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A response to Fr. Gerard Moloney’s attack

October 9, 2009

At first, yes, I was angry: accused of taking a position on an important ecclesiastical matter that I never took, and in fact, one I had repeatedly argued against!

Next, I was sad, sad that a Catholic priest and religious, editor of what I assume is a respected Catholic publication, would so meanly rebuke another in obvious disregard for what that other had actually said on the matter.

But finally, as the cleric parlayed his gross mistakes about my alleged position on Ted Kennedy’s funeral into an attempt to cast blame on folks like me for — are you ready this? — the Irish clergy and religious child sexual abuse scandal (!), I ran out of emotions, and now feel, I dunno, nothing.

Editorializing in the October issue of Reality magazine Fr. Gerard Moloney, cssr, rips those who opposed the decision to grant Ted Kennedy a Catholic funeral.* Says Moloney, “Not only did [funeral critics] not agree with Ted Kennedy’s politics or like him as a man, they didn’t want him to have a Catholic funeral. They didn’t think he was entitled to it.” Or again, “Those who criticised the decision to give Senator Edward Kennedy a Catholic funeral not only don’t know a lot about being a Catholic, they know very little about being Christian.” Or yet again, in referring to protest emails sent to the Redemptorist basilica that hosted Kennedy’s funeral, Moloney describes them as “not only angry, they were hate-filled; they dripped with righteous indignation.”

I was beginning to wonder just who’s writing with contempt for others when, to my amazement, I saw myself presented as Moloney’s poster boy of his evil “holier-than-thous”! According to quotes from Moloney’s editorial, I apparently figure prominently among those who claimed that Ted Kennedy was not entitled to a Catholic funeral and who criticized the decision to grant him one.

So, I ask Fr. Moloney: did you read what I wrote about the Kennedy funeral question?

I defended — repeatedly defended, Father — Ted Kennedy’s right to a Catholic funeral here, here, here, here, here, and here. I defended Teddy’s right to Catholic funeral despite his chronic, scandalous abandonment of innocent babies to abortionism and despite several events in his life that cast grave doubts on his prudence and truthfulness. I defended Teddy’s funeral rights against attractive arguments offered by several respected pro-life leaders that Teddy’s repentance of his scandalous behavior should have been “more public”. Against these reasonable adversaries, I argued that, under Church law and based on public news reports, Kennedy had offered signs considered sufficient under canon law for him to be accorded a Catholic funeral.

How can you possibly say or even imply otherwise about me, Fr. Moloney?

Even in my criticisms of how Kennedy’s funeral liturgy was actually conducted, criticisms I stand by, I reiterated my defense of Teddy’s basic right to funeral under canon law! Characterize my opinions on the liturgy itself any way you want, Father (I’m content to let readers decide for themselves whether I was “so sanctimonious, so judgmental, so self-righteous. Not much charity or compassion there,” etc.), but do not accuse me of objecting to the grant of a Catholic funeral to Ted Kennedy or of holding Kennedy responsible for how his funeral was conducted, because I didn’t. For that matter, every word I wrote on Teddy’s funeral was public. I sent no emails, nasty other otherwise, to the Redemptorists. Ever. So, how can you publicly tar me with the blame you feel is deserved by people who expressed their opinions — perhaps rudely, I have no way of knowing — in personal messages to your co-religionists?

(Careful, Ed, you’re working your way back up to angry here. Deep breath time.)

Okay, let’s put everything up to this point off to one side. There’s still one more matter to address.

Moloney’s reckless characterization of me as an opponent of Kennedy’s funeral disintegrates, finally, into what I can only term the ludicrous when he goes on (I can’t believe I reporting this) to blame me and mine for, of all things, the Irish clergy and religious sexual abuse crisis! Yes, you read that correctly: according to Moloney, the people who objected to Ted Kennedy’s funeral and/or the blatant way it was politicized are the same kind of people whose “theology” lay behind the decades of sexual abuse committed against children by Irish Catholic priests and religious!

Don’t believe me? Per another news article on Moloney’s piece: “Referring to the Ryan Report [on the Irish clergy and religious child abuse scandal], Fr. Moloney says that in Ireland we are still trying to understand how those events could have happened and what warped theology lay behind them. In his view, the theology responsible was a ‘theology of condescension, of arrogance, without compassion or heart, that saw the speck in other people’s eyes while being blind to the plank in one’s own.'”

What can one say in reply to a priest who thinks that way, let alone to one who would publish something like that? + + +

* I asked [October 9] Reality magazine for a copy of Moloney’s editorial, an electronic version being sufficient. I have not yet received one and so I react only to quotations from Moloney’s piece. . . . As of December 3, I still have not been provided a copy, in any format, of Moloney’s editorial. Maybe it’s coming ordinary post, ya think?

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