Skip to comments.Excerpts of Kennedy letter to pope and response
Posted on 08/30/2009 5:31:48 AM PDT by NYer
Excerpts of the letter from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy that President Barack Obama delivered to Pope Benedict XVI earlier this year and an account of the pope's response, as read by Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington:
"Most Holy Father I asked President Obama to personally hand deliver this letter to you. As a man of deep faith himself, he understands how important my Roman Catholic faith is to me, and I am so deeply grateful to him. I hope this letter finds you in good health. I pray that you have all of God's blessings as you lead our church and inspire our world during these challenging times. I am writing with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines.
"I was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago and although I continue treatment, the disease is taking its toll on me. I am 77 years old and preparing for the next passage of life. I have been blessed to be part of a wonderful family and both of my parents, particularly my mother, kept our Catholic faith at the center of our lives. That gift of faith has sustained and nurtured and provides solace to me in the darkest hours. I know that I have been an imperfect human being, but with the help of my faith I have tried to right my path. I want you to know Your Holiness that in my nearly 50 years of elective office I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I have worked to welcome the immigrant, to fight discrimination and expand access to health care and education. I have opposed the death penalty and fought to end war.
"Those are the issues that have motivated me and have been the focus of my work as a United States senator. I also want you to know that even though I am ill, I am committed to do everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life. I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field and I will continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone. I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings of my faith. I continue to pray for God's blessings on you and on our church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me."
An account from the Vatican of the pope's response, according to McCarrick:
"The Holy Father has the letter which you entrusted to President Barack Obama, who kindly presented it to him during their recent meeting. He was saddened to know of your illness, and asked me to assure you of his concern and his spiritual closeness. He is particularly grateful for your promise of prayers for him and for the needs of our universal church.
"His Holiness prays that in the days ahead you may be sustained in faith and hope, and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God, our merciful Father. He invokes upon you the consolation and peace promised by the Risen Savior to all who share in His sufferings and trust in His promise of eternal life.
"Commending you and the members of your family to the loving intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of wisdom, comfort and strength in the Lord."
Once again, we can clearly see that demarcation line between Social Democrat Catholics and Church teachings. From what I understand, the Jesuits were instrumental in helping the Kennedy’s and Cuomos in separating faith from politics.
Didn’t Kennedy turn pro-abortion for political expediency?
Where was his moral grounding?
Medieval HOGWASH and hyprocrisy! B.S.M was what they used to sign, BESO SU MANO, I kiss your hand! If it calls him Holy Father, why doesn´t he line up with his religion and oppose taking human lives in the uterus. A separation between real convictions and real life...lived saying one thing he believed, and with his words, signs of false piety. I´m glad I woke up this am, and the news stories were clear of the evil guy Ted...
And??? What was the point of the letter? It was all about him.
He even lies to the Pope!
What does he say to defend killing literally millions of unborn souls in the mothers womb?
I will say that The Holy Father did contribute a meaningful phrase that ObamaCare is likely to pick up and that is:
the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God.
the sin of promoting abortion was not addressed......that’s a big one to leave to chance.
I am shocked by the Church’s complicity in whitewashing Kennedy and attempting to include BO in the process. If, indeed, such letters were written at all, why weren’t they kept private?
Hopefully that wasn’t all he confessed to the priest who administered the Last Rites to him - to clear the slate before death, but with the necessary sincere sorrow and repentence in order to receive forgiveness before meeting God.
This has got to be satire.
But the assertions contained in his letter are left for the living and we must set the record of his actions here on earth straight for those of us who remain on earth.
"Champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity"
Granting the poor entitlements rights which Kennedy sought to do time and again is not opening opportunity. In fact, Kennedy excoriated Robert Bork in his infamous speech on the Senate floor by falsely imputing onto Bork a desire to end those entitlements and leaving the poor Unsuccored. Kennedy's career has been one long campaign not for equality of opportunity but for equality of outcome.
"I have worked to welcome the immigrant, "
No, Senator Kennedy, did not work to welcome the immigrant, he deliberately made Western European immigrants unwelcome and deliberately made other immigrants based on racial preference more welcome. More, his welcome did not extend only to immigrants but also to illegal immigrants. Kennedy's legislative history is one of frustrating every attempt to limit illegal immigration.
