Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Cardinal and His Critics

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,” will be liable to fiery Gehenna.” (Matthew 5: 21-23)

“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6: 37)

“Nothing should upset the servant of God except sin. And no matter how another person may sin, if the servant of God lets himself become angry and disturbed because of this, [and] not because of love, he stores up guilt for himself (cf. Rm2:5). That servant of God who does not become angry or upset at anything lives justly and without anything of his own. And he is blessed who does not keep anything for himself, rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s (Mt 22:21).” Admonition XI, - St. Francis of Assisi.

The Catholic blogosphere has been alive with comments about the funeral of Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, and the participation of Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap., Archbishop of Boston, at that funeral. The Cardinal has taken a lot of heat for being in attendance, and for leading the final prayers. Michael Paulson of the Boston Globe gives some of the details of this story. His Eminence has also commented on his own position concerning giving a Catholic funeral to the Senator, and what all this harsh rhetoric and comments is doing to the Church and the pro-life movement.

The Church is at its best when it shows compassion and mercy even to those who disagree with it, who may have taken positions against Church teaching. Yes, the Church has a prophetic role to play in the world and it must speak truth to power, but it must do so in such a way that does not violate Christ command to love one another. And when Jesus says love one another, he is not just talking about our friends, he is also talking about those who oppose us, who harm us. It is a spiritual work of mercy to admonish the sinner, but not with words of fire, brimstone, and damnation, but with words of concern, courtesy and respect for a fellow child of God.

Finally, it is a corporal work of mercy to bury the dead. And the Church in Boston was showing mercy to Ted Kennedy and his family, when it gave the Senator a Catholic funeral, trusting in the Father’s love and wisdom.

Photo from Boston Herald

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