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« The Cardinal | Main | What is Sen. Ted Kennedy's "Catholic legacy"? »

Thursday, August 27, 2009

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T. Shaw

Ted Kennedy is being canonized 24/7 by secular progressives and liberal media outlets.

To whom did he "give some sign of repentence"? I think his deeds were nationally and publicly manifested. Without a public rendering of "some sign of repentance", I don't buy it.

A catholic funeral will be yet another catholic endorsement of abortion, ESCR, artificial contraception, divorce/destruction of the family, etc. inappropriately based on the plenary indulgence afforded by left-liberalism.

This could be a teaching moment. But it will not.

Subvet

Like it or not, Ted Kennedy is just as likely to have repented prior to death as any other sinner. For that reason he deserves burial in the Church as much as any Catholic.

God rest his soul.

Felix

Well, it is not clear whether or not Ted Kennedy actually repented for his manifest sins of supporting abortion, contraception, embryo manipulative and destructive research, state's endorsement of sodomy, supporting of Obama, etc. If Fr. Patrick Terrant did indeed hear or see him repent of such manifest sins, then he would qualify for Catholic funeral rites and masses. But, I guess the only ones that would know about it would be Fr. Terrant and his bishop. Perhaps they should reveal whether or not such a repentance took place. It follows that with manifest grave sins, it is necessary to have manifest repentance in order to eliminate the public scandal among the faithful which Canon 1184 intends to avoid.

Stephen Sparrow

Yes T. Shaw, I doubt anybody at the funeral will say anything about the man's murky past - but then that applies to each one of us and he just happens to come across as a very public sinner, which as Jesus said, "from those who have been given more, more will be expected" (can't remember exact wording). I remember a story told about St John Vianney consoling a mother over the suicide of her son who had jumped from a bridge. The Cure told the mother "there is always room for God's mercy between the bridge and the water".

Ed Peters

Guys, the process for making the funeral decision is contained in the Code and commentaries, nothing more or less. Some folks aren't reading either before opining here. Sigh.

Felix

Correction, to my 1:08 PM post, due to the sacramental seal of confession perhaps they are not permitted to reveal whether or not he repented for such manifest sins without his permission. It is the penitent's own duty as a penance to publicly reveal their repentance for such manifest sins, not the priest's.

Ed S

"To whom did he 'give some sign of repentance'"?

I'm really wondering about this. We do know that he tried to change the rules for selecting a replacement for himself. He wanted to make sure that someone would be there in time to vote on health care the same way he would have. That doesn't sound like repentance.

And on top of this possible funeral scandal (most people don't seem to care), we learn from the Boston Globe that President Obama will deliver a eulogy at the funeral Mass. We seem to be going from one slippery slope of Canon Law to another. I'm sure the Notre Dame crowd feels gleefully vindicated.

Regrettably, Obama gets yet another opportunity to convince us that he is virtually Catholic and also to plant some seeds of scandal along the way.

dcms

Senator Kennedy never considered anything that he did a sin as witnessed by his continuing reception of the Eucharist at Mass. The cowardly priests and bishops continued to let him receive and now they will give scandal to the Church again by allowing a Catholic funeral and a forum for the anti life advocates. I believe I am not alone in finding it very hard to believe that Senator Kennedy repented for his decades of support and his accomplice to the murder of millions of unborn when he had numerous chances to previously. I just am so discouraged, disheartened and confused by the our episcopate!

Erenn

Dr Peters, I'm a new Catholic coming from a Southern Baptist background. I realize I'm probably speaking out of turn and true, we cannot know what transpired between the Lord and Sen Kennedy in his final moments. I do hope Satan was denied a victory, but it seems to me the Church should have stepped in regarding Sen Kennedy's advocacy of abortion, homosexuality, etc a long time ago and should do so with other legislators who advocate things which the Church teaches are wrong. Most non-Catholic Christians see Sebelius, Pelosi, Kerry and the Kennedys in Church, receiving the Eucharist and they shake their heads and think the Catholic Church is really all about money & power.

Either this advocacy is wrong or it isn't. And if it is, shouldn't the Church rebuke the advocate (privately, then publicly if need be)?

