On July 29, 1997, a representative philosophe of our abortion culture, retired Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, was lavishly eulogized in St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where the Requiem Mass for President Kennedy had been sung in 1963. Richard Cardinal Cushing was relatively constrained back then, because liturgical depredations had not yet switched into high gear. It was not thus when President Clinton, who vetoed the ban on partial-birth abortions, was permitted to announce to all corners of the cathedral for consumption in all corners of the world: “Brennan’s America is America at its best.” That is, internecine America is at its best with 39 million fewer children than would have been born were it not for Brennan’s eisegesis of the Constitution. Attorney General Janet Reno later said in a speech to the American Bar Association that the honors paid to Brennan in St. Matthew’s Cathedral inspired her to go on.
As Dr. Johnson conceded, in lapidary inscriptions no man is upon oath. To avoid testing this protocol in the sanctuary where only truth is to be spoken, eulogies were discouraged in more honest days when even romanticized charlatans and avuncular Caligulas could be buried, but with the crepe of contrition. Since Americans became persuaded that God is a Butterfly, funerals have started to resemble Jeanette Macdonald’s airy obsequies at Forest Lawn Cemetery in 1965, with canaries warbling fantasias in gilded cages. Nature had revenge when the canaries were released and dropped dead on the heads of mourners, victims of hot air and manifest incontinence. No such favor was granted on July 29 in St. Matthew’s Cathedral when a priest asked from the pulpit: “How does a young man, son of immigrants, rise to such a position of judicial pre-eminence, with almost the entire government present to honor him on the day of his burial?” It would have been lovely if St. Thomas More had dropped from Heaven right then. A brief glimpse of the saint’s head would have been a sufficient reply.
From Crisis magazine, November 1997. Regretfully, not much has changed, as we recently witnessed with the recent beatification of Senator Ted Kennedy.