Senator Edward Kennedy: Resilient? Yes. Devout? Not exactly.

The latest news reports indicate that Senator Edward Kennedy will receive the high honor of being laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery alongside the earthly remains of authentic American heroes who gave their lives in service to their country.

No one in authority asked me if this an appropriate exclamation point to the seventy-seven year statement that is Kennedy’s earthly life, but just in case anyone was wondering; I would say that it may be more fitting to bury the former Massachusetts senator at sea.

More specifically; I’m thinking of a private, if not secretive, late night send-off during which the senator could be unceremoniously interred beneath the chilly waters of Poucha Pond near the coast of Chappaquiddick while strapped into the passenger seat of a 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88.

This may sound unnecessarily harsh, I know, especially in juxtaposition to the tenor of the typical mainstream media’s quasi-canonization of Kennedy under the guise of an obituary.

I am, of course, not being entirely serious. A ’67 Olds, after all, is a collectors’ item these days.

I do, however, wish to illustrate the stark difference between the posthumous portrait being painted of Edward Kennedy in much of the media and the life the man actually lived. Don’t let the revisionist eulogizers fool you; Teddy Kennedy is no icon of honorable statesmanship, much less is he the image of devout Catholicism.

Edward Moore Kennedy gained entrance into the United States Senate by way of the back door; taking up the post vacated by his brother, John, who had been elected to the presidency. The deed itself, however, was accomplished only after a family friend conspired to keep the seat warm until Teddy, then 28, reached the constitutionally required minimum age of 30 at which point the faux heir-by-proxy stepped down as agreed so that nepotism could have its day.

With the benefit of the family franchise and a gift-wrapped incumbent’s advantage, Teddy became a veritable fixture in the Senate chamber over a career that spanned five decades. Not bad, I suppose, for a man who was expelled from Harvard in 1951 for cheating on an exam.

If nothing else, Ted was resilient.

After a sixteen month stint in the Army, Kennedy (or someone close to him) somehow managed to convince Harvard that he deserved re-admission. This time, Ted would graduate en route to a law degree from University of Virginia. Like I said, the man was resilient.

This, however, is nothing as compared to the uncanny ability to avoid accountability that he would demonstrate roughly a decade and a half later.

In the waning hours of July 18, 1969, Ted requested the car keys from his personal driver and left a party on the Martha’s Vineyard island of Chappaquiddick with a young female companion, Mary Jo Kopechne, who was eight days shy of her twenty-ninth birthday.

Before reaching his destination, Kennedy lost control of his automobile and drove off of a bridge. The car plunged into Poucha Pond and overturned before coming to rest under the water. Ted, resilient man that he was, managed to extricate himself from the wreckage and swim to safety.

The honorable senator from Massachusetts then fled the accident scene leaving behind the daughter of Joseph and Gwen Kopechne; trapped inside the submersed wreckage of the Oldsmobile Delmont 88 that would become her death chamber.

Another ten hours would pass before Ted would speak of the accident to authorities and only then after the wreckage was discovered.

Even in today’s world in which sleazy political figures from Massachusetts routinely wear their indiscretions like badges of honor, this is breathtaking.

A character flaw such that the perennially entitled Edward Kennedy demonstrated at Chappaquiddick would deal a fatal blow to the aspirations of any would-be public servant, but not this man. The resilient Ted Kennedy would emerge from the waters of Poucha Pond to continue his tenure in the United States Senate for more years than Mary Jo Kopechne had even lived; thirty.

If in death Edward Kennedy is forced to confront the souls of those, like Mary Jo Kopechne, whose earthly life he personally had a hand in cutting short; it’s going to be a crowded affair indeed.

Even after he demonstrated a chilling disregard for the life of a young woman in the Chappaquiddick incident, Kennedy still maintained that “the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life.”

In spite of these sentiments expressed in 1971, Kennedy would ultimately do an about face thereby endearing himself to the powerful abortion lobby and solidifying his place in the United States Senate as a member of the Democrat party. At his death he was widely considered one of the abortion industry’s staunchest Congressional advocates.

That necessarily meant that he also stood on the wrong side of a self-created chasm separating himself from the faith he professed to hold.

Even so, USA Today like many other media outlets has anointed Kennedy “a devout Catholic,” one who “clung to his religion’s belief in the potential for human redemption.”

While it seems like common courtesy to speak kindly of the dead, in this case, it’s even kinder to be plainly honest.

Based upon the witness of the life he lived in the public eye, Edward Kennedy wasn’t particularly honorable. He wasn’t exactly the embodiment of the kind of statesmanship that would make our Founding Fathers proud. And most importantly of all, he wasn’t even close to being the face of devout Catholicism.

