Speaking of the recent funeral of Senator Edward Kennedy, the Archbishop of Boston, Sean Cardinal O’Malley, endeavors to defend his participation in the event — to which Fr. John Zuhlsdorf provides a helpful fisking. On the Archbishop’s own blog there are already 100+ comments from readers — the first comment by “Grace” will suffice, and indicates my thoughts exactly:
Of course Senator Kennedy should have been afforded a Catholic funeral. And I had no problem with you being there.
If you read what has been written about this Mass of Christian Burial, however, I think what you will find is that the bulk of the criticism out here is not directed at your participation, but at the way in which Senator Kennedy was canonized at the funeral and the way in which certain aspects of the funeral were politicized.
The purpose of a Mass of Christian Burial is the pray for the soul of the deceased and to bring to mind the hope we have in the Risen Christ. Period. It is not to be a celebration of the life of the deceased, no matter what pop culture and contemporary praxis seems to say.
In watching the funeral closely, there was no sense of this. It was all about Kennedy, all the time. The homilist effectively canonized him, picturing him in heaven. The General Intercessions, in particular, were a rather shocking politicization of the moment.
I don’t think anyone but the most inveterate Kennedy-hater would have expressed any objections to the funeral or your participation in it if the rite had been respected for what it has traditionally been about – praying for the soul of the departed, prayers that we will all need.