Blog Post

Kennedy Funeral May Have Caused Some to Sin, Bishop Says

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer In his most recent column, Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin explains why some Catholics may have sinned in their reaction to the funeral of Sen. Edward Kennedy. According to a report by the Catholic News Agency, (CNA), Bishop Morlino noted that there was a definite “disconnect” in Sen. Kennedy’s life. On one hand, the late Senator devoted himself to working for the poor and downtrodden. But on the other, he led the charge “against the pro-life cause relative to the abortion of our tiniest brothers and sisters, embryonic stem-cell research, same-sex marriage, and so on,” the bishop writes. This sort of moral equivocation presents Catholics in the U.S. with a challenge to “bridge that disconnect and pull that whole seamless garment of the defense of life together, rather than rending that garment in twain and choosing one, while almost, or actually, excluding the other,” the bishop writes. “The social teaching of the Church and her pro-life stance surely are interwoven as a seamless garment.” Bishop Morlino recalled a time years ago when Senator Kennedy convened a meeting with priests and theologians to address the issue of Catholic politicians and how they voted on the abortion issue. “Sadly, that meeting simply became another occasion for the development by theologians of the 'two-conscience' approach to the faith for Catholic political leaders— that is the approach which says, 'privately I’m opposed to abortion, but in the public arena there are other conflicting responsibilities which allow me to vote in favor of legal abortion.'” “No matter how many theologians get together, the two-conscience theory is irreparably flawed and wrong, and no one can make it otherwise,” Morlino stated. However, in the last days of his life, there was a steady stream of priests around the Senator, and Bishop Morlino said that “it would be more reasonable than not to believe that he had made a good confession.” But for some Catholics, the Senator’s funeral rites became a source of scandal that may have led them into sin. For example, he cites the reactions of some Catholics and pro-life supporters who made comments such as “Senator Kennedy will now face justice, which will lead him inside the gates of Hell.” It is “sinful to enjoy the thought that someone might be in Hell,” Bishop Morlino warns. “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit worked powerfully through history so that Hell could be avoided by the proper exercise of human freedom, and to take delight in the perceived foiling of God’s plan is wrong,” he added. Any reaction that finds joy in a person's possible damnation is wrong because the Church believes and has taught from the beginning that “Jesus died precisely so that sins might be forgiven. His body was broken and His blood was shed so that sins might be forgiven, so that there might be mercy,” Morlino explained. “The death of Senator Kennedy, has called forth at least an apparent rejection of mercy on the part of not a few Catholics . . . “Without denying any misdeeds on the part of Senator Kennedy, the Church, seeking to reflect the face of Christ, proclaimed God’s mercy for the whole world to see in a subdued but unmistakable way. It was more than appropriate,” Bishop Morlino concluded. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®