Ed S

Rereading my post, after reading Ed Peter's complaint above, I feel a need to clarify my comment about the slippery slope of Canon Law.

To be sure, Canon Law and Dr. Peter's explanation of it is not a slippery slope.

I was suggesting that I would not be surprised to find that some people including clergy could easily interpret what was said and done, immediately before and after Kennedy's death, in order to satisfy Canon Law, and in so doing, take care of dear old Teddy.

Carl Kelly

I wonder whether the priest who was with Ted Kennedy at the end and maybe the archbishop as well might be required to make his final repentance manifest (assuming it took place), in the event that the repentant himself was not able to do so.
I also want to say that for most of us such a public maifestation is of course not required. If one examines why Holy Communion is withheld from public figures who directly contradict Church teaching on abortion it becomes clear that their actions have cut them off from the Body of Christ, they are not in communion and so cannot commune with the Body unti they rectify their state.

Matt C

Senator Kennedy's obstinate advocacy of positions which were in complete contradiction to Catholic doctrine (i.e. regarding abortion) caused public scandal. Hence, the redress should be public as well. Senator Kennedy had ample opportunity to recant his position on abortion, stem cell research, same-sex marriage...etc., but chose not to. I hope for the sake of his immortal soul that he repented and made a proper confession before he died. God, and Senator Kennedy's confessor, know whether he did.

However, even if he did make a good confession, he should not be honoured by having a Catholic funeral Mass presided over by Bishop O'Malley. That only causes further scandal.

Mark Brumley

A man who is in the circumstances Mr. Kennedy was described as being in probably does have a "right" to a Christian burial according to the present law and its traditional interpretation. I don't know that what has been reported amount to real "signs of repentance". I hope he did repent; I just have seen no evidence of it.

Granting the the church funeral is justified according to the present legislation and its traditional interpretation, one is still justified in asking whether the criteria of "signs of repentance" are meaningful in the following circumstances.

Suppose a man has been engaging in manifest grave sin for years and has insisted that his activity is entirely consistent with the Catholic faith. He has been told repeatedly by authorities that his view of the matter is wrong, that what he insists is morally acceptable is in fact gravely sinful. The man continues to pray with family, to visit with and be visited by priests, and claims to be a Catholic in good standing, while continuing to engage in manifest grave sin.

Now suppose the man gets a diagnosis of a terminal illness and takes to the sickbed, waiting to die. He continues to behave as he did before--engaging in his manifest grave sin, insisting that it is not sinful, receiving Holy Communion, leading family prayers, and being visited by priest friends. How should we take the activities of receiving Holy Communion, leading family prayers, and being visited by priest friends as "signs of repentance" when we know he did all these things while he engaged in manifest grave sin and saw his action as compatible with them?

Canon 1184 talks about denying Christian funeral rites to "other manifest sinners to whom a Church funeral could not be granted without public scandal to the faithful". The qualification is that such denial of church funerals is to take place unless the persons in question "gave some sign of repentance before death". How, in the scenario above, are we to interpret the activities in question as "signs of repentance", given that in the example above we posit that the sinner did all these things while he was manifestly sinning? I do not deny that the canon is intended to see the actions described above as "signs of repentance" or that that is how things have traditionally been interpreted. I simply question the coherence of such a claim in the light of facts. Whatever the law says or intends to say, we have no more avoided scandal by allowing a Christian funeral in such an instance than we have avoided scandal by allowing the manifest sinner to receive Holy Communion.

Commentators say that it is advisable to make public the signs of repentance in order to avoid the danger of scandal. But if the manifest sinner has been doing for years the things touted now as "signs of repentance" that justify giving the man a church funeral, and he has been doing those same things all while insisting that his sinful activities are not sinful, what is there that can be reasonably interpreted as a "sign of repentance"? How are people not to be led to think that the manifest sins of the manifest sinner are not, after all, sins, since we have no indication that the manifest sinner has repented of them and yet he has received a Christian funeral?

