Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Saturday, August 29, 2009

Some non-canonical reflections on Kennedy's funeral

The best that can be said about Ted Kennedy's funeral is, It could have been worse.

The celebrant, who strove to avoid masculine references to God in the liturgy (his verbal substitutions plainly clashing with the voices of others sticking to the approved texts), managed to forget the Mysterium Fidei during the Eucharistic Prayer, and later asked the congregation join him "in the words Our Father taught us."

The homily, which started well enough but steadily deteriorated, fell into various holes like (I'm quoting from memory): "the fruits of [Kennedy's] work in politics well-prepared him for God's kingdom" (Lord, I hope that's not what he really meant); and "Kennedy tied his faith to justice in the land" (good grief, justice? for millions of unborn babies in the land? was that the fruit of Teddy's faith?); and "we are confident that Kennedy has entered into the new dwelling of God" (maybe you are, Father).

The kid's intercessions came out as unabashed advertisements for Democratic Party policy goals.

Mercifully, all the major networks used a single video feed, and pretty obviously somebody got to somebody ahead of time and ordered "Don't, under any circumstances, show the Communion lines!", so we were spared wincing as this famous Catholic pro-abort or that approached the Eucharist.

And finally, whodathunkit?, President Obama's eulogy, though offered in violation of liturgical law, was actually the most palatable of what turned out to be three eulogies offered in violation of liturgical law, the first, Teddy Jr.'s, being maudlin, but mostly coherent if at times inappropriately partisan, while the second, that of Rep. Pat Kennedy, was embarrassingly pathetic and even included a joke about "that damn Kennedy" from the sanctuary. Sigh.

But what, in the end, most struck me, through whole ceremony, was how oblivious all the participants seemed to be (again, with the sole exception of Obama, who at least made one veiled reference to Kennedy's "public faults", and who was the only speaker to offer a prayer for Teddy's soul), how oblivious, I say, all the participants were to Ted Kennedy's disgraceful and chronic failings to defend the natural right to life (e.g., abortion, embryonic stem cell research), his refusal to protect the natural institution of marriage lately under such attack, and his bad example on a host of other issues of importance to Catholics and to the country. While a funeral is no place to rehearse, say, a man's role in the death of a beautiful young woman, such events and conduct should have, I think, instilled some restraint in the rush to proclaim the man's accomplishments. (As for those "accomplishments", well, if one is wedded to the idea of a gigantic state, then Teddy's accomplishments were admittedly many. But if you're not enamored of statism, one might say that the damage Teddy helped inflict on the nation was great.) Instead, one speaker after another gushed on and on about Ted.

The whole experience left me less hopeful about "dialogue" on life issues (not that I was very hopeful to begin with): we are, it seems clear, talking to people who have no sense of the enormity of the crimes being committed daily against the innocent. None. None.

So, as I said, the best one can say about Ted Kennedy's Catholic funeral (
to which, yes, he had a right, in accord with law) is, it could have been worse.

I suppose.