New Stanek WND column, "Ted Kennedy's letter to the pope"


Thoughts of Ted Kennedy stir quite competing emotions in me.

Sadness and compassion are 2 I feel when considering Kennedy's family history.

kennedy lion.jpg

All 3 of Kennedy's older brothers were killed young while serving their country. This meant that after his father died in 1969, Kennedy was forced at the age of 40 into the role of patriarch of a large clan that included 2 widowed sisters-in-law and 13 fatherless nieces and nephews.

Kennedy was present, for instance, at Ethel's delivery of daughter Rory 6 months after husband and father Bobby was assassinated.

But in an awful twist, John Jr. died in a plane crash on his way to Rory's wedding in 1999, yet another example of the seemingly never-ending Kennedy family tragedies.

And I feel bad about all that.

Then there's the Chappaquiddick Kennedy, which stirs shock and disbelief, and the rabble-rousing Kennedy, whose poor example did nephew William Kennedy Smith no favors, which stirs disgust.

And there is the Liberal Lion Kennedy, who wrought catastrophic harm to preborn human life.

This Kennedy infuriates me.....

Continue reading my column today, "Ted Kennedy's letter to the pope," at


For more insight into how Kennedy pioneered the abortion flip-flop, see Anne Hendershott's WSJ essay, 'How Support for Abortion Became Kennedy Dogma' at

Posted by: Allyson Smith at September 2, 2009 9:58 AM

His "imperfections"? Let's try calling them what they are: Sins. Instead of justifying his good deeds to the Pope, one would have thought that his (and our own) cry would be "Lord have mercy on me a sinner".

Posted by: Lori at September 2, 2009 10:28 AM

The sad thing is that this is a man to whom we could have all looked to with great respect had he not conducted himself like a pompous adolescent, then used the family millions to get himself off the hook.
While I do not agree with the politics of Sen. Lieberman of Connecticut, I nonetheless respect him as a statesman.

This was hardly any example for the younger Kennedys who have also seemed to learn that wealth and power can enable irresponsible and unacceptable behavior.

Ted Kennedy was not the first, nor will he be the last man or woman to have enormous responsiblity put on them and yes, the Kennedy family had more than their share of tragedy, but this did not excuse leaving a woman to drown, trashing a woman accusing his nephew of rape, philandering, drunken escapades, and the abuse of women, i.e. the "waitress sandwiches". His responsibilities could not have been all that burdensome if he found time for these activities.

Posted by: Mary at September 2, 2009 10:31 AM

Kennedy's life is a lesson on how all Liberals eventually have to face the consequences of their political choices.

Hey Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Jackson, listening?

There is a God in Heaven and He is not mocked.

While none of us is perfect, there is a difference between one who seeks to do God's will and fails and another who with full knowledge of the sin, deliberately rebels against the Author of Life. One finds mercy and the other condemnation.

Yes, there are eternal consequences for exchanging the truth for a lie which is what all do who trade doing the right thing for short term power, money, and fame.

Abortion is a grave sin. And without Kennedy making a public confession of the error of his ways, which would have been an indication of a changed heart, there was no repentance. Without repentance there can be no forgiveness of sin. A person with the true heart of a lion would have made such a confession, been freely washed in the blood of the Lamb and welcomed home.

Jesus said, "if you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father in Heaven". What can be more of a denial of Jesus Christ than snuffing out the lives of the least of these my brethren? Did not Jesus say, "whatever you did to the these of these, you did unto me"? And let's not forget the millstone parable and leading children into sin, i.e., young pregnant mothers who are counseled to get abortions by that ravenous wolf, Planned Parenthood?

Read the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Could not Lazarus be considered every single defenseless and innocent human being snuffed out in their mother's womb? And could not the rich man be considered those who totally ignored the most defenseless of society? And God will not send anyone back from the grave to warn us of the reality of hell. We have the Bible and those that believe it teaches that all life is precious and to be protected and cherished.

I call on all Liberals to repent of your depravity for supporting abortion. Do it now before it is too late. Your Lion is no longer roaring. To ignore these warnings is simply foolish.