If someone tells me that Senator Kennedy repented of his proabortion rights stance, then I am delighted to say that that is a "sign of repentance". But since he or his representative maintained for years that his proabortion rights stance is consistent with being a Catholic in good standing, with receiving Holy Communion, leading family prayers, and being visited by priest friends, I can't for the life of me figure out why I should see his doing such things on his deathbed as "signs of repentance" for the manifest grave sin of his proabortion rights stance. I can't judge his soul now, even as I couldn't judge it before he died. I can only look at his actions. Unfortunately, what I have read of what has been reported of them gives me no basis for thinking "repentance" occurred. From what I have seen I can be expected to conclude, contrary to what I am fortunate to know from other sources, that a proabortion rights stance publicly maintained by an internationally prominent Catholic is not manifestly gravely sinful. Is that a lesson ecclesiastical law really wants me to glean?

Mark Brumley

An emailer, who elected not to post here, asks why I chose to sum up Kennedy's life in terms of his abortion rights stance.

Well, I didn't.

It was not my purpose to "sum up" Mr. Kennedy's life in terms of his support for abortion rights or anything else. I was addressing the issue of whether his deathbed activities that I read about could meaningfully be described as signs of repentance for his proabortion rights stance. It does not seem to me that they can be, because they seem to be the same activities he engaged in when he vocally maintained his proabortion rights position.

Marc James Ayers

Erenn-

I could not agree more. As a recent Catholic convert myself (from a hardcore Presbyterian background), I can attest that this is the hardest thing to try to explain to my Protestant brothers and sisters, many of whom see the fundamental eccesiological and epistemological problems with Protestantism and are interested in the Church. What draws them is the weight, majesty and historicity of the Church; the sense that the Church stands for a Truth that is knowable, definable and defensible with certainty and authority. The dissenting crowd calls that "medievalism," but it is precisely what people need and want in this soul-deadening postmodern age. As I did, many of my Protestant friends want authority; they do not want to be "on an island with what I guess is the Holy Spirit" anymore (which was never what God intended the Christian life to look like). But then they see things like this (and what is allowed to go on at "Catholic" colleges, etc.) and the air somewhat justifiably goes right out of them. It is so sad. I can only dream about how many serious-minded believers would come into the Church if many of the leaders in Church would realize who they are and exercise their God-given authority. I know these believers, they are ready to come in. But if we do not really believe that we are the Body of Christ on Earth - the real "Pillar and Bulwark of the Truth" - then why would they come in? In the end, we look like the Anglican Communion, which is dying the slow death of its own ambiguity.

Ed Peters

Folks seem to get that what's at issue here is SIGNS of repentance, and not (unjudgable) repentence itself, so good.

Re MB's good question, an analogy from Confession might help (or not): if one confesses the same sin over and over, each time, the confession is presumed sincere, and absolution given. The advice might vary each time, but the basic self-accusation is presumed sincere.

Even more so, on one's death bed, canon law presumes any ONE sign of repentence is sincere and sufficient (and actually, Teddy gave several), and allows a funeral.

As for the state of his soul, God alone knows of course. And a funeral impacts THAT much more important question not a scintilla.

Stephen Sparrow

Yes Mark, it's not a good look no matter which way it's examined. See Luke 17:1 or Matthew 18:7 - take your pick.

Mark Brumley

Even more so, on one's death bed, canon law presumes any ONE sign of repentence is sincere and sufficient (and actually, Teddy gave several), and allows a funeral.

Question: One sign of repentance for what?

In my example, I refer to a man who repeatedly does things such as receiving communion, praying, talking with priests, etc., all the while maintaining that certain actions the Church has told him are gravely sinful are not sinful and engaging in those acts publicly and maintaining publicly that those acts are not sinful. In the example, we simply cannot know from what he has said and done before he was dying that these actions engaged in when he is dying now are to be taken as signs of repentance from the sins he previously declared were not sins and which he declared compatible with receiving communion, leading prayers, talking with priests, etc.

