An American bishop calls the Kennedy funeral a “scandal”

As I have been repeating, the funeral for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy is still forcing us to think, and discuss, a) what funerals are for, b) what public scandal is.

Many people are now confused. Confusion is precisely one of the things scandal causes.

I don’t think people are so upset by the fact that Sen. Kennedy should have a funeral.  Most Catholics would probably say, yes, he should have had a funeral.

But funerals are for the purpose of praying for the soul of the deceased. 

The Kennedy funeral gave the impression that those gathered were praying to the late Senator. 

Where we as Catholics want to offer prayers for the soul of the pro-abortion advocate, hoping that he found forgiveness and asking God for mercy, instead we got an apotheosis.

I don’t think most Catholics, even conservatives, would have objected to a discreet funeral.  They do object to the vast public celebration of the life of the long-time advocate of abortion rights. 

They don’t object to the fact that the late Senator tried to help the poor in many ways during his years in the Senate.  They do object to his advocacy of abortion rights despite the fact that he was Catholic, infamously Catholic.

Here is something very interesting from Lifesite:

Tuesday September 8, 2009

First US Bishop to Decry the "Scandal" of the Kennedy Funeral

By John-Henry Westen

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX, September 8, 2009 ( – Bishop Rene Henry Gracida, retired Roman Catholic Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas has denounced the "scandal" of the Kennedy funeral.  Writing on his blog, Bishop Gracida said, "There was so much wrong with the funeral liturgy celebrated in Boston last Saturday for Senator Edward Moore Kennedy that I hardly know where to begin."

He added: "Aside from the impropriety of such a grandiose celebration for one of the country’s most notorious dissident Catholics, the ‘celebration’ was filled with liturgical errors and transgressions against the General Instruction of the Roman Missal which governs every celebration of the Church’s liturgy."

Rather than going into specifics about the abuses himself, Bishop Gracida posted commentaries by lay and clerical pro-life leaders who identified the gravity of the scandal. "I am afraid that if I, a bishop, were to go into the details of the scandal it would only add to the scandal and so I will let the laity speak to it," he said.

Bishop Gracida reposted several commentaries from lay leaders in the pro-life movement in various posts.  He, however, gave special attention to the commentary by Phil Lawler of Catholic World News.  Said Bishop Gracida: "It is not unreasonable to suggest that the ‘buck’ for the scandal of the secular extravaganza which obscured the sacred liturgical nature of the Kennedy funeral should stop at the desk of the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston.  Again, since I do not want to directly criticize another bishop, I leave it to the laity to analyze the true nature of that celebration.  I give the final word to a layman for whom I have a great deal of respect: Phillip Lawler."

To read Lawler’s commentaries on the Kennedy funeral extravaganza in full click here.

See Bishop Gracida’s blog here.

Nota bene: This is a retired bishop.

But a pebble can start a rock slide can start an avalanche.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. EXCHIEF says:

    I agree. Bp Gracida is the pebble. Unfortunately the USCCB is the rock slide and it is doubtful they will move, and the Vatican is the avalanche and I don’t see it moving either. Now if there were a lot more pebbles there might be a chance.

  2. I think that Bishop Gracida is right on the money. There was enough wrong with that particular Funeral Mass.

    I personally believe that High Requiem Masses must be dignified and solemn affairs at which we pray for the repose of the departed. There is nothing more that one can add to it and nothing that can be subtracted. Before the Council, we were constantly reminded in the Requiem Mass that we were there to pray for the soul to get to heaven. Remember the Dies IRae and the Libera Me? Those weren’t necessarily celebrations of resurrection. They were poems that testified to our need for repentance and redemption.

    Looking back, I think that the funerals for President Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy were much more dignified than what happened over at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston. Maybe, it’s a sign of hte times. Perhaps, it’s more a sign of how much the world has changed in those forty years.

  3. Roland de Chanson says:

    Can it be true that there are rampant whispers in the loggia that the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston volunteered to resign if there were a spare sinecure in a major Roman basilica? Naaahh….

  4. Hidden One says:

    Posts like these are why I have been following Bp. Gracida’s blog ever since I discovered it existed more than a few months ago. He doesn’t pull punches.

  5. Supertradmom says:

    Thanks for drawing my attention to this holy man.

  6. TNCath says:

    Isn’t it about time for the ad limina visits for the United States bishops to take place?

    When the bishops gather in Rome with their quinquennial reports in hand, I hope and pray that the Holy Father gives them a rather strong correction about this issue as well as the identity of Catholic colleges and universities and liturgy.

  7. albizzi says:

    Bishop against bishops?

  8. Joe Magarac says:

    Count me among those who think that Catholic funerals should be prayers for the deceased and not celebrations of his life. That goes double when the deceased gave public scandal the way Ted Kennedy did.

    I have been looking to see whether formal Church teaching supports this sense that Catholic funerals are not supposed to celebrate the life of the deceased. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look that way. From the Order of Christian Funerals, promulgated by A. Bugnini, given the imprimatur, and apparently still in effect:

    Para 5. Christians celebrate the funeral rites to offer worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God for the gift of a life which has now been returned to God ….

    Para 6. The Church through its funeral rites commends the dead to God’s merciful love and pleads for the forgiveness of their sins ….

    It appears that Para. 6 continues the tradition as it was handed on in the 1960s, but Para. 5 adds the new “celebrate the life” bit that appears to me to be an unwonted innovation. But if both paragraphs are official Church teaching, I am thinking that as a layman I will need to moderate my position until the hierarchy, guided by the Spirit, hopefully changes this teaching.

  9. RichR says:

    A photo of His Excellency celebrating a Pontifical Nuptial Mass in the Extraordinary Form:

    Nuptial Mass Blessing

  10. I don’t have a problem with prohibiting eulogies, if only because people usually embarrass themselves in doing them. But I know of places where such prohibitions apply, but are put aside when a priest dies. I don’t mean to engage in generalities here, but it’s my impression that priests are as much in need of prayers upon their passing as the rest of us.

  11. Joanne says:

    “During his wake at Boston’s Kennedy Library, a woman wearing a “fetal feet” lapel pin was stopped at the door and informed that pro-lifers would not be allowed to view the Senator’s casket.”

    I found this column excellent and wanted to forward it to some friends, but didn’t…simply because I find it almost impossible to believe that the above actually occurred (someone wearing a fetal feet pin was barred from viewing Kennedy’s casket). I wrote to Phil Lawler to ask him who witnessed this. He responded that he heard this directly from the woman who was refused, someone whose testimony he trusts.

    Well, I don’t know this woman and to be honest, I can’t help being skeptical that this actually happened (sorry to anyone who is offended by that). Has anyone else heard reports of this? A “fetal feet” pin is tiny and its symbolism, as far as I can tell, is almost unknown outside the prolife community. And who was it that turned this person away?

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