McCarrick's graveside performance reminds me of another Vatican letter, one he downplayed and concealed from the American bishops in 2004 because he disagreed with its contents. That letter too was from the pope, when he was still known as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. And it also relates to the Kennedy drama since it unequivocally stated that pro-abortion politicians, in accordance with Canon Law 915, should not present themselves for or be given Communion. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote at the time:
5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.
6. When "these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible," and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, "the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it" (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration "Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics" , nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgement on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.
Now with regard to the current papal letter, we have no way of knowing whether Cardinal McCarrick repeated his 2004 performance and concealed portions of the pope's letter. Even those parts read offer little more than a promise of prayers and encouragement to seek God's will, good advice for any Catholic facing death. Was there more?
This week has been a teachable moment. Unfortunately, those with he greatest obligation to teach the truth, have chosen instead politically correct silence and promotion of worldly respect for a man who was little more than a celebrity because of his name, his siblings, and his fortune. Despite all the nonsense about Ted Kennedy's greatness, the only "great" impact he had was in advancing the culture of death and the enemies of the Church. Cardinal O'Malley could have shown courage in gentleness by calling for a private family funeral. Perhaps the dynasty would have rebelled at such a humble display and gone elsewhere. Many of them are elsewhere already in rebellion against the faith. Maria Shriver made it clear a few months ago that she's a cafeteria Catholic and, in fact, appears to revel in the label. Claiming to be "Catholics in good standing" while opposing key doctrines of the Church seems to be a Kennedy dogma.
In view of the fact that those with authority to teach are failing to do it, the laity must once again, speak the truth. It is charitable to do so. Hell is forever and those who think God is captive to their opinion of themselves need to read the parable of the pharisee and the publican (Luke 18:9-14). Kennedy's letter to Pope Benedict sounded very much like the pharisee patting himself on the back for all his good works. But, Jesus tells us, it was the repentant publican who went home from the temple justified. Cardinal O'Malley lost a golden opportunity to teach his flock about the importance of repentance and final perseverance. Instead, he fostered the belief, common among most people these days, that no matter what we do here on earth our sugar daddy in the sky will welcome us to Candyland on the last day. That fairy tale could not be further from the truth.
Teddy, We Knew Ye Well
Human Life International's Statement on the Passing of Senator Edward Kennedy