I don’t have anything to say about the death of Sen. Kennedy other than to pray for his eternal soul.
But here comes the but. I do have something to say about the commentary on Sen. Kennedy especially as put out by Catholic sources. A lot of it puts forth that the Senator was a good Catholic except for his support of abortion. We get phrases like “mixed record” and that his political career supported the “heart of Catholic social justice.” It is all rather a whitewash and while it is worthy to not speak ill of the dead, it is also totally wrong to lie about the dead.
Sen. Kennedy who was once pro-life became quite a vigorous proponent of legal abortion. This much at least most of the Catholic articles reference kind of a as caveat so they could also praise him. No mention that he also supported contraception, cloning, ESCR, homosexual acts, homosexual marriage, and opposed the Defense of Marriage Act. When a Senate bill was put forth to attempt to save Terri Schiavo, Sen. Kennedy was the leader of the opposition. So when it came to five non-negotiable teachings of the Catholic Church, Mr. Kennedy was 0 for 5.
So the great good he was suppose to have done was in the area of great society efforts to use big government to help the poor and needy. This is not exactly the “heart of Catholic social teaching,” Catholics can prudently agree or disagree as to whether this approach actually helped those the programs were aimed at. People on both sides of this question certainly intended to help the poor. Many thought these programs would help out. Those who were opposed to these government interventions thought they would do more harm than good. In this area there is lots of room for Catholics to put forth how best our love of neighbor can be carried out since for the most part these are prudential questions.
So like I said it annoyed me to see articles put out by Catholics that so praised his votes for the big government approach as if it was the only approach that reflected Catholic social teaching. As if the requirement to be a great champion of the poor is to vote on stuff. Plus the moral relativity was quite evident in the phrasing that unfortunately he supported abortion, but look at all the social justice votes.
Now I understand these articles were trying to be balanced, but let us not pretend that he was a great Catholic except for his lapse on abortion. As annoying as these type articles are, leave it to the National Catholic Reporter to not mention any problem. Sister Maureen Fiedler wrote “He made me proud to be a Catholic” and was a champion of “women’s rights.” Patrick Madrid replied to this bit of nonsence.
Update: Wow, this article by the Catholic News Service via The Compass – Diocese of Green Bay by Jesuit Fr. William J. Byron is unbelievable. Nobody’s perfect: Remembering Ted Kennedy. He calls him a a truly great United States senator and makes no mention as to his support of abortion and laundry list of intrinsic evils. Though he thinks the Senator’s annulment was important to bring up and not his culture of death votes.