for those who cannot do so themselves. I just don’t think that judging a man who is now dead is the answer. [You just made the same mistake again.] We have crazy men in my state killing abortion doctors. We have radical pro life people using scare tactics and verbal abuse against the young women going into planned parenthood. I find this discusting. WE must speak out, but I think we need to do so in a way that pleases our Lord. We shouldn’t be judgemental, [There’s that word…] we shouldn’t be violent, we should be loving. [Which means… what… ?] Offer our prayers, our love, and our support. I believe the Cardinal was right in this manner, we will win over this evil with love, not with more hate.

    Peace to you.

  6. MenTaLguY says:

    Moles, it is worth remembering again that the issue at hand is not the state of Ted Kennedy’s soul (which we are not in a position to assess), but rather public scandal. Even setting aside the issue of whether a Catholic funeral should even have been held, the way in which the funeral was conducted would have been radically inappropriate regardless of who it was being held for.

    Discipline and restraint are not hate.

  7. mpm says:

    Moles,

    Respectfully, the only words of Fr. Z on this post are “From Diogenes”?

  8. Prudentius says:

    Amen to Moles’s comment

    If Franco and Pinochet can get a Catholic burial so can Kennedy. They cared nothing for human life either. But then when did having a consistent life ethic ever get in the way? [Neither Franco nor Pinochet were American elected officials.]

  9. This is a public scandal. There could have been a private mass held for Kennedy if he indeed, repented. Why is it a scandal? Because I am homeschooling my children to give them a firm foundation in their faith so that they can avoid mortal sins as much as possible so that they may become holy and get to heaven. When I see someone who blatantly disregards moral teachings of the Church and then is given a funeral mass with a Cardinal presiding, it makes me wonder why I bother making such sacrifices. My family goes without many things so that I may stay home with them. I actually questioned my decision after this. I have no support. My family is the only orthodox Catholic family in our town and our region who homeschools. So when I see something like this, it makes me question what I am doing. And that is scandalous.

  10. Navarricano says:

    As I read the original piece, the “Danny Boy” comment was an ironic allusion to the Cardinal’s sentimental invocation of picturesque Irish clichés (thatched roof houses, Gaelic greetings and the Kennedy photos on the wall next to the photos of Pope John XXIII, etc.), presumably as an explanation of why it was an appropriate thing to do, this offering of a funeral Mass for the late senator.

    After all, the Irish lived in thatched roof cottages and invoked the God and the Blessed Virgin as they greeted one another in Gaelic and, well, were just so darned proud of that Kennedy boy, don’tcha know; so just why shouldn’t the senator have had a Catholic funeral?

    Over the top and, apart from irrelevant, just plain silly. The Danny Boy comment was meant to draw attention to just how silly and irrelevant the senator’s “Oirishness” is to the question at hand.

    It is disheartening, yes, to see how muddle-headed and sentimental most of the comments were with regard to the question of whether or not the senator should have had a Catholic funeral, and how completely incapable of spotting the weakness of the Cardinal’s arguments most posters were. But then, I’m divisive and clearly not as compassionate as the Cardinal and his supporters are.

    We (unlike the folks who composed the intercessions and the homily, apparently) cannot know whether or not the late senator is in Heaven. We are obligated to pray for his soul and for the forgiveness of his sins. THAT is an exercise of mercy, not ignoring the glaring contradictions between what he thought himself to be and his very public actions (and their mortal consequences) while effusing about the man’s Irish heritage, his mother’s wonderful memorial card and the impressive music of the memorial service.

    Jesus WAS merciful when repentant sinners approached Him. And most severe with the unrepentant. Since we cannot know whether or not the senator repented (and Cardinal O’Malley would not be able to tell us even if he knew or wanted to) we can only hope and pray.

    Forgiveness, mercy, repentance and compassion are not emotions, and they are ill-served by sentimentalism, in my view. They require clear heads, firm wills and the moral courage necessary to call to accountability those who, by their public words and deeds, allow or promote great evils. One of the greatest failures of successive archbishops of Boston, in my opinion, was their failure to do this clearly, consistently and publicly while the man was alive, perhaps out of inordinate respect for the worldy power of the seantor and his family. (P.S. esteemed Princes of the Church, you’ve still got time with certain other Catholic senators and representatives.)

    I repeat, we must pray for Senator Kennedy’s forgiveness and for God’s mercy on his soul.

  11. robtbrown says:

    What’s with the Danny Boy comment at the end? Is the insinuation here that this is an Irish thing? The Irish already seem to be the scapegoat over the Abuse scandal as if it was more Irish than Clerical. Also, with regards to “lots of sentimental WWJD types of comments in support of the Cardinal’s explanation.” Some of those comments call for forgiveness, misguided perhaps but hardly disheartening?
    Comment by Prudentius

    I think it’s more directed against inculturation.

