Sunday, August 30, 2009

Like a Good Irishman, Teddy has the Last Word at His Own Funeral

When the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, Theodore Carrick, officiated the graveside service for Senator Ted Kennedy, he read the Senator's letter to the Pope, which had been delivered earlier this year by President Obama. As befitting a great Irishman, the Senator had the last word at his funeral, and his graveside message to us couldn't be more clear and unambiguous: 




"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.

"


Right wing hatemongers bellowed falsely that the Senator's funeral services would become a "political rally" on behalf of universal healthcare. This is what they feared, but they don't get it. The Senator has always spoken for himself and for those without a voice, and he wasn't about to stop simply because, or rather, in spite of his funeral. His life was politics; how could there not be talk of politics at the Senator's final farewell? Not the crass and ugly politics practiced by hypocrites and haters, but politics as the byproduct of our highest ideals and as a means toward a more perfect union. 



It'll be interesting to see how low the cowardly right will stoop in attacking Ted Kennedy's gradchildren who offered intercession prayers on behalf of the many social legislative themes that inspired the Senator's life. Among these, of course, is universal healthcare legislation, “for what my grandpa called the cause of his life, as he said so often: in every part of this land, that every American will have decent quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.” Not surprisingly, the wingnut sickos have already begun their attacks.

Ted Kennedy's eloquent letter to the Pope (emphases mine) follows below:

"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."
What a wonderful few days of services for Senator Kennedy. The outpouring of love and affection from the people was tremendous. If you missed it, Ted Kennedy Jr.'s remembrance of his dad (linked here) was a special treat.

2 comments:

Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Watching George W. Bush at the funeral of Teddy Kennedy on Saturday was, to say the very least, amusing. It's always great fun to witness the members of the vast right wing conspiracy confronted head-on with the theological flaws that are inherent in their philosophy. Watching that event with my pal, Kevin Swanwick, we both were mesmerized and just slightly overjoyed to be reminded yet again that the basic tenets of Liberalism are in perfect harmony with our Christianity - our Catholicism: feed the hungry, shelter the poor and clothe the naked. Oh, how I wish the camera would have cut to Bush's face the moment he was confronted with the most famous line (and justly so) from the Gospel according to Matthew:

"I tell you this: whatever you did to the least of these brothers of mine, you did to me."

Jesus of Nazareth

One can only imagine how uncomfortable that passage from the scriptures must have made him feel. Or how about the Sermon on the Mount?

"Blessed are the peace makers
For they shall be called Sons of God."

I imagine being confronted with the words of Jesus Christ might make old George just a tad uneasy. The prayers that were offered up by the youngest members of the Kennedy clan, in Teddy's own words, were the most touching part of the entire day:

"That human beings be measured not by what they cannot do. That quality health care becomes a fundamental right and not a privilege. That old policies of race and gender die away. That newcomers be accepted, no matter their color or place of birth. That the nation stand united against violence, hate and war. That the work begins anew, and the dream lives on. We pray to the Lord."

Lord hear our prayer.

After the mass had ended, and Kevin and I headed into town to get a cup of coffee, I was almost stunned by the good cheer I felt. Ted Kennedy's funeral was truly a joyous event. Truth be told, it was damned-near therapeutic! The politics of joy as opposed to the politics of fear. There ain't nothin' like it in the world, Baby!

The stark contrasts between the ideals of the Progressive movement and the right wing's backwards and greedy ideology were out in public Saturday for all to compare and contrast at Our Lady of Perpetual Comfort Church in Boston. The differences were so obvious, you could not have missed them had you tried.

http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Carlos said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tom. Yes, I agree. Ted Kennedy embodied the best of Catholic social teaching. As Ted Jr. said, his dad drew inspiration from his brothers. One of their sisters once said that Bobby was like “a revolutionary priest.”

A few random thoughts of my own:

I’ve got to say, it was fortuitous and somehow fitting that the Chicago White Sox of Illinois, land of Abe Lincoln, participated as the visiting team that honored the memory of Ted Kennedy at Fenway Park.

Watching the service, and the generations of Kennedy kids gathered there, the theme echoed by conservatives and some pundits that this was “the end of an era” seemed more whimsy and wishful thinking than reality. I believe we have not seen the end of high profile Kennedys in public office.

Carlos