Category Archives: catholic church

A postmortem on the postmortem of Ted Kennedy

Have we passed the mourning period for Ted Kennedy yet? Since his name now appears in the press less than Princess Di, I assume we have. I did not want to seem disrespectful at the moment of the Senator’s internment, and I thought I should wait to see if my reflections of the moment would prevail over time. They did, and I assume it is now safe to be disrespectful.

You see, there was a moment in time that I thought the Kennedy industry would set aside their usual pompous self importance and their habit of putting everything in their lives (and deaths) to some partisan political advantage. They presume that somehow their personal affairs (no pun intended) are of epic historic proportions. If their family constitutes an American dynasty it should be appropriately known as the Dysfunctional Dynasty.

I was hoping for some dignity in the latest Kennedy nationalized funeral. Now, I said “dignity” – not to be confused with pomposity and grandeur. In that, they are without peers. To be brutally blunt, the funeral and the reporting thereof, especially the left wing blogs, made me puke – well, figuratively.

The objectives of the Hyannis Port public relations machine were three-fold. First, was the effort to sanitize a history of debauchery and immorality that characterized the youngest of the Kennedy boys to a greater degree than his older siblings. No small task, to be sure. Second, to advance his legislative agenda. Third, to create the illusion of good standing with his Catholic Church.

I know one does not usually delineate shortcomings in obituaries – although the most dramatically flawed public figures often find their peccadilloes noted along side the accomplishments in the public press –especially if they are conservative or Republican.

However, the Kennedy obits, written and spoken, created an entirely fictional character. Listening to one speaker after another delineating the biography of Kennedy, the man, I was unable to find anything recognizable from my 45-years of observation of his public life (and a few personal involvements with him). Funereal protocol aside, I must say, there was not much to admire about the man other than his successful grasp of fame, fortune and power.

The second mission of the Hyannis Port public relations machine was to put as much steam behind the faltering healthcare legislation as possible. The funeral was less a wake than a lobbying event. “Single payer” and “public option” were as common an uttering as the more conventional “doesn’t he look good” and “he will be missed.”

Any hope of solemnity and dignity, evaporated in the crassly political content of the various memorial events. The Intercessions portion of the high Mass (in which God is called upon to bless specific pleadings) became a roll call of his liberal legislative agenda. Apparently, the Lion of the Senate was channeling his political roar through his own requiescat.

Obituary after obituary favorably referenced Kenney’s political causes, with an array of political guests advancing the illogical notion that Kennedy’s demise should, for some reason, end opposition to the liberal agenda – especially the current healthcare bill. Some suggested that they should pin Kennedy’s name on H.R. 3200 as if that, in and of itself, would de-putrefy the proposal.

Thirdly, there was the painfully obvious effort to turn the apostate into a devout Catholic. I do not think Mother Theresa could have been deemed a more faithful Catholic than the dead Kennedy based on the eulogies.

The low point was the letter to the Pope from the dying senator, carried to His Eminence by none other than President Barack Obama – perhaps the most powerful messenger angel ever so deployed. Keeping with the Democrats’ and the Kennedy’s propensity for the grand scale lie, Kennedy introduced the President to the Pope as a man of enormously deep faith.—who, incidentally, is still trying to figure out where to attend church in D.C.

The epistle to the Pope was nothing less than a pre-posthumous, self-serving stunt to make Kennedy appear to be a devout Catholic. It, too, contained Kennedy’s legislative agenda. The letter carried to the Pope served both the legislative and the canonization purposes.

However, the Holy Father was to smart to be suckered into a backhanded absolution of Kennedy’s Catholic failures. Teddy received a reply from a staffer that was more or less a boilerplate “thanks for your letter” response, with a promise of some prayers on the Senator’s behalf — much like the letter my wife’s grandmother received posthumously from the previous Vicar of Christ via a staffer.

The grandeur of the Catholic funeral would suggest the demise of one of the Knights of Malta. The praise of powerful clerics reinforced the image. Kennedy’s own priest/confidant gave an obituary that was so biased that even the press called it an attempt to refute any critics who might question Kennedy’s devotion to and good standing with the Church of Rome. Not only was Kennedy given the appearance of a general absolution for his apostasy, but it was alleged that his separation from the Catholic Church never occurred.

Despite the best efforts of the powerful Kennedy media mill, there were hints of the bad Catholic Kennedy. In a sly political move, the funeral was shifted from the likely Boston Cathedral to a lesser church so there would be an excuse for Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley to take a pass on officiating. He had been under considerable of pressure from pro-life Catholics to reject a high ritual canonization-style ceremony. At Arlington Cemetery, it was retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick who did the honors.

Dealing with the letter from the Pope …er … not the Pope, the Kennedy media spinners began selling the notion that it is the tradition of the Pope to answer through underlings. Of course, this is true for all the mundane mail the Pontiff receives, but the Pope actually does communicate in writing when he see fit. He did not see fit in this case. Put in its proper perspective, the Pope showed more contempt than respect for the public relations gimmick.