Posted by: Phil Schembri is HisMan at September 2, 2009 11:32 AM

How come noone mentions Teddy's sister with Down Syndrome? I didn't see her included in the family photo. They were embarassed of her. Their father subjected her to a labotomy. Perhaps that's why Teddy was/is so pro-abortion. He joins the 90% of Americans who believe that children with disabilities should be aborted. If the 90% of babies with DS weren't being aborted we would see more of these precious people and not think it was so horrible to have one in your family. When Teddy was a boy they were still institutionalizing these people so they were kept out of public view.

Posted by: Lena at September 2, 2009 11:44 AM

There are people who practice their religion at the level of shamanism. These are the ones whose vision of the Deity is of One who might fulfill requests if certain favors are proffered, or incantations and rituals are performed.
Ted Kennedy's faith appeared to have been at that level, though he claimed to be Catholic. I believe that many of his own family are thinking at that level, as evidenced by the funeral mass, and their request for God to grant them Obamacare, in the name of Kennedy.

This probably puzzles the rest of practicing Jews and Christians, who understand that God has moral expectations, for us to live according to his design for humans. Our sincere attempt to adhere to this design is demonstration of our recognition of God and belief in His benevolence. Ultimately we rely on God's mercy and love for his created beings.

Ted's letter to Pope Benedict calls to mind the New Testament story (Luke 18:9-14) of that Pharisee enumerating his good works, and the tax collector...

It's a good thing for Ted that Catholics have the purgatory holding tank, or that boy would be flushed! ;-) ;-)

Ted is really lucky that I'm not "partners with God in matters of life and death", as Obamanator thinks he is... hehhehheh...

Through all the mental meandering and evil humor, there remains the ultimate recognition that God determines these matters, and His standards are certainly different and more merciful than mine.

Posted by: Pharmer at September 2, 2009 12:13 PM

The media and Catholic hierarchy in Boston have at least one thing in common regarding the Kennedy funeral hype: failure to tell the whole story regarding one of the worst behaved politicians in recent times. The media could possibly claim truthfully that they did not know the Catholic position on the intrinsic evils of abortion, euthanasia, and the practice of homosexuality; the leaders of the Boston archdiocese cannot claim such ignorance. May God have mercy on them.

Posted by: Brad at September 2, 2009 12:22 PM

Jill, hooray for you for saying this! His stance on abortion, Mary Jo Kopechne, not to mention his family reading his letter to the Pope at his graveside, and the Pope's return letter left me thinking of all the "poor" people with brain cancer who don't have the privilege to have the President of the US deliver it for them, much less get a response. Finally though, Kennedy's met a judge he cannot plead "he forgot" to and get by with it.

Posted by: Sheila at September 2, 2009 12:27 PM

Kennedy was a lot worse than the MSM was ever willing to admit.

"Kennedy's free pass with women"...

Posted by: BBF at September 2, 2009 12:31 PM

My thoughts about Ted's letter are mainly pity. At the end of his life, he still didn't get it.

Salvation is an act of Grace, not a reward for good works. Plenty of "good" people will go to Hell. Mohandas Gandhi was one of the best people of the entire 20th century. He helped millions of people, and he taught a better way to live. And yet, he never accepted Christ as his Savior as far as we know, so it seems likely that Gandhi is in Hell.

God's standard is absolute perfection. No flaws, no sins, no mistakes ... nothing less than absolute perfection. And we can't live up to that standard. If Gandhi couldn't do it, Ted Kennedy certainly couldn't do it. His own letter admits as much. He knew he was flawed. We're all flawed.

The Christian response to our flaws is to throw ourselves at Christ's feet. We know that we cannot be good enough for Heaven. We trust in Jesus and the sacrifice that He made for us. Because of that sacrifice, God accepts Christ's perfection in place of our own filthy rags. We are saved ... but it's not because of anything that we did. It's all because of Jesus.

Kennedy's letter shows a different mindset. Yes, he admitted (some of) his flaws, but then he tried to justify himself with his own good works. Even if Kennedy got full credit for all of those good works and no "demerits" for his support of abortion, Chappaquiddick, and other failings, good works don't get us into Heaven.

Posted by: Naaman at September 2, 2009 12:35 PM

Amen, Jill! As usual you always write what I think! God keep blessing you girl, you are my inspiration!

Posted by: Linda D. at September 2, 2009 12:37 PM

The Kennedy letter reminds me of the pharisee claiming that he is so much better than the publican because of all the things he did.

