Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Can we please, finally, forgive Ted Kennedy?

May it be said of our Party in 1980 that we found our faith again.
And may it be said of us, both in dark passages and in bright days, in the words of Tennyson that my brothers quoted and loved, and that have special meaning for me now:
"I am a part of all that I have met
To [Tho] much is taken, much abides
That which we are, we are --
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end.
For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

Senator Edward Kennedy, Concession speech, August 12, 1980

I woke up this morning to the news I've been dreading for weeks now. Ted Kennedy, the Good Man of the Senate, has died. He has been on my mind a lot lately, as we wage this battle for the common good, because what I fear most now is that our progress will suffer badly without his counsel, without his presence.

For more than 40 years he has consistently been on the side of the people without power. As former senator Bob Kerrey said on "Morning Joe" today, "If you're getting the shaft, you ought to be weeping today because Ted Kennedy was your best friend."

The list of his accomplishments, the bills he worked so tirelessly to get passed, the people whose personal stories tell the tale of a man of high privilege coming to understand his role in the negation of human misery--are a part of our history we will never forget.

But no matter how much we would prefer to concentrate on the triumphs of his life, on the undeniable good he has done for his country, the specter of Chappaquiddick will never stop casting a long shadow over it all.

Already, this early in the morning, it comes up in the remembrances of those who knew him and are now before the cameras talking about his life.  It happened--we know it happened.  The facts are that Mary Jo Kopechne's life ended on July 18, 1969, after  drowning in a river on Chappaquiddick Island.  It was late at night and she was a passenger in a car driven by Sen. Edward Kennedy. They were heading toward the ferry to the mainland after a victory party when the car skidded off a bridge and crashed into the water. Kennedy survived, but Mary Jo didn't. She was just days away from her 29th birthday.

There is no question that Ted Kennedy panicked and swam across to the mainland, leaving Mary Jo in that car in that river.  Did he try to save her?  He says he did. He says he was going for help, but it was hours before anyone found the car with Mary Jo's body inside.

Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime, and there were a lot of us--maybe most of us--who wanted to see him, at the very least, serve time in jail.  His sentence was eventually suspended, a seemingly contemptuous judicial act that stunned us all. No punishment for running like a coward, allowing a young woman to die? Why? Because the rich and famous are exempt from having to pay for their sins?

For years I didn't want to ever hear the name Ted Kennedy again. For years I heard the stories of his drinking, his carousing, and I wondered how the good people of Massachusetts could go on electing him.

He ran for president against Jimmy Carter and campaigned badly. Again, we counted him out.  Then he gave his concession speech, his "the dream shall never die" speech, on the night of Jimmy Carter's primary victory. There were a number of us in the room that night watching the returns, but I can still remember how quiet it was as we listened to the final moments of his speech. I remember that none of us expected much from him by that time so when he started we were barely listening. When it ended, we all looked at one another and someone said, "Why in God's name did he have to wait until now to give that speech?"

I've heard people say that he campaigned badly because, after Chappaquiddick, he felt deep down that he didn't deserve the presidency. I can't begin to look into Ted Kennedy's soul at the time, but after that defeat he was a different man. He went to work to fight for the causes his liberal heart told him were the most important, and he never looked back.
Already I'm seeing the hatred toward the Liberal Lion, the greatest senator of our times, bombarding the boards.  I won't repeat them here because I choose to celebrate Ted Kennedy's life.  It's a life that is ultimately deserving of praise.  Many of the people who are without a doubt going to go on the Hate Kennedy rampage today will laugh at the idea of a plea for forgiveness, but to forgive is not to forget. I'm not alone in wondering where Mary Jo's life would have taken her.  From all accounts, she was good, decent, smart, loving.  She was on Robert Kennedy's staff, even helping to write a speech he gave against the Vietnam War. Who knows what kind of career she would have chosen?  Where she would be today?

I've always wondered if it's possible that Ted Kennedy chose to give his life over to helping people who couldn't help themselves because the one time he might have actually saved a life, he failed.

It was the greatest act of repentance I think I've ever seen, and if I weep for Ted Kennedy today it is not for all the things that might have been, it is for all the things that were and now will be no more.


  1. Thank you. This is beautiful. I mourn with you. We forget that even our heroes are human beings, not black and white but shades of gray. A great man left us and we have big shoes to fill.

  2. Thank you for commenting, Jeanne. I can't think of anyone in the senate who can even come close to filling his shoes. He was one of a kind, respected by nearly everybody on both sides of the aisle.