According to the Catholic Church, anyone who engages in abortions, patient or practitioner, and anyone who supports abortions exists outside the Catholic communion. It is an excommunicable offense – beyond the simple matter of confession and absolution. Repentance and forgiveness requires a course correction. Senior Church theologians have placed the encouragement of abortions as an automatic excommunication. You will recall that when running for President, Senator John Kerry was denied communion for his stand on abortion.

It seems to me that no amount of power and money, and no level of corruption within the Church, can alter God’s mandates as Catholic teachings state and enforce them. On this issue alone, Kennedy cannot offer himself as a devout Catholic adherent. He may not have been a Catholic at all in the eyes of the true Church.

The Catholic Church’s bending to the power and money of the Kennedys has garnered it significant and well deserved disrespect. Bending dogma to accommodate Kennedy’s cash-on-the-barrelhead annulment of his 25-year marriage to his first wife and mother of his children; to overlook his stand on abortion, the Church’s most fundamental issue of the day; and to turn a blind eye to his public infidelity and his repeated tendency to cause scandal (another major Catholic no-no) have all harmed the Church more than it helped him. The Church’s granting him its highest rituals, honors and endorsements have shown the Boston Catholic hierarchy to be as easily bought off as a Chicago city inspector.

Even from the grave, Kennedy is his own salesman. His recent book is little more than a long press release to spin his tawdry legacy into a Camelot fantasy. To entitle his autobiography “True Compass” is reflective of his unmitigated gall. “Crooked Shillelagh” might have been a more appropriate title.

Following the assassination of brother John Kennedy, there was a folk ballad with the lament “Johnny we hardly know ya.” In hearing the funeral oratory and examining the posthumous autobiography, one can come to the same conclusion about Teddy.

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>REACT: Father Pfleger’s return to his throne … ah … pulpit?

>Father Michael Pfleger is back at the pulpit. Cardinal George, who suspended the priest errant for two meaningless weeks of abstinence from the Saint Sabina sacristy, has given more evidence of his disappointing reign as the bishop of the Chicago Archdiocese.

The mini-banishment was the result of the brouhaha that followed Pfleger’s sexist and racist over-the-top performance at Obama’s former church, where “Trinity” refers to Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan and Michael Pfleger. The latter’s mockery of Hillary Clinton was only the vehicle for a larger rant against non-black America.

Shortly after his satirical impersonation of a black preacher hit You Tube, the very Arian looking Pfleger issued a less-than-apologetic mea culpa. I am sure Pfleger was sorry that he caused Barack Obama to resign from Trinity. I am sure he was sorry he received a personal rebuke from Obama. Even in regret, however, Pfleger never took responsibility for his actions, expressed sincere remorse, or demonstrated a firm commitment not to repeat his transgression – the three requirements for Catholic confession and forgiveness. He gave no evidence that he was sorry for the thrust of his message. His sorrow was more like the regret of a bank robber over getting caught — not the crime. The only people who accepted his apology were those who thought he was right to do what he did, in the first place.

It should have been the last straw, but Cardinal George treated like it was a unique lapse. The punishment was less than the slap on the back of the hand that nuns applied in the days of the old Catholic Church. Perhaps he was intimidated by the lavish media praise the press traditionally bestows on religious apostasy – especially by left-of-center preachers.

Oh, Perhaps it was the zealous demonstration of support from Pfleger’s followers at Saint Sabina, who each Sunday absorb and endorse Pfleger’s homilies of racial paranoia and divisiveness. Their You Tube-captured applauds, cheers and “amens” demonstrated a disturbing resonance with Pastor Pfleger’s anti white diatribes. It would appear that those who take up the pews function more like a cult than a congregation devoted to a good and greater God. Like many other narcissistic, egomaniacal and charismatic personalities, Pfleger has his following.

That is what is so disturbing about his triumphant return. Yes, triumphant. Pfleger returned to HIS throne to the rapturesque cheers and hosannas of HIS congregation. These are clearly HIS people. There was no sense of embarrassment over Pfleger’s statements and rebukes by both Obama and George. Absent was the humility of a true penitent. So powerful is his messianic message that many “members’ of Saint Sabina are not even Catholic. They are there for the political, not the priestly, Pfleger. Every exuberant alleluia was a proverbial fist in the face of Cardinal George.

Pfleger, has been allowed to remain pastor at Saint Sabina’s for more than 25 years – well past the time church policy normally requires a move. He is a good example of why that policy is a good one. It is designed to remind the parishioners that the pastor is NOT the church. It is designed to prevent the cult-ification of a congregation. George had a great opportunity to restore Saint Sabina to the communion of the Catholic Church. Carpe Diem! The Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago failed. Though his stature outside the parish may be deservedly diminished by his antics, Father Pfleger returns to Saint Sabina the clear victor.

>REACT: Father Pfleger finally flubs (see videos here)

>They applauded and cheered as Father Michael Pfleger, pastor the St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church, whooped it up as the visiting sermonizer at Trinity United Church of Christ – the one-time home of the racist Pastor Jeremiah Wright and long-time congregant Barak Obama. You would have thought they had learned a lesson about spewing hatred from the pulpit by now. But noooooooo!

