Left to Us in This Life
So there’s been some controversy over Ted Kennedy’s receipt of Catholic burial rights, with the participation of Cardinal Sean O’Malley, no less. I lean toward the other side, as described here by Catholic University School of Canon Law Dean Father Robert Kaslyn:
He compared the pastoral issue to the question of whether couples seeking a church marriage should be denied the sacrament if it’s not clear that they are sufficiently faithful. In addressing the question, Father Kaslyn paraphrased Pope John Paul II, saying that “to judge the presence or absence of sufficient faith is almost impossible, and therefore the church should presuppose that if a couple is willing to go through the preparation process that is sufficient.”
On the day of my marriage, I would have characterized myself as an atheist, and while I like to think that I’d have found my way to the true faith, when I later went looking for it, being already married in the Church certainly made the journey easier. Just so, our duty as believers is to do all that we can, in this life, to help others toward heavenly repose with the Father, and if the appropriate burial would facilitate that, then it is for us to put away our human pique and provide it.
That said, the presence of multiple priests and the local archbishop are unaccountable apart from the fame of the deceased, which fame is unalterably tainted with (most prominently) the stain of abortion. The Church was right to send the senator along in full hope of his ultimate salvation, but it was wrong of local clerics to make his funeral a matter of especial note based on his worldly prominence.