  12. robtbrown says:

    If Franco and Pinochet can get a Catholic burial so can Kennedy. They cared nothing for human life either. But then when did having a consistent life ethic ever get in the way?
    Comment by Prudentius

    It seems that you buy the liberal claptrap about Franco.

    It was Franco who saved the Church in Spain from her enemies. Before Franco, there was constant anti-clericalism.

  13. haleype says:

    This is all about scandal not the state of Sen. Kennedy’s soul. He`deserves prayers for his immortal soul just like any other deceased Catholic. But a public emotional tribute led by two Cardinals of the Church? Come on! I was raised in the state of Massachusetts in the 40s and 50s and I know from personal experience that there is much “winking” over the failures and sins of Catholic politicians, especially those with an Irish name. And, lest anyone think I’m against the Irish, I, too, have an Irish background. But, I am also sickened by what has happened to my home state and to the duplicity demonstrated by many if its Irish Catholic politicians. The bishops of the Church in that state have much to answer for but so do we, the sheep for allowing such things to occur.

  14. robtbrown says:

    But frankly, I found Diogenes’s additional diatribe over Bishop Morlino’s column dealing with the Kennedy funeral to be despicable.

    So, while I agree with another poster that priests (and all of us) need to have a better grounding in the moral theology of “scandal”, and make a concerted effort to avoid giving scandal, let us remember that giving scandal is not a sin exclusive to the office of a bishop.
    Comment by mpm

    It was not a diatribe, nor was it scandalous. D simply parodied Bp Morlino’s attempt to explain away the Kennedy beatification mass.

  15. Prudentius says:

    Shock, Horror! Liturgical Traditionalist defends Franco!…Again!

    Try telling that to the Catholic Priests in the Basque region he murdered. But of course, he defended the Church so he was ok despite bombing of Guernica and the thousands of other he killed. And please don’t bore me with how I am Communist and the Republicans were all anti-clerical. You and I both know Franco has nothing to with the Gospels or the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
    No matter how hard you try Franco will never ever fit with the Beatitudes.

  16. Prudentius: No matter how you try, this entry is not about Franco. Clear?

  17. Moles says:

    Father Z,

    First of thank you for not just ignoring or deleting my post. In response I would like to clarify.

    [With me? I didn’t write this.] -> I believe, and I could be wrong, that you agree with general thought that Senator Kennedy shouldn’t have had a Catholic funeral. Maybe I have misread your blog posts on this topic. [You have misread me. I think he should have had a funeral, for the purpose of praying for his soul, but not a scandalous exaltation of his life on millions of televisions.] I usually find myself agreeing with you, odd for a product of Jesuit schools, but I just don’t see the scandalous nature of having a funeral Mass for this man. [Really?] I think the lack of respect for the Blessed Sacrament is more an issue for argument than the possibility that Ted repented and asked forgiveness. I would have loved a public statement as an American Catholic, but again this is between him and God. I know we can discuss until we are blue in the face, but I would like to give the man the benefit of the doubt. Again I am in no way a supporter of this man’s politics on Abortion, and I wouldn’t have voted for him no matter how many quality programs he passed, because of the abortion issue. I just feel that the scandal in this situation was the abuse of the Rite and the lack of respect for our Lord.

    […orrrrr….. “think”, perhaps?] no I do mean feel. I try to live my religious life with emotion and passion. I don’t seldom succeed, but I do try. I feel that we must try to put our selves in Jesus’ sandals and feel how he did about those who tried to stone Mary Magdalene. Again, I don’t seldom succeed, but its a thought to try to model our lives.

    [You just did. You said you disagreed. You made a judgment about his position. This whole “don’t be judgmental” thing is out of control. People make judgments all the time. We have to. We are rational human beings.] – Disagreement is not the same as judging. You are correct that we all judge, and I do as well, however I don’t see how disagreeing with someone is the same as judging them, maybe I am short sided. I am definitely not an argumentative genius by any means, but I believe it is possible for me to not agree with your view on a topic, but not judge you on your position. I don’t feel it is my place to judge mankind’s sins against God. That is not my place. My place is to try to model my life how He wants me to. Judging Kennedy’s sins attempts to make us divine. Disagreeing with his position on Abortion makes us Catholics. We all agree, I assume on this blog anyway, that our Holy Father is always correct with respect to the Church. As such, I believe what the Pope says about abortion being wrong. My disagreement stems from such statements about respecting all life. I don’t see how this is judging, but correct me if I am wrong. [running out of time for reading this….]