Thanks to modern techonology and You Tube, the words of Father Pfleger are no longer just repeated but are available for all to hear. His message of anger and hate is no longer limited to the confines of the black church. You can see both his improper and illegal attack on Hillary Clinton — and his admission that he is causing trouble. The “man of God” knows he is sinning.

Because Father Plfeger is a raging left winger – more interested in a political platform than the pulpit — he has been allowed to be outrageous for years without much criticism from the fawning press. In fact, even the unavoidable criticism of his latest over-the-top stunt is tempered by the media with countervailing reporting on all the alleged good he has done through his ministry.

Methinks that he would not even now be criticized if his racist character and inappropriate comments had not turned out to be detrimental to the most important liberal sacred cow of the day, Barak Obama. This is the same song sheet the media choir have used in the past for Pastor Wright, Jesse “Hymie Town” Jackson, Al Sharpton and the rest of the racist reverends who play partisan politics from the pulpit – flagrantly violating the laws that affords them taxpayer subsidies. You and I pay for the venomous attacks on the non-black communities.

It is reported that Francis Cardinal George (left) has had enough of the bad boy Father Pfleger. I certainly hope so. He should be summarily booted … defrocked … excommunicated. He is the secular wolf lurking beneath the lamb (of God) skin.

Oh sure, Pfleger has apologized – said he is sorry if his brutal, sleazy racist mocking of Hillary Clinton and all non-black people offended her … and all non-black people. If course it offended her, and most likely a lot of us non-black people. It was ugly and vicious. It was about as unChristian as you can get short of bodily harm. It offended anyone with fair judgment and honest heart. I am convinced that Pfleger apologized only when it became obvious that his partisan verbal slashing was going to backlash on his beloved Obama. When has he ever apologized in the past for his bombastic attacks on white people?

The performance on the stage at Trinity was not an exception, but the norm for Father Pfleger. For those who are familiar with Pfleger, his history of radical extremism and abuse of his pulpit privileges are historic and pervasive. Though white, he is a promoter of black liberation theology, often a theological euphemism for racial hatred in the name of God. He uses the same sort of religious contortions that had those long-ago southern white pastors (and a few still hanging around) denouncing the God-given humanity of blacks – using the burning symbol of a loving Christ to convey fear and hatred.

To add a weirdness to his viewpoints, Pfleger takes pride in mimicking the extreme edge of the flamboyant style of black ministers. His imitation is so complete, it borders on psychotic. He channels the most radical black preachers. Pfleger’s black “act” is so out of context with his white boyish looks and carefully coifed blond hair that unless you listen to the scurrilous content of his homilies you might think it a Saturday Night Live skit.

In his ethnic self hatred, Pfleger allies in common cause and friendship with the likes of Louis Farrakhan (left). Like Jeremiah Wright, Pfleger embraces and promotes the misguided Muslim minister. Instead of repudiating Farrakhan, Pfleger praises him and invites him to desecrate the sanctuary of St. Sabina’s with his racist rhetoric. Pfleger finds it impossible to call out anyone who speaks ill of the white community.

I am also more than a little bothered by the reaction of the congregation at Trinity. The congregation’s chortles, guffaws and amens to Pfleger’s message of racial animosity were almost as offensive as the Muslims dancing in the streets as the New York Trade Towers crumbled. After years of Pastor Wright, it would appear that those in the pews have been so drawn to, or indoctrinated by, the extreme preaching of racial victimization at the hands of the evil white majority that they cannot see the wrongness of Wright and Pfleger. It is chilling to think that until recent days the potential President of the United States was among them in holy communion.

What seems to bridge racial lines, however, are the many infamous ministers in America — black, white, Christian, Muslim, Jew – who seem to be the most out of touch with a loving God. Preachers of this ilk seem to find large congregations who prefer to have their prejudices comforted rather than challenged.

I am not sure how much harm Pfleger does to Obama. The candidate does not have the two-decade intimate relationship with Pfleger the he once claimed to have “treasured” with Pastor Wright. He did not spend Sunday after Sunday at the foot of Pfleger’s pulpit. On the other hand, they have been close friends and comrades-in-arms since Obama first appeared on the civic/political scene. Pfleger has been a donor to Obama campaigns. Until recently (post Wright flare up), he served as an official advisor to the campaign. He can be listed, along with Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko, as another close and influential friend who has become radio active — who raises legitimate concern about Obama’s friendships of choice.

There are a goodly number of godly black ministers, and Martin Luther King can be looked at as the role model. King preached consistently and forcefully against racial prejudice and hatred. He never found it necessary to seek justice through retribution. He never proposed inverting the scales of justice to compensate for past inequities. He never demanded special treatment as compensation for past injustice. He sought mutual respect and equality. He envisioned a true post racial world in which the color of a person’s skin was irrelevant.

Credit where credit is due. Thanks to Obama, the issue of black racism and the historic politicization of the black churches has been drawn into the sunlight of public scrutiny. If there is to be a national discord on racism, this is not a bad place to start. Black racism is no longer the protectorate of political correctness. Amen, brother!