I don't get the Confession comparison. If anything, it works against the position it is invoked to defend. A man who regularly confesses the same sins and shows the same indications of repentance each time can reasonably be presumed to have, in the act of confession, the same attitude he had in the past when he confessed. Similarly, when a man has the attitude or appears to have the attitude that what the Church tells him is manifest sin is not manifest sin and he says that his action is compatible with receiving communion, leading prayers, and talking to priests, then it is reasonable to suppose, in the absence of any counter indication, that when he does these things on his deathbed he still regards or acts as if he regards his manifest sin as not sin and as an act compatible with receiving communion, etc. In other words, we have no indication, because we have no change of behavior, that his attitude toward his manifest sin has changed. In short, we have no sign of repentance.

I certainly grant that canonists say and canon law may intend us to accept that someone who on his deathbed receives communion, leads prayers, and talks with priests, does things we must count as "signs of repentance" for the purpose of permitting this man who was at least at one point a manifest sinner to have a church funeral . However, I'll need someone to address the epistemological point of grounds for thinking the man repentant, before I will think there are reasonable grounds for regarding the man as repentant.

Of course my example may not be applicable to the Kennedy case. I hope it isn't. I hope Senator Kennedy gave epistemologically solid grounds for thinking he was repentant for his proabortion stance. If he has, I haven't seen the evidence. If he hasn't, I'll pray for him all the same and hope he was repentant.

Since Mr. Kennedy was such an icon for proabortion rights Catholicism and the claim that one could be proabortion rights and a good Catholic, and since his Catholic funeral was widely broadcast and discussed, and since may people will likely infer that his position on abortion can't be too bad otherwise the Church would never have had such a high profile public funeral, perhaps it should be explained widely and loudly by the Archdiocese of Boston what, exactly, it regards as the signs of Mr. Kennedy's repentance and what, exactly, he gave signs of having repented of.

Ed Peters

"I certainly grant that canonists say and canon law may intend us to accept that someone who on his deathbed receives communion, leads prayers, and talks with priests, does things we must count as "signs of repentance" for the purpose of permitting this man who was at least at one point a manifest sinner to have a church funeral . However, I'll need someone to address the epistemological point of grounds for thinking the man repentant, before I will think there are reasonable grounds for regarding the man as repentant."

The theolgians want to ask whether Teddy was repentant. The canonists ask, as directed by the Legislator, whether he gave a sign of repentance. The questions are distinct. See my Angelicum article.

Commentaries are issued by canon number, and it's not to see the (as far as I've found) unanimous jurisprudence here.

I still like my confession analogy (and it is distinguishable from the other practices MB lists precisely becuase it deals with repentence, as opposed to some form of self-justification), but I'm not inclined to press the point for those unpersuaded by it.

As far the AOB's handling of the funeral itself, I've offered no defense of it. To the contrary.

Mrs O

This is interesting. It would seem to me, that if he were considered a grave sinner publically, something would have been done on the part of the priest/Bishop LONG time ago. As far as we know, he was acting in accordance with the way he was taught by priest (who were wrong by saying/teaching it was OK to vote for abortion, etc). Nothing happened to those priests, right? Why should something be necessary for him, publically that is? I know what he did was very sinful but if his Bishop didn't do anything, publically, then why should he have repented publically?

Mrs O

IF his Bishop never enforced or used what was available (canon law) to 1)help him by not compounding sin on sin 2) from further hurting us, creating scandal, by his actions, then doesn't the responsibility lie on the Bishop's head, not that Ted Kennedy showed some sort of repentance?
I must be missing something.

Dan Deeny

You folks are learned scholars, far over my head, but you are getting bogged down, to my way of thinking, in details. Catholics who are public officials like Sens. Dodd, Durbin, Kennedy, etc., and who are involved in the abortion business, need to undergo a sort of mini-Canossa. You remember Pope Gregory VII and Emperor Henry IV? Sen. Kennedy himself said that this was a problem for the bishops.
Pope Gregory VII was interesting. Look him up in Wikipedia. Of course our problem would be handled on the bishop's level.

Mark Brumley

Ed,

Just about the time I think we agree, I see something and conclude we don't. You write:

The theologians want to ask whether Teddy was repentant. The canonists ask, as directed by the Legislator, whether he gave a sign of repentance. The questions are distinct. See my Angelicum article .