    If we care about the uncompleted programs he was fighting for, like universal health care, I guess it's up to us to keep the flame lit.

    I'm getting tired but I'm still hanging in there!

  3. Never, for the millions of abortions he condoned. God will not either.

  4. Anonymous, (such a cowardly way to comment, by the way.)

    Your man Bush condoned those abortions, too, no matter what he said publicly. And so did every politician who has never actually fought AGAINST a woman's right to choose. The supreme court has left the decision alone, as well.

    Roe v Wade would have been overturned long ago if the Bushies had wanted it that way. They had unfettered power to do anything they wanted for eight long years.

    Using the word "God" in the same sentence where you make a judgment against forgiveness makes no sense.
    Your logic is so faulty, I can't believe you hit the "send" button before you thought about it.

    And the ironic part about your whole ignorant comment is that if you had needed any kind of help, Ted Kennedy, while he was alive, would have done everything in his power to help you.

  5. Ed Klein, former editor for Newsweek and New York Times Magazine, was a close personal friend of Ted Kennedy and decided to share some memories of the late Senator on The Diane Rehm Show.

    KLEIN: I don't know if you know this or not, but one of his favorite topics of humor was indeed Chappaquiddick itself. And he would ask people, "Have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?" That is just the most amazing thing. It's not that he didn't feel remorse about the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, but that he still always saw the other side of everything and the ridiculous side of things, too.

    How crass!

    Let's try to take away a positive lesson from Teddy's life. If Teddy has taught us anything it's that fat, drunk and liberal is no way to go through life.

    If we all could just reach one young person and head them off from the path of obese drunken liberalism, then Teddy's wasted life would have meaning to us all...instead of just the people who he got money for from our paychecks.

  6. I agree with 'anonymous' in regard to the abortion comment however, if he asked for forgiveness from God at the end and he was truly repentant for all the slaughter, he will be forgiven.

    All his drinking and womanizing mean nothing in comparison to the deaths of millions of babies. Had he been an atheist it would not matter but one cannot be both Catholic and pro-choice at the same time.

    Arrived here from DU by the way where they think Teddy was a saint no less.

  7. I mourn with you, too, Ramona--
    and how sad to see the people who can't wait to judge.

    I agree that invoking the word, 'God' and sitting in judgment do not mix. what is that Bible quote about beams and motes?

  8. Thanks Two Crows. The ignorant comments from the three above you are too stupid to even bother with.

    They couldn't possibly understand what a great man he was. But it really doesn't matter what they think. What matters is how many lives were enriched by Ted Kennedy.

    I can't imagine any lives being enriched by those three.

  9. You liberals never cease to amaze me. It's God's forgiveness that Teddy needsow that he's dead, not yours.
    Does it matter now that we forgive Kennedy? Your greater concern should be for his soul and what his answer will be when God says 'Now Teddy, about those abortions......?'
    God had a reason for creating those 50 million aborted babies, a purpose for the lives and as a Catholic Kennedy knew that. I wonder what his answer will be.........

  10. Maisie, it appears that you cannot forgive Ted Kennedy, and obviously my blog is not going to change your mind.

    Did you watch Sen. Kennedy's funeral? Did you hear what the priests had to say? If you didn't, you might want to find the transcripts. It might help you understand the meaning of forgiveness and repentance. If you're interested, that is.

  11. I hope I'm not stepping on your toes, Ramona, but I just can't resist answering Maisie, Stewie and Anonie.

    Edward Kennedy understood this passage-- as you obviously do not:
    "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me."

    Kennedy spent his entire life doing exactly what Matthew said the Christ Soul taught.

    What are you doing? Judging: something the Christ Soul admonished us not to do. Remember?

  12. Reflections on the Kennedy Funeral Mass
    Written by Luiz Sergio Solimeo
    Wednesday, September 2, 2009
    The Mass celebrated on August 29 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Roxbury, Mass. in memory of Senator Edward Moore Kennedy is rightly causing scandal among Catholics, who see it as a posthumous glorification of the deceased Massachusetts politician, as well as a resounding approval of his pro-abortion and pro-homosexual endeavors.