I actually feel pity for Teddy Kennedy where before I just felt disgust. I am a Catholic and hope he made it as far as purgatory. I hope I do too.

Posted by: Andy at September 2, 2009 12:37 PM

What I felt was disgust that he, by his own words a lifelong Catholic, should presume to make his case before the Holy father (as if the Holy Father's authority to bind and to loose actually extended to making righteous what is sinful) without at least admitting that he carried torch for the enemies of life for most of his political career.

And in almost every accomplishment he mentions, his personal role was to reach into the pockets of US taxpayers, most of whom were nowhere near as wealthy (can we say filthy rich on the ill-gotten gains of his family's smuggling and other organized crimes) as was he.

And his hypocrisy on several of these fronts was as huge as his personal girth; he was the leader of those in Congress who wrested any last change of South Vietnamese victory against the North Vietnamese and called that ending war, while at the same time he supported the terrorist efforts
of the IRA.

It also made me feel wrathful disdain for every clergyman, but especially the bishops and cardinals (and McCarrick is one of these) who winked at his violent opposition to both the specific teachings on the sanctity of life and his resolute opposition to the Magisterium. These clergymen winked at his defiance even as they mounted the stage with him to clamor for the interests of illegal aliens over the rights of citizens and property owners.

Of course, most of these bishops and cardinals were self-buried, neck deep in the mess of clergy sexual abuse in their dioceses and heterodoxic deviance in their seminaries. I would say these people are also likely to confuse their expenditure of effort and other peoples' money with spiritual accomplishments that they actually want to remind The Almighty of.

Here in my diocese, one of our local priests actually scheduled and published a Memorial Mass in celebration of Ted Kennedy's life and support of Hispanics. The mass was publicized, the public was invited, and it was all asked for by a former state representative and several other local Democrat party movers and shakers.

I am glad you felt pity, I probably should have felt the same but can't. I only feel betrayed by all of those who should have stood up for the faith and the faithful, but stabbed us all in the back with this, another scandal.

Posted by: James, adult convert at September 2, 2009 12:52 PM

To put it bluntly, politicians are notorious womanizers. So much opportunity for temptation. It's no wonder they all support abortion. It covers their indiscretions. What does this say about the rest of the male population who supports abortion? Maybe it's time for soul-searching among male pro-choicers.

Posted by: Janet at September 2, 2009 1:07 PM

Lena 11:44am

Rosemary Kennedy did not have Down Syndrome and is in fact featured in some early family photos.
Her "retardation" and physical disability was the result of a botched lobotomy arranged by her father to control her violent outbursts and mood swings. I understand old Joe did this while his wife Rose was away and its the one thing she never forgave him for.
I have heard it theorized that Rosemary may have been autistic, and these children were often branded retarded. Unfortunately Rosemary did not have the advantages of modern day diagnostic techniques or special education. She also did not have the love and care of a father who could well have arranged the best facility or at-home caretakers for her, as devoted parents John Travolta and his wife did for their autistic son.

Special Olympics was founded by her Rosemary's sister Eunice. Maybe that's the one positive factor in the whole tragedy.

Posted by: Mary at September 2, 2009 2:05 PM

"I don't know how Kennedy's avid support of abortion could not have nagged him in the end."


Time heals all wounds and time wounds all heels.

So Teddy had little fly in his ointment the size of a bloated and rotting dead donkey.

You just have to get over it and move on.

You can't dwell on the past forever.

What's a few dead babies and at least one dead women compared to all the 'good' done by the 'lyin' of the Senate.

Nobodys perfect. [Except Jesus]

Posted by: kbhvac at September 2, 2009 2:16 PM

Mrs. Stanek,

In your article about Ted Kennedy, in reference to his letter to the Pope, you said “Nowhere in it did Kennedy profess a belief that Jesus Christ died to give him the free gift of eternal life…”

To be fair to Mr. Kennedy, he did say in the letter “I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings of my faith.” Wouldn’t one of the fundamental teachings of his faith be the belief that Jesus Christ died to give him the free gift of eternal life?