Though the particulars are always unique, Ted Kennedy was far more like the rest of us than we’d probably like to admit; a sinner who in death stands in need of our prayers of petition now more than ever.

By canonizing Ted Kennedy with inflated claims of a life well lived, the media and others are not only besmirching the good name of the Church, they are potentially robbing him of the merciful deeds he most certainly needs from those who really are devout Catholics.

Let us hope and pray that Ted did yet one more about face and availed himself of Divine Mercy before it was too late.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O’ Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.

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  • jchartwpb

    What do you gain from your suggested burial plan, a few laughs? To be critical of his actions in life is your perogative but to suggest such disrespect is hateful. Is your cup clean on the inside as well as the outside?

  • yblegen

    Thanks for expressing what I was thinking. Had he lived his Catholic faith, authentically, he could have made a positive difference. I wonder if he also looks upon the children whose lives were prematurely cut short because he didn’t have the the guts to stand against the abortion lobby.

  • neiders

    I have been sitting here wondering how a divorced and remarried “catholic” gets a funeral Mass? the remarried part is where the question arises-in charity, I will conclude that his prior long standing, multi-child marriage was annuled?
    If that is even possible-
    It is no wonder the term “devoute catholic” is applied so loosely with this going on, it’s no wonder that the press applies this to basically anyone who ever was catholic in spite of their anti-Catholic teaching stances on abortion, homosexual marriage etc.
    i think this would certainly classify as “scandal” in the Church definition, and of course the Bishop up there, goes along with it all
    It’s an embarrassment

  • goral

    The view from down under is so breathtakingly refreshing that it made me squirm in my seat. The obituary that you so eloquently present, Mr. Verrecchio, is nothing short of horrific. The man was a demagogic disgrace. Only the great equalizer – death puts an end to such shenanigans.

    The prayers of all faithful Catholics should go with our wayward brother because that is our faith. When God looks at us from “up over” he sees pretty much the same thing – nothing but sinners in need of Redemption.

    Never forget however, that we the sinners must ask the Lord for forgiveness, that’s what allows Him to pull us out of the abyss.
    The late Senator now turned saint never did, to my knowledge he never did so publicly and he was a publican. The pretense is over; the author’s last sentence says it all.

    Before I say: Amen, let me just add that the resilient one had a lot of help from constituents cut from the same cloth – those who are still resilient and living.
    They don’t have to wait for the earth to purge their sins. They can atone for damning indiscretion by voting in someone who will be somewhat deserving of the title – honorable.
    Amen!

  • http://www.saintjanedechantal.com/site/OurParish/DeaconsCorner/DeaconDonBourgeois/tabid/188/Default. Deacon Don Bourgeois

    I never agreed with Kennedy but he has already been judged for his actions as he stood before Jesus Christ who we will all answer to. That is good enough for me. It is not my place to judge him are the Bishops who have looked the other way, I have enough to worry about when my time comes to face our Lord.

  • dennisofraleigh

    The Kennedy family story has all the makings of a Greek tragedy.
    Treachery, duplicity, political ambition and tragic and untimely death have marked this dynasty almost from the beginning. Ted Kennedy’s career in politics was no exception.
    But “devout” Catholic? Ted made noises like he was a “devout” Catholic, but in the context of being a Kennedy (and all that that entailed) we have to realize that much of that was posturing for the benefit of his loyal Catholic Massachusetts contituency, who have been sending him back to the Senate since the mid-1960′s (Ted’s position on abortion, notwithstanding). Ted was loyal to the Church and Her teachings to the degree they coincided with his political philosopy. But “statesman?” Were any of the Kennedy sons ever thought of as “statesmen?” Hardly. They were “the Kennedy brothers”: Jack, Bobby and Ted. May they all rest in peace.

  • goral

    Burying Kennedy at sea is only borderline humorous. The man had a maritime leisure life. The Arlington burial is far more out of order and an act of disrespect to the honorable souls who are reposed there.

    Who are we to judge the guys motives and life? That statement and others like it have given us the moral clarity of the Kennedy’s, the church scandal, abortion on demand, the murder of Teri Shiavo, Madonna concerts, internet porn and the loss of countless souls.

    The malfunctioning moral compass of “devout” catholics is hard to take but when an attitude such as that comes out of the hierarchy of the Church then we the faithful must speak up, it is our duty; our life and the life of the Church depend on it.

