Yesterday, our beloved auxiliary bishop, Carl Moeddel, went to his eternal reward. Today, the longtime, famous senior Senator of Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy, went to his. I have no idea how God will judge either; I hope for mercy for my own soul and for theirs as well.
Bishop Moeddel was much loved; he had a common touch and was warm--he liked and enjoyed being with people. I remember him both as a presence in the seminary--he lived there while I was there--and especially because I received the sacrament of holy orders through him, insofar as he ordained me a deacon. He ate meals with us at the seminary and everyone enjoyed talking with him. He was a parish pastor for many years before he became a bishop, a fact I appreciate more, now, than I ever did as a seminarian. Many remember him for using a good amount of chrism when he administered confirmation, for being cheerful and and engaging. I remember him helping me out at Mass, when the thurible gave me trouble, and I recall him saying in a homily one time: "you don't have to come to Sunday Mass--on one condition: that you have nothing for which you are grateful."
There is much talk of Senator Ted Kennedy's legacy. As someone who worked in politics, I delighted in opposing him on nearly everything, and I respected his skill and effectiveness. The causes he trumpeted have had few better advocates. I admit his rhetoric could be so stirring--what a gift he had! I'm so sorry he used it for so many terrible causes.
One of his singular accomplishments--among others--must be the defeat of Judge Robert Bork as a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Perhaps he would have been defeated anyway; but I think Kennedy may well have tipped it. As a result of his success in that matter, there is almost no question this saved Roe v. Wade--which imposed abortion on demand on all 50 states--from being overturned. Kennedy, as much as anyone, ensured the continuation of abortion-on-demand to the present day.
We might recall that at one time, early in his political career, Sen. Kennedy was prolife. He wrote a stirring letter--which you can find on the Internet if you want--condemning legal abortion and vowing to defend both mother and child. One wonders what might have been had Kennedy kept to that path.