I certainly agree the sign of a thing is distinct from the thing. In the case I outline above, I don't think we can see even the sign of the thing (repentance). We have certain activities that canonists use as if the activities were signs of the thing when in fact they are indistinguishable, in the case I outline above, from non-signs of the thing. If a set of activities is completely consistent with being a sign of X and at the same time completely consistent with being a sign of non-X, then I say those activities are not really a sign of X, even if we decide, for whatever reason, to pretend they are. Those activities tell us nothing about whether X is present.

I think we agree that the present legislation takes the activities described above as "signs of repentance" and therefore as permitting a church funeral for the man in the example I gave. Where we at least seem to disagree is over whether the death bed activities, under the circumstances I describe, really are "signs of repentance", rather than merely taken as such signs for the purposes of getting the man a church funeral.

I take that from your comment: The theolgians want to ask whether Teddy was repentant. The canonists ask, as directed by the Legislator, whether he gave a sign of repentance. The questions are distinct. See my Angelicum article.

It seems as if you understand the canonist to be looking for a real sign of the same thing the theologian wants to know about. It seems as if you mean that the canonist is looking for an indicator (even if not a definitive one) of the thing the theologian is concerned with. And it seems to me that in the example I gave the canonist can have no such thing.

I contend that he cannot have an indicator of repentance because the activities taken as "signs of repentance" are just as consistent with non-repentance as with repentance, since they were activities engaged in by the man in my example before going to his death bed and while contending that those activities were consistent with his manifest grave sin. Unless we have reason to believe--a sign or signs--that he has changed his mind about those activities being consistent with his manifest grave sin, then, by golly, we have no indication--no sign--he has changed his mind, no sign he has repented of his manifest sin, even if we choose for the purposes of allowing him a church funeral to call his death bed activities "signs of repentance".

Do you agree?

1. It is one thing to say that the man in my example engaged in certain activities on his death bed and we choose to give him a church burial because he did those things, even though those things tell us nothing about whether the man has repented.

2. It is another thing to say that those activities are indications of his having repented of a sin, even though we can't know for sure that he actually repented.

3. It is yet a third thing to say that the man was indeed repentant.

It seems to me that at least in the example I outlined, we're dealing with 1, not 2. Unless the man gives indication he no longer thinks his manifest sin compatible with receiving communion, leading prayers, talking to priests, etc., his engagement in those activities is no indication of repentance from his manifest sin. In his case things that ordinarily might be taken as "signs of repentance", in the sense of indicators of possible repentance, tell us nothing because the manner in which he was a manifest sinner.

So long as the canonists don't want to insist that in the case above the man's death bed activities tell us anything at all about whether he was repentant, I suppose we can leave the matter where it is. I'll still think the law ineffectual in the case I outline insofar as one purpose of the canon seems to be to avoid giving scandal by granting a church funeral to a someone who has given no indication of repentance from his manifest sin. We have in the case I outline no such indication.

Mark Brumley

Mrs. O, whether Mr. Kennedy was blameworthy for the position he took is another question. However, there were plenty of public indications to Mr. Kennedy that his position was not in accord with the teaching of the Catholic Church and that the stance he took was objectively gravely sinful, according to that teaching. We cannot reasonably say that he never heard anyone in the Church, with the authority to state the Church's teaching, indicate the nature of the problem with his position. He may well have been told other things by priest friends or theologians. He may have sincerely believed them or he may have decided to believe them for personal and political convenience. What he (subjectively) determined in his conscience to be the truth of the matter is something only God can know. It's not the main factor, though, in the discussion here.

Mark Brumley

You folks are learned scholars, far over my head, but you are getting bogged down, to my way of thinking, in details. Catholics who are public officials like Sens. Dodd, Durbin, Kennedy, etc., and who are involved in the abortion business, need to undergo a sort of mini-Canossa.

I appreciate that some folks may not be interested in the finer points of the topic of this post. Still, I think most of us commenting here on those points would agree regarding the need for public conversion.