    [I don’t believe very many people are focused on the state of Sen. Kennedy’s soul, friend. If you read the entries here and elsewhere in the blogosphere, the questions raised about the funeral concerned the possibility of causing scandal. Most commentary after the funeral itself lamented that people seemed not to be praying for the late Senator’s soul. So, perhaps you need to read a little more closely.] – you are correct, most commentary isn’t about his soul, but isn’t that our job as Catholics? Are we not supposed to pray for his soul. To help give his soul every opportunity to enter heaven? Again, I just feel we have the right to demand our Bishops honor the Mass. We have the right to expect those who enter the doors of any of the church building that make up our Universal Church to honor Jesus the way we should (I won’t say do since many Catholics don’t at all times, self included). Again, my disagreement is that I feel we should focus on the circus that was made of that Mass and leave the judgement of Kennedy for God. I would love to see someone high up in the Church come out and say, “Kennedy sinned against God, he atoned for those sins, [ummmm…. he did?] but there were many there who made a travesty of the Blessed Sacrament that day, and they need to go to Confession.” Yea I am being judgmental, but don’t we have the right to demand that our Church leaders lead by example? Shouldn’t those who help the lay through the Rites be expected to follow those rights. Shouldn’t those that teach the dogmatic laws and traditions of our faith be expected to follow those?

    [Which means… what… ?] I don’t know, praying for them (him). Speaking out against those who do support abortion in a way that opens respectful communication. [And how is that done? Have there been effective examples of this?] Teaching them what is right instead of attacking them. I remember my freshman year at KU when a pro life group brought very large (billboard sized) pictures of aborted children to campus to convince people that abortion was wrong. Would it not have been a better solution to hold the hand of a young woman in prayer while she was agonizing with a decision that might affect her for life (and afterlife).

    I feel that as a priest you have a responsibility to speak from a side of love, while tending your sheep. I believe anyone following your blog agrees that Kennedy sinned in his public life with respect to abortion. We all would probably agree that the Jesuits at BC should be punished by the Church leadership for giving the Kennedy family such an out. I just don’t think we should focus on his being granted a Catholic Funeral, [You have missed the point.] that may have saved his soul.

    Now lets talk about why our Church leaders should refuse Eucharist to those who support abortion. I would like to see these politicians choose between being reelected and God… :)

    We will probably not agree on this topic, but I do thank you for the consideration of a rebuttal. [rebuttal?]

    Peace to you.

  18. Prudentius says:

    Is it not relevant to raise the point that we can attack Kennedy and suggests that he should have been refused a Catholic Funeral for disobeying the teachings of Mother Church. But we are deafeningly silent when it comes to Catholics who were given a Catholic burial despite being far worse? Not only that, we celebrate them and are then suprised when people think of us as hypocrites? Is that fair?

    Until you shake of the right wing baggage you will never have any credibility to speak with any authority on such issues.

  19. What’s implied is that on her deathbed, Eunice Kennedy made Cardinal Sean swear to give Teddy a Catholic funeral. Either that, or she just made him feel really, really bad until he felt bound by her dead hand. That’s his excuse.

    Why does nobody else get this? It just screams maternal Irish coercion. If he wrote “I’m under geas” in big red letters, it couldn’t be more obvious.

  20. mpm says:

    Comment by robtbrown — 8 September 2009 @ 10:25 am

    I know what Diogenes did. Then I read Bishop Morlino’s piece, where he had this to say:

    Senator Kennedy, a good number of years ago, convened a meeting of priests and very high-level theologians to address the issue of Catholic political leaders and their votes with regard to abortion. Obviously, the very convening of this meeting showed that he took his Catholicism seriously and did not consider himself to be an accomplished theologian. Sadly, that meeting simply became another occasion for the development by theologians of the “two-conscience” approach to the faith for Catholic political leaders — that is the approach which says, “privately I’m opposed to abortion, but in the public arena there are other conflicting responsibilities which allow me to vote in favor of legal abortion.”

    No matter how many theologians get together, the two-conscience theory is irreparably flawed and wrong, and no one can make it otherwise. But if Senator Kennedy was given this advice and this approach, this “catechesis” — false though it is — by prominent theologians, it could at least be said that there was some ground for confusion and ambiguity in his own practice about these matters. The priests and theologians who counseled Senator Kennedy are not free of blame for causing the confusion and the ambiguity through false catechesis.