"to fight discrimination"
Again Senator Kennedy worked to fight discrimination only of a certain kind. Racial discrimination against white Americans was not opposed by the senator. Moreover, discrimination against achievers and political conservatives was actually practiced by Senator Kennedy.
"expand access to health care "
Yes, he worked to expand health care to illegal immigrants. He did act to require achievers to pay for the healthcare of others.
"expand access to... education"
He sought at every turn to limit access to the kind of education he approved of which was run by educational elitists and apparatchiks with the result that America possesses the dreariest statistics of any Western industrialized nation.
"I have opposed the death penalty "
Liberals such as Senator Kennedy have succeeded in so attenuating, in time and likelihood, the punishment from the murder that much deterrent value has been washed out of capital punishment laws. How many innocent people died as a result of Senator Kennedy's activities?
"fought to end war"
How many people died in the aftermath of the Vietnam war as a result of efforts of liberals like Senator Kennedy to abandon the people of southeast Asia to the Communists who proved to be the murderers the right had predicted? The record of Senator Kennedy in this regard is not that of a pacifist in opposition to war but that of an ideologue in opposition to wars waged in America's national interest.
The reckoning for Senator Kennedy's sins has already occurred between him and his maker and it is not for us to presume on that process. But we have a duty to our children to keep the record straight here on earth.
I read that it was Drinan who first used the abominable formulation, "personally opposed, BUT . . . ."
Kennedy's death (and the dog-and-pony show) brought to mind for me a prayer in the old Sarum Missal (English, 14th century) begging for forgiveness for sins we don't know we've committed. When I read it years ago, it struck me as an odd formulation, but -- again, thinking on Kennedy -- it might be more salutary to reflect on those sins in us that might be far more obvious to others than to ourselves . . .
If I wanted to be snarky, I might add that self-righteousness is one that a lot of people might want to consider. (Yes, I am aware that that's the rhetorical device of preterition -- to mention something by saying you won't mention it.) Granted, some people make self-righteousness easier than others, but I don't think that counts as an excuse.
Not for a second!
Kennedy’s letter is pathetic. It’s about as sincere as his Chappaquiddick speech.
As for the “Pope’s” response: The pro-abortion pansy McCarrick is as big a liar as Kennedy ever was. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be a complete fabrication. McCarrick returned from Rome in 2004 with a letter from Ratzinger (about Communion for pro-aborts) that he had been asked to distribute to all the U.S. bishops. He concealed its existence, instead, and lied about what Ratzinger had said.
And it wasn't a personal reply even. It reads like something from an assistant.
Strangely absent from his litany of good works during his almost 50 years in Conngress was Teddy’s unwavering support for abortion rights. Also I note no remorse for any past sins. Perhaps when Teddy met his judgment Mary Jo Kopekne was there to greet him.
You write as though results are important, not just intentions.
You must not be an enlightened liberal!
Bottom line - to apply one wit’s line, Ted Kennedy will stand before God and say, “I’m a good man. I gave other people’s money to the poor.”
I’m guessing God will be unimpressed.
He also is a typical liberal in that he defines good deeds as political stances rather than how he treats other people...
Ted wanted to be pro-abortion and lined up people who could help him justify and vocalize his stance. IOWs, he wanted to get around the rules, like he probably did with anything that didn’t suit his convenience.
I assumed from the first that it was satire.
This interaction reminds me of the exchange in Mark, Matthew and Luke where a man was trying to gain eternal life by his deeds and Jesus corrects him and tells him the way to eternal life is to follow Jesus.
Ted Kennedy puts all of his life works at the feet of the pope and implicit in his letter is the same question “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?”. The pope’s gentle answer is to point to the savior, Jesus Christ.
The Rich Young Man
16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17”Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
18”Which ones?” the man inquired.
Jesus replied, “ ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother,’[a] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”
20”All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Behind closed doors in the papal library, Obama handed Benedict a letter that Senator Edward Kennedy had asked him to personally deliver to the pontiff. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs later told reporters that nobody - not even the President - knew the contents of the sealed missive....The letter, most likely already re-sealed and tucked away in the Vatican archives, was probably just a dying Catholic's request for a papal blessing. In the eyes of the traditionalist wing of the Church, however, Kennedy should have been asking the Pope for forgiveness....