Posted by: Ryan A. at September 2, 2009 2:57 PM


You're right that Kennedy could have implied that by his statement. But if so, why was the overall gist of his letter not one of reliance in the death of Jesus for his salvation but a seeming reliance in his accomplishments? Why else list them? I imagined what sort of letter I would write to the leader of my faith when dying, and it would be about the opposite of that. As the late Congressman Henry Hyde often loved to quote, Luke 17:10: "When you have done all you have been commanded to do, say, 'We are unworthy servants. We have done no more than our duty.'"

Posted by: Jill Stanek Author Profile Page at September 2, 2009 2:59 PM


"Wouldn’t one of the fundamental teachings of his faith be the belief that Jesus Christ died to give him the free gift of eternal life?"

Yes. However, another fundamental teaching of the (Catholic) faith is the sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Unfortunately, Kennedy supported the destruction of unborn human life. So while I certainly hope he believed that Jesus died to give him the free gift of eternal life, if he rebels in one aspect of the faith, there is no reason to believe he was implicitly affirming another aspect of the faith. God love you.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at September 2, 2009 3:06 PM


I'm curious (again!). And I really appreciate your input (and others' as well!)

For argument sake, let's say that until Kennedy's last breath he never repented about his stance on abortion. What then, according to Catholic teaching, are the repercussions to his eternal life for not repenting?

thanks again!

Posted by: Marie at September 2, 2009 4:26 PM

Hi Marie.

It's hard to say because there is the subjective aspect about one's level of knowledge. In general, one who supports abortion without repenting is in a state of rebellion against God and would go to hell. But the rub is that you can't be held responsible for what you don't know. So possibly you might argue that everyone knows in their heart of hearts that abortion is evil, based on Romans 1, and so indeed an unrepeanted supporter of abortion would go to hell. Possibly. But like especially in the case of Kennedy, we know that he was once pro-life and his "conversion" was actually brought about by a bunch of EVIL Catholic priests who persuaded many of the Kenndays that it was permissible to support abortion and be a good Catholic. So just right there, it's very easy to see that he may have legitimately been duped and lied to by these priests. They have some authority, and they misused it. So there is this whole subjective aspect that we just can't say because we do not know how culpable he was for the position he held, even if he never repented. You look at what is said in teh MSM these days, and many people STILL think the unborn is a blob of tissue or a clump of cells; they are lied to and many people simply have no idea that the unborn is a human being. How culpable are they? Only God knows.

I wish there was a nice cut-and-dry answer for you. I can definitely say that anyone who knows that abortion is evil and doesn't repent is in a state of rebellion against God and will be lost. We just need to keep in mind teh principle that you can not be held accountable for what you do not know. To what extent and how is this principle applied? Only God knows.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at September 2, 2009 4:45 PM

Thank you Bobby. I guess Kennedy is another shining example of why we should turn to God for guidance on things instead of relying on man.

I can understand how someone can convert from being a pro-abort to pro-life, buy I cannot fathom how the reverse can happen. In my opinion, he sold his soul for power and status in the world of man. But then, I really don't know. You're right...only God does.

Thanks again.

Posted by: Marie at September 2, 2009 5:04 PM

I agree, Marie. It is difficult to see how one can repent after building up such a foundation of death, but all things are possible with God. God love you.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at September 2, 2009 5:11 PM

"I can definitely say that anyone who knows that abortion is evil and doesn't repent is in a state of rebellion against God and will be lost."


Posted by: Hal at September 2, 2009 5:14 PM

Yes, because that is essentially the definition of mortal sin, which in Catholic theology, is precisely the difference between heaven and hell. I mean, I did say something pretty strong; that someone KNOWS that it is evil. Now again, no human being can ever know what any other human being knows in ALL of its detail and essence because that is what is needed to make a personal judgement. So it goes without saying that I have NO idea what was going through Kennedys mind when he died, and hence no idea of the state of his soul.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at September 2, 2009 5:18 PM

That woman YOU gave me made me do it.

Those 'evil' teachers YOU gave me made me do it.

I am just grateful that Jesus willingly became the scape goat for all our 'excuses'.

When the 'bent one' came to Jesus and offerred HIM all the kingdoms of the world if HE would worship him, Jesus already knew it was within the realm of possibility, if not probability or even a certainty that HE, Jesus, could, and would, be the KING of kings.

So the 'bent one' was offerring Jesus a path to the throne that bypassed the cross.