    God forbid that I be taken as making excuses for Teddy Kennedy’s behavior in certain areas, yet Senator Kennedy’s having written a personal letter to our Holy Father during his last days, a letter that was hand-delivered by President Obama, is also an indication that he believed that the pope alone was the Vicar of Christ, and he wanted to make absolutely sure that our Holy Father received his letter. And too, since priests were regularly present to him during his final year and final days, it would be more reasonable than not to believe that he had made a good confession.

    Senator Kennedy’s funeral is now history. For the time being, Bishop Morlino is still very much with us, in every sense of the word.

  21. robtbrown says:

    Shock, Horror! Liturgical Traditionalist defends Franco

    I’ve made it clear here that I am in no way a Traditionalist. I simply agree with what JXXIII said in Veterum Sapientia about the importance of Latin to the Church.

    Further, I think that since Vat II the Church has been Protestantized, and liturgy is one aspect of that Protestantization.

    Try telling that to the Catholic Priests in the Basque region he murdered. But of course, he defended the Church so he was ok despite bombing of Guernica and the thousands of other he killed.

    I never said that I agree with his politics. Politically, I consider myself a Left Wing Conservative.

    And please don’t bore me with how I am Communist and the Republicans were all anti-clerical.

    No need to–you seem more than capable of boring yourself.

    You and I both know Franco has nothing to with the Gospels or the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

    Franco was a daily communicant who never challenged the teaching authority of the Church.

    No matter how hard you try Franco will never ever fit with the Beatitudes.
    Comment by Prudentius

    OK, let’s apply your principles to Paul VI, under whose guidance the liturgy became a bad Protestant joke, thousands of priests left the active ministry, the monasteries and seminaries became corrupted, and the laity streamed out of the Church.

    How did the Montini papacy “ever fit with the Beatitudes”?

  22. Chrysologus says:

    I find this (re-)post to be unhelpful vitriol. A real engagement of the issues would be far more helpful than mocking a cardinal, even one you disagree with strongly.

  23. robtbrown says:

    Is it not relevant to raise the point that we can attack Kennedy and suggests that he should have been refused a Catholic Funeral for disobeying the teachings of Mother Church.

    Kennedy didn’t merely disobey the teachings of Mother Church. By actively and publicly promoting abortion, he denied the teaching authority of the Church.

    But we are deafeningly silent when it comes to Catholics who were given a Catholic burial despite being far worse?

    Let us know when such public people have a funeral, and maybe there won’t be silence.

    Not only that, we celebrate them and are then suprised when people think of us as hypocrites? Is that fair?

    Who’s being celebrated?

    Until you shake of the right wing baggage you will never have any credibility to speak with any authority on such issues.
    Comment by Prudentius

    I think you assume incorrectly that anyone who disapproved of Kennedy’s promotion of abortion is a right winger.

  24. robtbrown says:

    mpm,

    First, the meeting of Kennedy and various priests was not to determine how to promote Church teaching but rather to see whether there was a way around it. It was much like Bushco assembling lawyers to find a way around torture.

    Second, Ted Kennedy is dead, but a substantial part of his legacy was being the leader in the attack on Robt Bork, who would have voted to overturn Roe v Wade and make abortion a matter for state legislatures.

  25. mpm says:

    robtbrown,

    I get it, I get it. Ted Kennedy didn’t float your boat. I’m not such a great Catholic either, so I’m not expecting fan mail.

    OK, let’s stipulate that the funeral in Boston (which I didn’t watch, having a pretty good idea that it would not be especially edifying) was a) not untypical for a Catholic funeral in the USA these days, as far as the ceremonial goes, and b) not good enough.

    I think Diogenes had his blood up, and taking umbrage at a peripheral point being made by Bishop Morlino, made the trivial point that Morlino didn’t shoot any verbal spitballs in the direction of Cardinal O’Malley.

    Yet the truly substantive message which the Bishop did address (quoted above) in a clear moral theological and pastoral way, was ignored.

    Pique trumps all!

    Now, stand for the Creed.

  26. markomalley says:

    This Kennedy funeral was a wasted opportunity to demonstrate God’s mercy. Had they handled it right, they could have done so without even insinuating anything about his life one way or the other. But they did not do so. They decided to do just the opposite, to the detriment of the Church and the whole world.

    Unfortunately, that decision is not at all surprising anymore.

  27. robtbrown says:

    Yet the truly substantive message which the Bishop did address (quoted above) in a clear moral theological and pastoral way, was ignored.
    Comment by mpm

    I agree that there was a substantive message, but talk only goes so far. Sometimes action is what is necessary.

    I’m sure that all the bishops shuffling priest predators to new pastoral assignments thought such behavior was morally repugnant. Still, they did nothing to stop it.

    Talk is cheap.