    Leaving aside the tumultuous life of the deceased, to pay homage to someone whose political action consistently opposed Catholic morals is a grave scandal, made even graver by the use of a liturgical ceremony for ideological and political ends.
    Gravity of the Sin of Scandal
    The sin of scandal is especially grave because of the evil it does to third parties, particularly the weak. The special gravity of the sin of scandal stems from its being the occasion for others to sin, often producing a loss of the faith and consequently causing the risk of eternal damnation.2

    Objectively, the public Mass for the deceased Senator Edward Kennedy is a scandal that places at risk the faith of many and strengthens the enemies of the Church. It suggests that a Catholic can publicly and continuously oppose Catholic doctrine, favor and even support positions opposed to Church teachings, and still continue to be seen as a Catholic in good standing and even worse, to deserve funeral honors of a head of state.

    In extremely grave times when one sees throughout the world an onslaught to impose laws, customs and practices diametrically opposed to Catholic morals and the natural law (including same-sex “marriage,” abortion and euthanasia), it is extremely sad and grave for religious authorities to glorify a politician whose public life was marked by ignorance of, and even contempt for, the teachings of the Church...snip
    At the same time as we pray for the repose of the soul of the late Senator Edward Moore Kennedy, we offer God reparation for the scandal caused by the funeral commemoration unduly held for him.
    much more Family Values

    I agree with this view

  13. Two Crows, I value your input. Don't ever feel that you're stepping on my toes by responding to any comments here. I especially appreciate the passage you've quoted, but somehow I don't think Maisie will feel the same.

    Now, Maisie. . .I researched your Luiz Sergio Solimeo, and I have to say, he's a very strange fellow who travels in very strange circles. Are you sure they're of this century? Or the last? Or the one before that?

    I found his article--the one you quoted on a website called The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.

    As noble as that sounds, a few minutes in their spaces tells me there is nothing "Christian" about their hateful Right Wing neocon garbage:

    It is a political action group set up solely to attack what they perceive as "liberalism", which means gay rights, abortion, feminism, (BIG TIME against feminism) and "modernism".

    Does this look like a religious website to you?

    Or this?

    Or this, clearing up the myth of "deadbeat dads" and the "hysterical propaganda" about domestic violence?

    Your guy Luiz is right out there spreading their hateful words:

    Believe what you want about those people, Maisie, but never, never confuse them with Jesus.

  14. thanks, Ramona.
    thanks twice.

    I'm as bad as a small boy when it comes to bath time. I planned to do it after swimming this morning but, suddenly, it was time to go visit friends. so I put it off.

    I planned to do it when I got home about noon-- but turned on the computer [surely the kiss of death] and put it off.

    then I read the links you posted above and ----- went and took my shower.
    so much hate.

  15. Two Crows, my heart was pounding and my stomach was literally churning as I gathered those links. I couldn't WAIT to get out of there.

    It's nauseating and horrifying to think there are people claiming to be Christians who follow that hate-filled garbage. They might as well be following the Ayatollahs in Iran.

  16. Ramona, with all due respect to your valiant effort to discredit the author of the article, he does not matter, I have no idea who he is or what he represents, he is of no consequence.
    What DOES matter however, is the message and the message is right on the money with regard to the teachings of the Catholic Church which Kennedy blatantly disregarded while at the same time asking his Holiness for forgiveness.
    Where in his letter to the pope did he ask for forgiveness of his support for the deaths of millions of unborn babies, knowing full well that abortion is abhorred by the Holy See?
    God forgives only those who truly repent from the heart.

  17. Maisie, you sent me on the road to reading that garbage. You found it somewhere and I doubt it was in the New York Times.

    Senator Kennedy received this blessing from the POPE:

    "The Pope replied through a Vatican official that he was saddened to know of Kennedy’s illness.

    “Commending you and the members of your family to the loving intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of wisdom, comfort and strength in the Lord.”

    You have to know that there are multitudes of Catholics who don't like the idea of abortion any more than you do, but they don't blame Ted Kennedy for every one of them; nor do they overlook the many good things he did throughout his public life.

    There is redemption through good works, and Ted Kennedy performed good works by the THOUSANDS.

    Those faux-Christian websites made me sick to my stomach. They spread hatred and intolerance and are the antithesis of the teachings of Jesus Christ. There are millions of children in this country who are suffering from hunger, from homelessness, from abuse. None of them were aborted. I hope all of you who are working so hard to fight abortion in this country are working doubly hard for universal health care, for improving public education, for wage equity and job security. And I hope you are working against the rich getting richer on the backs of the poor and middle class.

    Millions of children already born will thank you for your efforts--just as they've thanked Senator Ted Kennedy.