Mrs O

Mr. Brumley, nothing was ever formally done to correct him in a public way though. I agree that what he did was a serious sin or at least constituted it, but in order for him to have to repent in public, doesn't his Bishop have to be involved too? And I stress HAVE TO. Such as, if I were in error and my Bishop corrected me, and this had something to do with a public matter, then I would correct myself in a public way, public apology. And if I didn't, it would seem to me that I would be asking for a heavier penalty.
Why would he have to do that if his Bishop wasn't bothered?
It seems that ideals (canons) meet reality and I wonder if there will be some policies put in place by the Bishop's conference for those Bishop's who do not do what is right.

It is reminding me of the sex abuse scandal. There are canons that could have been enforced, but weren't.

Ed Peters

Hi MB. Alas, for lack of time. But,

If you want to argue that K's past engaging in religious practices such as going to Mass and reciting public prayers are NOT signs of K's repentance becuz he engaged in them so often in the past with no obvious fruits of repentance, I think your position is defensible in, what should I call it?, pastoral life. Such a position is not defensible, however, in the canon law regarding the very narrow question of granting one eccl. funeral rites, for all the reasons I've set out elsewhere and I see you grant. The most you could do is say, Well, canon law should change it's views re funerals in a case such as TK's. Fine, that's for another day.

But, in regard to the specific religious practice of going to Confession, you seem to say that it cannot be accepted as sign of repentence (at least for TK, even for the narrow point of ecccl. funeral)) cuz he did so often without changing his behavior. If that is your position, there are several problems:

1. we don't know how often TK went to CONFESSION, so it might have been a change for him in his last days; more importantly,

2. Confession is always, absent a strong showing of dissimulation, a sign of repentence (c. 980), and we get to tell God we are sorry in Confession 70 x 7 times, and He let's us start over, even minutes before we die;

3. the presumption that Confession is indeed the pre-eminent sign of repentance is even stronger when one confesses facing certain death, this, per human experience.

ok? cheers, edp.

Mark Brumley

If you want to argue that K's past engaging in religious practices such as going to Mass and reciting public prayers are NOT signs of K's repentance becuz he engaged in them so often in the past with no obvious fruits of repentance, I think your position is defensible in, what should I call it?, pastoral life.

Someone might want to argue that. But I didn't. I didn't say anything about fruits or stuff like that.

My argument is that if someone--Sen. Kennedy or someone else--says and acts as if his proabort stance and pro-same-sex marriage stance are compatible with receiving communion, leading prayers, etc., then when on his death bed he receives communion, leads prayers, etc., I cannot know from those activities that he has repented of his pro-abort and pro-gay marriage stances; I have no grounds for thinking he does not still think his proabort stance and pro-same-sex marriage stance are compatible with Catholicism and ok.

Such a position is not defensible, however, in the canon law regarding the very narrow question of granting one eccl. funeral rites, for all the reasons I've set out elsewhere and I see you grant. The most you could do is say, Well, canon law should change it's views re funerals in a case such as TK's. Fine, that's for another day.

As you suggest, I grant that's the way the canon is understood. That's not the most I can say but it is something I do say. I say the present view of the matter doesn't achieve one of the goals it sets out to achieve--avoiding scandal--because in the case I describe it doesn't let us have any way to see signs of repentance.

But, in regard to the specific religious practice of going to Confession, you seem to say that it cannot be accepted as sign of repentence (at least for TK, even for the narrow point of ecccl. funeral)) cuz he did so often without changing his behavior.

I'm not sure on what grounds you see this as my position. I didn't bring up going to confession and my only reference to it was in response to your statement about it. I have read no reports that Sen. Kennedy went to confession. I hope he did and that he repented of his proabort stance. But in any event, the points you mention don't seem relevant to my argument. I'm not saying that if Kennedy went to confession in his pre-terminal illness life we should have seen a change in his life if he was sincere, we haven't seen a change in his life therefore he either didn't go or wasn't sincere when he went.

