By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
When President Barack Obama met with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome last Friday, he hand-delivered a personal letter to the Pope written by the ailing Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
According to the Boston Globe, neither the Vatican nor Kennedy’s office released details of the letter from the Senator, who is suffering from brain cancer.
“The president delivered a letter from Senator Kennedy to the Holy Father,’’ the deputy national security adviser, Denis McDonough, told reporters aboard Air Force One after Obama’s meeting with the Pope.
“He also asked that the Holy Father pray for Senator Kennedy, who as we all know is ill, and whose brother obviously broke an important barrier in our country by being the first Catholic president . . . of the United States.”
After meeting with the pope, Obama apparently phoned Senator Kennedy and talked with him for about 10 minutes about what was discussed during the meeting.
Speculation is rampant about the contents of the letter, particularly one written by a Senator with Kennedy’s history. Although hailing from a Catholic family, the Massachusetts Senator has openly opposed Church teaching in his professional life by his staunch support for abortion and same-sex marriage.
That he would personally correspond with the pope is not surprising to some. R. Scott Appleby, a historian at the University of Notre Dame, said, “ . . . (I)t seems clear, and it is poignant and instructive, that Senator Kennedy seeks peace and reconciliation with ‘Holy Mother Church’ as he nears the end of his earthly life.’’
However, details of the letter remain scant. Melissa Wagoner, spokeswoman for Kennedy, would only say: “It’s a personal letter. End of story.”
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