  18. EWTN News Director Raymond Arroyo

    The problem here is one of public witness and appearances- the corrupting example, the “objective situation of sin.” Even if Senator Kennedy privately confessed his unrelenting public support for abortion and embryonic stem cell research, didn’t he owe the public some correction? Shouldn’t he have offered them some last admonition that might have led them to the right path, assuming that he found it late in his life?

    Judgment remains the exclusive domain of God and no one should presume to know Senator Kennedy’s eternal destination.
    How his legacy of civil rights, supporting union causes, his defense of immigrants, his commitment to the poor, and his efforts to reduce war would have been morally enhanced had he coupled them with a defense of the most vulnerable members of society: the voiceless millions who have lost their lives to abortion. Unlike his sister Eunice, who tried to turn the Democratic party away from its attachment to abortion, Ted Kennedy pushed the party in the other direction. Throughout Kennedy’s funeral many attempted to brandish his poverty legislation or immigration reform as evidence that he had fulfilled his obligations as a Catholic legislator. A close reading of what Cardinal Ratzinger wrote shows that it clearly does not. As the Pope has recently written, the foundation of “social justice” and the heart of Catholic social teaching is the right to life. snip
    Sadly, it must be admitted that despite the good he did Senator Kennedy failed to at least publicly “respect the fundamental teachings of his faith” principally that the right to life is universal, God given, and all are obliged to defend it.
    The prayer intercessions at the funeral mass, the endless eulogies, the image of the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston reading prayers, and finally Cardinal McCarrick interring the remains sent an uncontested message: One may defy Church teaching, publicly lead others astray, deprive innocent lives of their rights, and still be seen a good Catholic, even an exemplary one.
    As a final desperate attempt to stamp the imprimatur of the Pope upon the funereal proceedings, Cardinal McCarrick read what he called the “Pope’s response” to Senator Kennedy. Actually it was a note, very likely from the Secretariat of State. This is the sort of thing any member of laity receives when they send a prayer request or a Christmas card to the Pope. snip.
    The Pope issued no public statement upon the death of Ted Kennedy. Nor did he release any public letter to the family as he did, appropriately, when Kennedy’s sister, the very pro-life Eunice Kennedy-Shriver died several weeks ago. The Vatican newspaper did report Ted Kennedy’s passing and noted with displeasure his support of abortion rights. At least one Vatican official was quoted over the weekend, saying: “Here in Rome Ted Kennedy is nobody. He’s a legend with his own constituency. If he had influence in the past it was only with the Archdiocese of Boston and that eventually disappeared too.”
    What most in the media and the public fail to recognize is that this entire spectacle—the Catholic funeral trappings and the wall to wall coverage-- was only partially about Ted Kennedy. It was truly about cementing the impression, indeed catechizing the faithful, that one can be a Catholic politician, and so long as you claim to care about the poor, you may licitly ignore the cause of life. The “Common Ground” argument was reinforced this weekend—the notion that supporting a host of “social justice” initiatives somehow cancels out or trumps the “grave”, “intrinsic” evil of abortion and the Catholic commitment to the life issues. As the Pope has described in his letter of 2004, and subsequently, this is an untenable position no matter how many “pro-choice” Catholics on the right or the left attempt to make it.

    May Edward Kennedy Rest in Peace and in Mercy.
    read more

  19. Maisie, I found that article especially disturbing. Sen. Kennedy was not solely or even partially responsible for the number of abortions in this country, yet that seems to be the only issue any of those people can focus on. The writer even claims that helping the poor isn't enough. It's a hate campaign against one Edward M. Kennedy, and nothing more.

    George W. Bush was responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 of our U.S. military by putting them in harm's way in a war he manufactured out of thin air. He stood in the way of every program that might have given aid and comfort to millions of sick, dying, poor and middle class citizens. He did nothing about abortion in the eight years he was in office. When he dies, will your bunch go on the same hate crusade against him? No need to answer, I already know.

    I'll say this again, in case you missed it:
    There are millions of children in this country who are suffering from hunger, from homelessness, from abuse. None of them were aborted. I hope all of you who are working so hard to fight abortion in this country are working doubly hard for universal health care, for improving public education, for wage equity and job security. And I hope you are working against the rich getting richer on the backs of the poor and middle class.


I welcome your input and want to keep this as open as possible, so I will watch for and delete comments that are spam, vicious or obscene. Trolls not welcome. We're all adults here.