-- After Kennedy's Death: Silence from the Pope
Fascinating! I have never heard of the Sarum Missal. Just returned from Mass. In the Maronite Divine Liturgy, the Intercessions are given after the Invocation of the Holy Spirit (Epiclesis) with the consecrated species on the altar. Immediately following the list of intercessions, the celebrant offers up this prayer:
Remember, O Lord, the faithful departed. Accept this offering on their behalf. They put their hope in Your mercy and compassion and await Your graces. Grant them rest in the bosom of Abraham and call them to be guests in Your kingdom. Grant also to us a peaceful death and blot out our offenses, for no one on earth is without sin except Your only-begotten Son, through whom we hope, along with them, to receive pardon for our sins.
And we pray to You, O Lord.
To which the congregation responds:
Grant them rest, O lord, and forgive all our sins and failings: Those sins we have committed knowingly and those things we have done without knowledge.
The liturgy is ancient ... some of the prayers date back to the 4th century. Is there no equivalent of this prayer in the Novus Ordo?
As for Kennedy, what struck me most about this 10 page letter is that 1) he was able to submit it to the pope via "his" president, a privilege not available to any one of us. He used his "connections". And 2) his purpose in writing it seems to be an acknowledgement of his failings. He speaks of following his Catholic faith in matters of social concern, none of which benefit the slaughtered innocents. It's a twisted logic that has permeated nearly half the Catholic populace, not only here but in other parts of the world as well.
Faced with imminent death, would it ever occur to you to write the pope? It's as if he were trying to justify his actions before God, hoping the pope will 'intercede' on his behalf. Perhaps he was hoping that the pope would condone his work so he could then absolve himself before God, pointing the finger at the pope. Or am I reading too much into this?
Re Kennedy's letter (though I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't write it himself, or at least without a great deal of input from Pelosi or someone else), it's interesting that they didn't release the whole thing, just excerpts. Probably just another attempt -- like Pelosi's failed stab at getting a good photo op with the Pope -- to get the Pope to say something (utterly ludicrous) like, "Oh, you liberals do so much good, surely God will overlook that you facilitated the murder of 40,000,000 human beings." So it didn't work again.
It’s funny how nobody even blinks at the audacity and privilege this represents.
There are millions of Catholics, and many are on death’s door. None of them would ever expect they could get an envoy to take a letter for them to the Pope, much less get an answer.
But Kennedy, since he has money and, well, he’s Kennedy, just assumes that he deserves a personal appeal to the Pope.
And Obama, who would no doubt frown upon being asked to take a letter from a “common folk” had no problem serving as a postal worker for Kennedy.
(Mark Steyn inspired a new tagline for me)
Ted Kennedy went a different route. He got kitted out with a neck brace and went on TV and announced the invention of the Kennedy curse, a concept that yoked him to his murdered brothers as a fellow victim and not, as Mary Jo perhaps realized in those final hours, the perpetrator. He dared us to call his bluff, and, when we didnt, he made all of us complicit in what hed done. We are all prey to human frailty, but few of us get to inflict ours on an entire nation
The senators actions in the hours and days after emerging from that pond tell us something ugly about Kennedy the man. That he got away with it tells us something ugly about American public life.
IMHO, a dying person who sends such a letter probably is not yet at peace, needs assurance of Who Christ IS or perhaps what he must do to prepare for his own graduation into the next life. Something like this maybe:
As you prepare for the next step in your journey as a Christian, I urge you to contemplate the meaning of this, that in every moment in everything you did in this life, in everything you said and in everything you thought Christ was always there as He will always be there in your next life. Nothing is hidden from Him.
If that truth shames you, troubles you or causes resentment, then I urge you to deal with it in the here and now; pour it out to Him in prayer and/or counsel with your local priest, pastor, spouse or friend. Dont put it off, for we all must prepare to see ourselves as we truly are and only He knows.
The Pope’s response to Kennedy is thought provoking.
1. It is not written by the Pope, but is instead written by an underling.
2. It is a form letter. You can imagine zillions of these things going out with the addressee being the only change.
If a parishoner empties their heart to me in a letter, and I get someone else to reply, that is an effort to get some degree of separation from that person.