My point remains: if a person holds that his activities which are manifest sins are compatible with activities typical of living a Catholic life, then his engaging in activities that are typical of a Catholic life on his death bed does not signify or suggest that he has repented of his manifest sins. He may have. Or he may still think or claim to think that his manifest sins are compatible with a Catholic life, as he did prior to taking to his death bed. We can't tell, unless he tells us, or unless someone else who has grounds for knowing tells us, that he has repented of his manifest sins and therefore he no longer regards his religious activities as compatible with his former manifest sins.

That being the case allowing such a man in such a situation to have a church funeral does not avoid the danger of scandal, which is presumably what the caveat about the "signs of repentance" was about. We can't avoid the scandal because we can't tell whether the man still thinks engaging in his religuous activities compatible with his manifest sin. If he does, then he has not repented of them. Since we have no external evidence that his outlook has changed, because there is no change in his behavior--he still does the same religious activities he did before he went on his death bed, the activities he said were compatible with his sin--we have no grounds for supposing he has repented.

Albert D. Kallal

No one any where is arguing the right of having a catholic funeral for Ted.

What is at stake here is the right to have a PUBLIC funeral with full endorsement and fan fare from the catholic church. That is the scandal here.

This funeral certainly should not have been public in nature. So Ted has all the rights to a catholic funeral like any catholic does. However, he does NOT deserve nor even have a right to a PUBLIC funeral. Without a public recanting of his long time 40+ years of public support for the murder of unborn children he should not be accorded a public funeral with full ceremonial support from the church. No more then Hitler deserves a public ceremony from the Church because he was catholic.

This public support simply creates VERY much scandal in the church.

So it is the public ceremony that causes the scandal here. That public ceremony which amounts to a public endorsement of the man is most certainly NOT a right that the church has to give to Ted.

The church has no say in the State giving Ted full honors. However the church most certainly does reserve this right of public support and endorsement for a public funeral.

In better times even the Papacy would have made this issue clear.

So a private catholic non public funeral is MOST certainly a right of Ted, but NOT a public ceremony. So, there never should have been a public mass with full endorsement and full support of that catholic church.

It this public support that creates the scandal here. In fact it makes the church look like a bunch of hypocrites.

Is the public now to assume that Teds stance on killing of unborn is ok all of a sudden?

The debate of a catholic funeral for Ted was NEVER under question. None of us can judge or know the state of his soul at time of death.

However, without a public recanting of his stance on many of his anti-catholic view then it is simply scandal for the church to lend their public endorsement to him in a public fashion as they did.

He gets his funeral, not a public one from the church.

Albert D. Kallal

fr richard

Ed,
Pardon me, but I am rather surprised that you are arguing about this particular point in canon law as it applies to the funeral in terms of whether or not Mr. Kennedy showed repentance before his death.

As you surely know (but other readers may not) this section of the law reads as follows:

Can. 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.
--------------------------

Since the doubt about whether a public Catholic funeral is proper for Kennedy is plainly clear in my eyes, Mark Brumley's eyes, and the eyes of many who posted here, as well as many Catholics in our country, still, it is obvious that the local ordinary has made a decision here.

Why is this not the basis of your opinion, rather than whether or not you, or anyone else, believes he was repentant?

While I personally think it is scandalous to grant this man a public Catholic funeral, especially with the President invited to give a speech (what a surprise!), I am not sure why you have not given any consideration here to the decision of the archbishop as regards the law.

It seems my/ or perhaps, "our" disagreement should be with HIS decision, and not over the point of law that has been put up here until now.

And, unrelated to canon law, and I think, without lacking a sense of compassion for the sake of his soul, it seems absolutely amazing that it is, as far as I can see, impossible to find a bishop in this country who will fail to honor a prominent politician or a public figure, no matter how they have lived their public lives, with a Catholic funeral with every bell and whistle...not to proclaim the Gospel, but instead to allow people to proclaim the greatness of the departed (as we see so clearly on TV), no matter how contrary to Christian truth they may have taught, voted for or lived.

While I'm NOT painting you as being of this mind, (and this is on a totally different point here) the examples of standing up to sinful political authorities as given us by St. John Chrysostom, St. Athanasius, and St. Thomas Beckett (along with many others) seem lost on us today, where some continue to tell us that even when the public actions of political figures who call themselves Catholics are in direct opposition to the teachings of Christ, our only public option is to "forgive them" as if it didn't matter at all.

