Kennedy, Confessions, Comments, and Christians

September 2, 2009

cmocb-by George Vogt

Opinion (MetroCatholic) - Many Catholic figures whom I have much respect for have been clamoring about the “scandal” caused by Ted Kennedy’s Mass of Christian Burial.

I am not delusional about the terrible misrepresentation of the Catholic Faith and the obvious scandalous actions of Kennedy. We should definitely use the opportunity to shed further light on the plight of the unborn. We should use the opportunity to present the differences in Kennedy’s actions compared with the teachings of the Church.

We should absolutely use the opportunity to point out that there is NO place for a eulogy at a Mass for Christian Burial and, building on that, teach the beauty of the funeral Mass and the joy of dying Catholic, etc.

However, one should not say that he or she is not judging the final state of Kennedy’s soul and then say that he should be denied a Catholic funeral. Those are matters for his Bishop and priest (who was with him daily for weeks) to decide.

Nor should one state as a matter of fact that his funeral was a scandal.

Many have quoted Canon Law 1184

 ”manifest sinners … cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful.”

 Two things about this Canon are important. First, it also states

“unless they gave some signs of repentance before death.”

 Second, it places the full and complete burden of the decision in this matter with the Bishop.

“If any doubt occurs, the local ordinary is to be consulted, and his judgment must be followed.”

 ”Must be followed.”

Please notice that it does not say “unless they gave some PUBLIC signs of repentance before death.”

Whether the qualifications were met in this case, we do not know. I do believe that we would be well to assume as much. Regardless, this is now a matter between the Bishop and God.

“Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God.” (James 1: 19,20)


4 Responses to “Kennedy, Confessions, Comments, and Christians”

  1. Chad Simpson on September 2nd, 2009 8:33 am

    I agree 100% with everything that you are saying BUT in a communication recently released by Fr. Thomas Euteneuer of Human Life International he stated:

    “If we do not remind ourselves of the necessity of public confession for public sins such as Senator Kennedy was guilty of, then we are negligent in our embrace of the Faith and we are part of the problem.”

    So obviously his interpretation is that a public sin requires a public confession (or at least public repentance).

  2. Benedict Okoagbor on September 2nd, 2009 9:18 am

    My fellow brethren, none of us should judge anybody because nobody is perfect hence, lets leave senator Kennedy for God to judge.


  3. George Vogt on September 2nd, 2009 11:50 am

    Then I am part of the problem, and I say that very sarcastically.

    It is not WE who determine the need for public confessions, it is the priest hearing the confession or in most cases, the “local ordinary”, the bishop responsible for the pastoral care of his flock.

    Fr. Euteneuer, in the same release stated, “Obama’s scheduled eulogy at the event amounts to a “perfect absolution” whitewashing Kennedy’s opposition to Catholic moral teaching.”

    WHAT!!!!!!!??????? NONSENSE!!! Obama has ZERO Catholic authority and, contrary to the belief of many these days, he is NOT God, so I consider the “perfect absolution” comment and many others from this statement to be “off-the-cuff” and not well thought out.

    God bless Father for his service to God, and I in no way intend my comments to be interpreted as disrespectful to him or to the Office of the Priesthood in general, but rather these particular comments.

    The biggest problem I have with this WHOLE issue is that instead of using the moment to teach the beauty of our Faith and the TRUTH of the issues, most are criticizing Bishops and Cardinals and screaming “scandal”. Missed opportunities!

    Do these same people think that are REALLY attracting others to the Faith with such righteous rhetoric?

    “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” - Jesus; of whom “Christians” get their name.

    See you this weekend.

  4. Roger Hood on September 2nd, 2009 11:17 pm

    I feel I should weigh in with a portion of my post to the Knights of Columbus group on LinkedIn, concerning the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, his funeral, and subsequent thoughts.

    As faithful Catholics, we must allow for the possibility of repentance, acknowledge that we all sin and may not be in a position to judge others (John 8:7), and that God may grant salvation to sinners in ways that seem unfair and unequal to us (Matthew 20:1-16). That is not to say that we should not rebuke sinners and their sinful actions (Proverbs 31:9, Isaiah 58:1). In doing so we must not fall prey to self-righteousness or hypocrisy.

    Nor should be ignore or minimize the good done by a man or woman, who in other respects did or allowed evil. When we do that, we cooperate with Satan - who delights anytime a Christian’s good works are undone by the Christian’s own sins.

    If that is the measure, we should all despair. Would we, as Knights of Columbus and also sinners, want all of our good works to be scoffed and ignored because of our own sinfulness? We should not impose on others a burden we ourselves could never bear.

    It is difficult for us Pro-Life Catholics to acknowledge that some of what Senator Kennedy (and others like him) advocated and accomplished was, in fact, consistent with Catholic doctrines. Yet, when he fought for the poor, the handicapped, the victims of prejudice, for organized labor, against war, and in other ways, he echoed the Papal documents setting forth Catholic Social Justice doctrine over the last century.

    It is tragic that he, and many like him, fail to understand that abortion is the preeminent human rights issue of our day.

    I hope that in the near future we will look back at this sad history, with much the same perspective we now view the widespread embrace of slavery through much of the 250 years preceding the Civil War. I pray that we will see the legal de-humanization of human beings prior to birth as being little different from the legal de-humanization of slaves preceding the enactment in 1865 of the 13th, 14th & 15th Amendments to the Constitution.

    Nevertheless, we Catholics must not rush to discard all Senator Kennedy accomplished just because he was wrong on abortion. Likewise, where President Obama’s goals are consistent with Catholic doctrine on Social Justice, we should support them.

    We should not hesitate to oppose him and his administration when they are wrong - as with abortion.

    In short, we must not fall prey to the myth that if “they” are wrong on abortion, then all their ideas and plans are evil and unworthy of our support.

    We must be smarter and more discerning than that. It is difficult, but consistent with our Catholic heritage and doctrine.

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