If my response is “Dear ________(fill in blank), So sorry. Pastor’s sorry for you. Get Better. Signed (electronically) The Pastor’s Main Man.
The Pope dissed Teddy.
The parts of the letters released are excerpts. There may have been other parts in which the Pope took him to task for his very public flouting of Church doctrine. And, for that matter, they may have left out the portions Kennedy may have written acknowledging that his stance on abortion was wrong.
Since the Pope signed off with a blessing, I’m wondering if Kennedy did ask forgiveness for that very obvious way he “fell short.”
I am inclined to believe that there were more personal portions of both letters which have not been published and it would be highly inappropriate for the Church to release such portions.
We do not know if Kennedy confessed ALL of his sins and repented before his death, but I sincerely hope that he did. However, I also hope that his confessor DOES NOT break the confessional seal simply to satisfy our curiosity. I do know that Eunice and Sargent Shriver had worked over the years to get Kennedy to renounce his pro-death position and it is possible that as he was dying he took his late sister’s wishes to heart.
The Vatican has been VERY deliberate and circumspect in their dealings with Obama and I am confident that there have been messages to Obama and possibly Kennedy that we know nothing about.
You call out McCarrick for what he is, a pansy, a promoter of a false Catholicism. He is a disgrace. V’s wife.
As I said before, my disappointment applies if that was the extent of the reply Kennedy received. IMHO, a person writes that kind of letter (based on the excerpt) when he is not yet at peace.
As these are being described as excerpts, the only logical conclusion is that the most personal portions of both letters have not been published.
I'm not sure that means excerpt.
His Holiness prays that in the days ahead you may be sustained in faith and hope, and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God, our merciful Father.
And indeed, that phrase packs a lot of meaning. Perhaps that is all the Pope cared to say to the man, i.e. if he can't figure it out, tough luck.
Would the Church be that dismissive with any man?
If someone close to you, someone you loved dearly, was dying, sought you out with a list of his accomplishments in this life - what would you say?
What a scam. He pulled the Pope’s pants down with this one. No chance the Pope would eulogize this dirtball, so they send a private letter and then have some stooge priest read parts of the reply. Geez. You’d think the Vatican could have figured that one out.
My take is that Kennedy wanted to be given assurance and instead was told that he need to surrender to the will of God and NOBODY, in the private meditations of their heart, can conclude that God's will is to take innocent life.
I do think that the actual letter to Kennedy was more personal and direct.
If Ted Kennedy confessed ALL of his sins and asked for forgiveness merely because he knew he was hours from death, his confession and request would be as phony as his taking of communion when he knew damned well he was working day and night to destroy the Catholic faith and to ensure that as many babies as possible went to their graves before they had a chance to take their first breath.
IMHO if Ted Kennedy decided to make a confession on his death bed, that confession fell on deaf ears because it was not a conversion of the heart, but a conversion of the lips.
If he were a Muslim and turned to Christ at the last second, he would most likely end up in Heaven. But Ted Kennedy claimed to be a good Catholic his whole life, yet he lived a life that only a hedonistic atheist could take pride in.
He's in God's hands now. If God is just, he is rotting in Hell. But God is merciful to the merciful. Only god knows if he is going to grant him the mercy he denied to 50 million babies; an entire generation of American children, a number matched only by the genocide of Nazi Germany and Stalinst Russia.
I agree with what you are saying. However, I do believe that it is POSSIBLE that the death of Eunice and the knowledge of her years of prayer for him could have resulted in a true conversion of the heart.
He was pro abortion to his last breath. There was no evidence, other than this letter to the Pope (which contains no acknowledgment of his debauchery) that he had any conversion to Christ. If anything he was simply trying to convince himself that he was WORTHY of heaven because he took so many dollars from people who worked and gave them to his political allies.
Ted Kennedy's legacy will be that he did for America what he did for Mary Jo Kopechne. He drove the ship of state off a bridge and then left the scene to let us drown.
"Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven"
"It profits a man nothing to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul."
I can’t bring myself to read the letters. Can you tell me if the Pope urged Kennedy to repent of his pro partial-birth activism? Thank you.
As I said, I agree with you and I am fairly certain you are right. I was simply speculating that the death of his sister (which occurred after he wrote his letter to the Pope) COULD have had a positive effect on him.