    The Protestants and others can do fine in their meeting houses without an alter or Ministers. We can not, we must have deacons and priests and bishops who uphold the Apostolic orthodoxy of the Church.
    For those who don’t take their commission seriously, step away. Join the Kennedy’s, Kerry’s and Pelosi’s at the beach or at the bar or on the boat.

  • LarryW2LJ

    I am glad I am not in the position of judge or arbiter; as I would have a very difficult time finding on behalf of Mr. Kennedy. I hope to God that through the trial of his illness; that he sought God’s forgiveness. My experience has been that sometimes Catholics who go out on a limb in oppostion to the Magesterium remain steadfastly obstinate, even until the end. On the possibility that it might have done some good, I have said a Divine Mercy chaplet on his behalf.

  • eire245

    I am glad to see there is a least one other comment of admonishment for this author. If you are chastizing Sen Kennedy for his sins, and pronouncing judgement on him, then please proceed to do the same to yourself. It is sinful
    to be this uncharitable, and utter such criticism on a public website that is supposed to be “Catholic”…..Have you also uttered similar judgements and
    suggestions to many others in the Church who have injured and caused irreparable
    harm (i will not specify further)…No, I am sure you advocate to pray for them and forgive………..That is what we are called to do. If God needs any help
    in the judgement department,maybe he will let you know, until then be
    CHRISTIAN, don’t just talk about it. I will pray for you.

  • elkabrikir

    As soon as I heard that Kennedy died I prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for his soul with some of my children. I initiated the prayer for Kennedy’s soul as the divine remedy for my own thoughts regarding the man.

    I’m glad he’s gone. There, I’ve said it.

    Now he can do no more temporal damage. Good riddance to bad rubbage!

    That said, I don’t wish hell on him at all. I will face the same Just Judge as he faced. “The measure with which you measure, will be measured out to you.”

    God didn’t allow the “RIch man who stepped over the poor man, Lazurus every day” to leave hell and warn his brothers that the prophets were indeed correct. Perhaps God’s mysterious grace will permeate those of us left such that we recognize and repent of our sins.

    This article exhibit’s true charity for Kennedy, despite its bitterly honest tone. The author knows that we all need prayers, yet who prays for the soul of a saint? Even one who killed somebody while in a drunken stupor?

    Yes, Eternal rest grant unto him, O’ Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.

    CE, thanks for running the first honest article I’ve seen yet on the subject.

  • plowshare

    Getting specific about public repentance, etc.:

    Did Kennedy ever vote in favor of the ban on partial-birth abortion? or have any kind words for it? Even Father Drinian did the latter, although it took the personal involvement of then-Cardinal Ratzinger to “convince” him to do it.

    Did Kennedy ever resign his membership in the Knights of Columbus on the grounds that its pro-life position is diametrically opposed to his own on abortion?

    Did Kennedy vote for the federal Born-Alive Infant Protection Act–the act that was identical with the Illinois version (except for it being written for federal lands rather than for the State of Illinois) that Obama zealously campaigned against?

  • jgbuff

    I contemplated this article for a long time, then I realized what a judgemental disrespectful article it was to the dead. I found myself hating a man and judging him as I read it. As a catholic christian I feel ashamed for that, there is no love or prayers in this article. Ted Kennedy definately sinned like we all have. We all fall short. However, I would rather see the glass as half full, he knew he was dieing over a long period of time. I would like to think that in that time he reconciled with God through the sacrement of reconcilliation or the through the sacrement of healing, which also cleanses ones soul. This knowlege is Gods alone. WE ARE NOT THE JUDGE. I pray for the repose of his soul.

  • guitarmom

    I note that the author of this article is an Australian.

    In his defense, there are strong cultural differences between Australians and Americans regarding death. It is not uncommon for an Aussie to make jokes about the dead, in particular what should or might have been done with the deceased’s body. These jokes may sound harsh to an American ear, but our culture treats death much more softly than is done Down Under.

    So, as a former resident of that “sunburnt country,” I hope that American readers will give this Australian author a bit of a pass.

  • wgsullivan

    Seems to be a bit of misunderstanding concerning judgment of actions and judgment of the soul. We all judge actions every day. Ever been disgusted with the drunken workmate at the Christmas party? How about the lazy co-worker? Our court system makes judgments concerning actions every time it works as it should.
    Ted had acted poorly, guiltily, and scandalously. Being a very public figure, Ted’s bar was a bit higher. Ted never publicly recanted.
    I believe a few articles like these, need be. Simply to balance all the canonizations taking place in other articles.

  • m7wij

    Would that his death actually represented the passing of an era, not the continuation of a holocaust that has surpassed those perpetrated by Hitler and Stalin. May God have mercy as we have not seen from the senator.

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