But for the joy set before HIM, HE endured the cross, despised the shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God because HE did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself of the acoutrements of divinity and not only became a man, but took on the form of a bond servant. [A servant who after being offerred his freedom choses to remain a servant in his master's house and to demonstrate this is an act of his own free will drives an awl through his ear into the tentpost or doorpost of his masters house. (Ex 21:6, Deut 15:17)

Jesus was sacrificed once for all. But every follower of Jesus will experience the way of the cross on the path to sonship.

For what did Ted Kennedy trade, not only the kingdom of God, but like Esau, his birthright and and his inheritance as a son of God?

The doubling down on dumb and loosing money on the instant replay, is that Ted neither avoided the sufferring or attained to the eternal throne.

Only God knows what Ted's condition is now and where he will spend eternity.

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at September 2, 2009 5:26 PM


If Ted Kennedy had a friend in Jesus Christ it was one of the best kept secrets of his life.

"Faith without works is dead..." says the Bible.

On the other hand, if Ted was really saved and merely miles out of fellowship, then he would qualify as one of the greatest examples of grace in church age history.

Possibly he is in heaven right now but forced to wear a gigantic "Dunce Cap" for eternity.

How appropriate.

Posted by: James R. at September 2, 2009 5:35 PM

Something about Kennedy's last days reminds me of Cardinal Bernardin's death. Both were busy up to the end trying to assert themselves into the direction of things to come. I suppose it is only natural in some ways to want to do this but our Catholic faith taught us from our youngest days that ultimately the only reality that matters is our relationship with our Lord when we reach that fearful day of judgment. To this end when one reaches the end of his life, our thoughts should really be on growing closer to our Lord.

And then there is Benedict's reply to Kennedy's letter. Of course, we do not know the full content of Benedict's reply, only that part which was shared. Judging from Kennedy's pouring out his soul on how he conducted his life's work, the supreme pontiff would have been remiss to have failed to suggest Kennedy avail himself to the last rites of the Church and the sacrament of confession. Knowing that the letter would not remain private, it is doubtful that the pope would have addressed specific matters such as Kennedy's support of abortion.

Posted by: Jerry at September 2, 2009 5:35 PM

Posted by: Bobby Bambino at September 2, 2009 5:18 PM

"So it goes without saying that I have NO idea what was going through Kennedys mind when he died, and hence no idea of the state of his soul."


I can assert with some confidence that Teddy was not wondering if he left the stove on or he failed to lock the door front door.

The 'state' of Kennedy's soul was Massachusetts.

(My heart is in Texas.)

What is the last thing to go through a bugs mind when it splats on your windshield?

It's butt!

(Is that some sort of metaphor?)

C. S. Lewis once wrote that Jesus choosing to give up 'godhood' in order to become a mortal human being and then agreeing to die to save all humans is akin to a human agreeing to become a slug and then freely agreeing to die in order to save all slugs.

(Is that a metaphor as well?)

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at September 2, 2009 7:17 PM


You're still the man but I disagree with you.

We have God's Word the Bible and in it is found God's perfect will. We are commanded to study it to show ourselves approved.

Very simply, ignorance nor believing a lie are valid excuses.

Mr. Kennedy had every opportunity to go to God Himself and ask to be led. The word promises that God will lead and be found if we seek Him with all our hearts.

This is one of my main problems with the Catholic faith and its reliance on the so-called "clergy".

To allow any compromise on this issue opens the door to moral relativism and is in fact what has led to legal abortion.

Remember, the road to life is narrow and few are those that find it.

Posted by: Phil Schembri is HisMan at September 2, 2009 9:27 PM

From Newsbusters' Jodi Miller:

"Speaking on CBS, historian Douglas Brinkley called Teddy Kennedy a 'martyr' for pushing Obamacare."

"No, Douglas, He would have been a martyr for Obamacare if Kennedy had actually [attempted to]use it.!"

[I added 'attempted' because if Kennedy had attempted to receive medical treatmetn under obamacare a panel of end of life counselors would have reviewed Ted's medical history, his current condition, the probabilities of Ted's recovering from his brain cancer, the cost for treatment, how many productive years Ted had left, and what course of action or inaction would yield the most money to the federal government.