I suppose this would would make us even greater and more loving than Jesus who never spoke ill of pharisaical hypocrisy, never mentioned hell fire or causing scandal to the least of these, and never suggested that anyone could be lost. Lord, have mercy.

Ed Peters

Mark, ok. Albert, you don't know what the catergories are here.

But fr richard wrote: "I am rather surprised that you are arguing about this particular point in canon law as it applies to the funeral in terms of whether or not Mr. Kennedy showed repentance before his death."

Golly, after all this, and folsk still don't see what I, and more importantly the Code and consistent interpretation, hold here?

This has be my last reiteration of the matter, which folks can agree with or not as they see fit, but: there is no doubt but that in canon law the calling of a priest to one's deathbed is one of the classic "signs of repentance" that renders licit the eccl. funeral of a grave public sinner.

Mark Brumley

Whether the law ought to be different in cases such as Senator Kennedy's is an interesting question, one I have raised at length here. But it seems clear to me that the law is what it is and has been interpreted in its traditional manner, as Ed Peters says. (It does not seem to me that the law required the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston to participate in the funeral, but that's another matter.)

At the same time, it would help if the Archdiocese of Boston would clue the country in on exactly what Senator Kennedy "repented" of when he gave his signs of repentance, so that we can avoid or minimize "public scandal". If it cannot do so, then perhaps a helpful alternative would be a statement to all indicating that the funeral, though an ecclesiastical right under the current legislation, by no means indicated that the Church sees Mr. Kennedy's positions on abortion rights, embryonic experimentation, and same-sex marriage as anything other that objectively gravely sinful and things necessary for a Catholic to repent of.

If I were a bishop I would immediately ask my canon lawyers to figure out a way not to have a Kennedy-funeral-style fiasco repeated in my diocese with other "Catholic politicians". If that would require petitoning Rome for a more precisely-attuned piece of legislation, then I would get the request off in today's mail.

Ed Peters

Nicely put Mark. Would love to see your ritu facto idea implemented.

carl Kelly

Well, the man is question is now dead and may have difficulty "manifesting" his alleged repentance. If he was unable to make arrangements prior to his death to tell those of us who are scandalized by the discrepancy between Ted's vehement support for baby-killing and his "catholic" faith, might the bishop enlighten us or the priest who was at his deathbed?

A change of heart normally would have required a stepping back from championing a heathcare bill fraught with ethical problems. Such did not appear to have been the case. One wonders whether Ted understood the logical inconsistency between his political positions and the catholic faith he, according to the letter he wrote to the pope, adhered to on fundamental teachings. Perhaps the liberal Boston Jesuits and others bear some responsibility for muddling the senator's thinking and for coddling and supporting Ted Kennedy even at the expense of the unborn.

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

Ted Kennedy by close observation loses much. He had no modesty that makes true worth. He brandished sheer hypocrisy passing himself as a good catholic.
During the whole of his political life he fought to advance marxist laws the Church opposes. He dangerously interfered the propagation of Church Doctrine by promoting abortion with acceptance and forceful political tyranny. Such type of extensive killing is cowardly cruel; John XXIII labeled it immoral and criminal.

We can doubt any intention of repentance, guided by reproof of his lifetime deception of what a catholic ought to be. Kennedy knew the terminality he was facing with a brain tumor, however he was more interested in changing the law to further his leftist agenda by securing another democrat to replace him.

Are the sources of inestability in our Church inexhaustible? The untrimmed roughness of an inveterate polarization of ideology has placed us in the greatest danger: lack of unity, lack of authoritative direction. i.e.:
There is no One Mass, but myriads of versions; Notre Dame U. invites Obama and bestows a Doctorate upon him; 10 years ago John Paul II travels to Cuba and visits Fidel Castro (!); but worse yet, Carninal Bertone, recently, visits Raul Castro to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the papal visit(!!); the present archbishop of San Francisco gives holy communion to a gay man who is dressed as a nun, with beard and heavy make-up...(!!!) etc etc etc .

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