Today, I was stopped nearly dead in my tracks when I read the headline, O’Malley defends role at Kennedy rites. For those not in the know, O'Malley is the Cardinal of Boston and he attended the funeral mass for the late Sen. Kennedy mostly as an observer, leaving the ritual service to priests who had a closer, more personal relationship with Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy family.
The "beef" which some of the more conservative constituents of the Catholic faith stems around Kennedy's unwaivering support for abortion rights. While I understand the strong feelings many Catholics have regarding this issue, I was stunned because in nearly every other important teaching of the Catholic church Senator Kennedy was a stalwart supporter...
- Opposition to the death penalty
- Support for social programs that provide food, aide and training for the poor, sick and mentally ill
- Early and ardent supporter of civil rights
It never ceases to amaze me that if a person has spent a life time of service supporting and championing causes (often unpopular) such as opposing the death penalty or creating social welfare programs as Kennedy did - the fact that he also supported abortion nullifies his good works. The hypocrisy of many if not most of these conservative Catholics is that they too pick and choose where their personal faith leads them astray from church teaching. How many of these conservative Catholics support or have been quiet in their defense of the death penalty? How many were opposed and worked to close down Guantanamo for human rights violations? The Catholic church is equally committed to those causes and as such these individuals should then by their own measure be denied communion as they clamoured for Kennedy and others who supported abortion rights. Regardless, even if these critics have lived an exemplary life and not waivered in their support for these and other programs which the church supports - perhaps they have lost their ability to realize the greatest teaching of all - love & forgiveness.
Faith is a prickly subject because it often comes from a perspective of moral superiority, which leaves me cold and continues to distance me from the church I once held so dearly and found much comfort in attending. I was pleased that Cardinal O'Malley did not remain silent and used his blog to chastise those critical of his decision even if I no longer consider myself a practicising Catholic.