The government panel of end of life counselors would likely advise Ted to take two aspirin and don't call us in the morning if you are still alive.

Then they would send Ted's family a bill for their services without ever telling them just what they did not do!

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at September 2, 2009 10:03 PM


You hit the nail on the head regarding Teddy boy. The harm he inflicted on others far exceed whatever perceived and/or actual good he may have done. These include the Chappaquidick incident
and all of the waitresses that he tried to force himself on, even into his 70's.

Thankfully, the Pope didn't make an official statement on his behalf and no Catholic Cardinal was present at the funeral, though having 7 Priests there was a bit much. The eulogizing of
him by Obama as if Teddy was truly a decent person was disgusting, to say the least. Of Course, Barry had to pay back to Kennedy relatives
the support Teddy provided for him in the primaries.

Posted by: Laurence at September 3, 2009 7:56 AM

HI HisMan, my good friend. Thank you for the reply. I have a couple verses in mind to try and argue that we can not be held accountable for what we do not know. The first is John 9:41, where Jesus is discussing spiritual blindness with the Pharisees.

41 Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

Also John 15:22 where Jesus is speaking to his disciples about how basically it's "them against the world."

22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.

Now especially in light of what Jesus says in John 15, one could argue that by "them", Jesus means the whole world for all time and all places, hence no one has an excuse. I think given these two verses, though, that we can not say when a person has been sufficiently spoken to or whether or not they are "blind." It may very well be the case that you are correct and no one has an ignorance excuse. I'm very open to that possibility. But just given the fact that there is so much evil that is called good and good that is called evil in our world, and lies lies lies, it seems almost impossible to come up with some sort of a calculus to say when enough and the quantity of lies is sufficient to spiritually blind someone. Those are just some ideas. God love you, Stud.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at September 3, 2009 8:22 AM

I don't think this has been noted, but the Catholic funeral rite does NOT allow for a eulogy [HT Fr. Z of WDTPRS]. Indeed,

The Rite of Christian Funerals 141 says: “A brief homily based on the readings is always given after the gospel reading at the funeral liturgy and may also be given after the readings at the vigil service; but there is never to be a eulogy.”

The 2000 GIRM [General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the book that basically has all the definitive norms for how Catholic mass is to be celebrated] 338 says: "At the funeral Mass there should as a rule be a short homily, but never a eulogy of any kind. The homily is also recommended at other Masses for the dead celebrated with a congregation."

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at September 3, 2009 8:28 AM

Oh I can't believe I forgot this one. Also, HisMan, Luke 23:34 as Jesus is on the cross

34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Jesus himself was among them in the flesh, preaching the gospel to them, so if there as ANY group of people that shouldn't have an excuse, it is those who witnessed Jesus preaching in the flesh. Yet even Jesus himself claims that these people didn't know what they were doing. So my point is that I think in principle it is possible to not be culpable for what you are doing. I'm not making any claims as to what that takes, nor who or how many people fall under that category; just that we can't say unequivocally that all are completely aware of the TRUTH of Jesus Christ and his gospel.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at September 3, 2009 8:38 AM

To allow any compromise on this issue opens the door to moral relativism and is in fact what has led to legal abortion.

But, Hisman, don't you think that ignorance is to some extent an excuse from the law? Not purposefully maintained ignorance, but legitimate ignorance? Do you believe that one must know something is a grave sin, to have that sin on their soul? I'm not asking if you believe that Ted Kennedy legitimately thought legal abortion was acceptable to support as a Catholic, but whether a Catholic who legitimately believed that legal abortion was acceptable to support would be "as guilty" as a Catholic who knew it was unacceptable and supported it anyway.

I think that in the broader context of things, it is the pursuit of truth that matters; if God is truth, then the pursuit of truth is the pursuit of God. And if a person is unable to know Christian doctrine, not for lack of seeking but for lack of correct answers to be found within his realm of existence -- if he never knows to say, "I accept Christ as my savior," or if he never knows that certain things are grave sins, or whatever -- then it is the openness to truth, the search for truth, the love of truth that counts. I suppose that the fact that it doesn't is one more reason I am not a Christian.

Posted by: Alexandra at September 3, 2009 9:21 AM

Oh, never mind, Bobby already commented. That'll teach me to respond, run a work errand, and then hit submit. I don't know why I say anything in these discussions.

