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An Incomprehensible Letter Exchange

Lyle J. Arnold, Jr.

On Friday, July 10, 2009, President Barack Obama hand-delivered a letter from Senator Edward Kennedy to the Pope. Less than two months later, the letter was read aloud at Kennedy’s burial at Arlington Cemetery.

It is part life summary and part confessional. Here is the text. By way of a Vatican official, Pope Benedict XVI replied to Kennedy. Kennedy began his letter by stating that since Obama is "a man of deep faith himself (sic), he understands how important my Roman Catholic faith is to me..." In Benedict's reply, which was in the third person, Kennedy is given the Apostolic Blessing.

Pope Benedict XVI & Obama

Obama delivered Kennedy's letter to Benedict
A traditional Catholic is left in complete bewilderment after reading this letter exchange. In a nutshell, Kennedy's letter expresses all the good he has done for mankind in the Senate and affirms that he has "never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings (of the Church)." Then, honest Ted adds words to the effect that in spite of all his goodness, he is no saint.

In his short letter about himself, he uses the personal pronoun "I" no less than 24 times. It would be hard to find a better comment on his self-focus, than the words of author Suzannah Lessard, who accused Kennedy of "a kind of narcissistic intemperance, a huge babyish ego that must be constantly fed." (1)

Given the Pope's universal mandate to discipline errant Catholics, Benedict's reply could almost be described as official prattle. He thanks Kennedy for his "prayers for him and for the needs of the Universal Church,” and invokes for him “the consolation of peace."

Considering the endless entourage of unbelievers that have been received at the Vatican by the conciliar Popes, it is no surprise that Obama, who is an arch-enemy of Catholicism, was received with honors. But to write a letter of anemic twaddle to Kennedy without one word of censure for his public anti-Catholic life, or to urge him to make a good confession, is beyond comprehension.

Commenting on the mission of the Pope, St. Robert Bellarmine wrote that the Pontiff must always teach the truth – this includes the obligation to advise heretics and sinners of their guilt. Indeed, every Catholic has this obligation.

An apropos story: St. Leutfridus, a 7th-century founder of Holy Cross Abbey in France, forbade the burial on sacred ground of a monk who died having coins in his possession (violating his rule of poverty). (2) This reflects the proper attitude of a Catholic fulfilling his obligation of acting charitably and making the sinner aware of his guilt.

It is not possible that Benedict was ignorant of Kennedy's pathetically anti-Catholic personal behavior throughout his long public career. Everyone knows that the Vatican has the most efficient intelligence operation in the world. The Pope knows who and what Obama is, and who and what Senator Edward Kennedy was.

Senator Ted Kennedy

To the end a rabid defender of abortion
Kennedy was expelled from Harvard for cheating on a test. He was publicly denounced from the pulpit for voting in favor of Roe v. Wade. He believed firmly in the separation of religion and politics. He was in favor of women priests. His acts against the Fifth Commandment (Thou shall not kill) are a public scandal.' His womanizing and drinking were notorious since he made little effort to conceal such behavior.

To the end, Kennedy was a politician, making a public relations show instead of a sincere, private and personal confession to his parish priest. Why a letter to the Pope? Why make it public? He did not make a public confession of the negligent homicide he committed. Nor did he publicly ask for forgiveness for the millions of abortions that he aided and abetted in complete contradiction to Church teachings.

Now, it is in God's hands, but that doesn't abdicate our responsibility as Catholics to speak out against such actions and behaviors – especially when he is being glorified by Church officials and the media.

“The senator doth protest too much”

Kennedy's rabidly anti-Catholic voting record could not possibly be conceived as doing God's will. Adding to this fiction is Pope Benedict's bland reply. His obligation as head of the Catholic Church was to inform Kennedy that his voting record constituted a long string of mortal sins, but he disregarded this duty.

Kennedy's letter of self-praise brings to mind a line in Shakespeare's Hamlet, where Hamlet's mother Gertrude makes the curious statement, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Her words aim to defend herself for her hasty marriage to her dead husband's brother.

The principal meaning of "protest" in Shakespeare's day was "vow" or "declare solemnly," a meaning preserved in our use of "protestation." What Gertrude is saying is that the Queen affirms so much as to lose credibility. Put in another way, she says, "Don't showcase your innocence so much, it's not convincing."

The same might be said of the letter of Kennedy to the Pope.

As if this letter exchange burlesque is not enough, however, we have the spectacle of the progressivist New Church praising the Senator at his funeral.

None less than Cardinal Sean O'Malley presided over Kennedy's funeral Mass vested in white. Celebrant Fr. Monan effectually placed the errant Ted in Heaven. At the Mass President Barack Obama , a radical pro-abortion advocate, was allowed to deliver an eulogy of Kennedy, reminding everyone present that Kennedy was the `liberal lion of the Senate,' in other words, a pro-gay, pro-abortion `Catholic' politician.

In view of this scenario, the Greek myth of Procrustes leaps to mind. He was a giant of Attica who seized travelers, tied them to a bedstead, and either stretched them or cut off their legs to make them fit it. Facing this progressivist attempt to paint Senator Kennedy as a man of virtue, the only logical conclusion is that we witnessed a Procrustean effort, which further blackens the name Catholic. Truly the Desire to Destroy the Church is moving ahead at full speed.

1. "Kennedy's Woman Problem, Woman's Kennedy Problem,"Washington Monthly,
2. Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira, St. Leutfridus, June 21, posted on TIA’s Saint of the Day.

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Posted October 12, 2009

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