Posted by: Alexandra at September 3, 2009 9:23 AM

Posted by: Bobby Bambino at September 3, 2009 8:38 AM

"34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."


If they were 'not guilty' because they did not know what they were doing, then why would Jesus have to ask the Father to forgive them for what they unknowingly did?

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at September 3, 2009 11:46 PM

Posted by: Alexandra at September 3, 2009 9:21 AM

"But, Hisman, don't you think that ignorance is to some extent an excuse from the law? Not purposefully maintained ignorance, but legitimate ignorance?"


Ask HAL about 'mens rea'.

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at September 3, 2009 11:50 PM

Hey Ken --

I don't know that I would need to ask Hal about mens rea. To my understanding, it is the legal principle that "the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind be also guilty," excluding strict liability cases. There are different standards of "guilty mind" that affect how we sentence people -- whether they acted purposefully, knowingly, negligently, etc, affects how they are legally charged. In other words, if a crazy person kills his neighbor but does not understand what he has done, he is not guilty of murder. Is this just? I think so; who would we be if we punished people for crimes they were incapable of understanding? And I personally find it hard to believe that an omnipotent, caring God who is not true or loving but who, rather, IS truth and love himself, would be LESS likely to take into account the mental and spiritual and emotional factors going into a person's decisions, than a flawed and clumsy human attempt at justice.

This seems to support, not contradict, what I said I thought earlier -- that if a person does not know that what they are doing is a grave sin, then while they are certainly doing something objectively WRONG, they are not sinning gravely. If I am missing something, I would appreciate you elaborating.

Of course, it is even more impossible to know a person's soul at the moment he died than it is to know his state of mind at the time a crime was committed, but fortunately we are not called to judge such things, nor to even sit on a jury as peers.

Posted by: Alexandra at September 4, 2009 5:32 AM

Hey Ken. I think the answer to your question is that when you do something objectively evil, you should a priori be punished. You are found doing something evil and the defult is punishment. But there can be mitigating factors, like insanity or lack of knowledge. I think that's the case here. God love you.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at September 4, 2009 6:17 AM

really great discussion here. Thanks to Bobby for some insightful comments.
I do agree that the Kennedy's were grossly mislead by their priests but I"m not so sure that this would completely undo their culpability. After all, they also had a duty to study the issue themselves. There have been and continue to be an abundance of statements and documents re; abortion, contraception and new biotechnologies. Many well-known public Catholic figures spoke out eloquently against abortion throughout the 1970's, '80's and 90's.
IMO, we once again see the terrible harm done by the US bishops in not properly leading their flock; in their seeking to be popular rather than seeking to do the will of God and understanding the CC's teaching in the areas of sexual morality. I am certain they will be held severely accountable for each and every soul entrusted to their care.

I can count among my good friends many who have been misled by confessors as to the use of BC and abortion. But these people eventually, through a genuine seeking of the truth, came to know the truth and repented.
To me, it doesn't seem like Ted Kennedy fit into this latter group, although I don't know. One would think if he did, there would have been some mention of it in his letter to the pope, especially if he knew this letter would be made public after his death.

Posted by: angel at September 4, 2009 8:21 AM

from American Papist:

"...There were many words given at the Senator’s exeguies about his “private faith,” but private faith is not enough. “Faith without deeds is dead,” as St. James poignantly reminds us. The Church has a responsibility to help bring people from “private faith” to see the consequences of it in public actions, and, in the Senator’s case, we didn’t succeed."

Said by Fr. Landry.
It's taken 40 years but the American clergy are starting to wake up. One can be hopeful.

Posted by: angel at September 4, 2009 8:37 AM

I think Jesus' forgiving of the criminals crucified on either side of him was His way of demonstrating God's undying mercy for all sinners. I'm reminded of a song we sing at mass which comes from Psalm 103 called The Lord is Kind and Merciful.

See Psalm 103:
Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger, abounding in kindness.
God does not always rebuke, nurses no lasting anger,
Has not dealt with us as our sins merit, nor requited us as our deeds deserve.
As the heavens tower over the earth, so God's love towers over the faithful.
As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on the faithful.

Posted by: Janet at September 4, 2009 10:56 AM