The Vatican’s silence spoke volumes this week.
There was no official comment from Pope Benedict on the death of Teddy Kennedy.
The Examiner reported:
The late Ted Kennedy was brother to the United States’ only Catholic president. He received his first Communion from Pope Pius XII, and was married by the Archbishop of New York. He championed social causes such as civil rights and combatting poverty that reflect the teachings of Pope Benedict, as expressed in the pontiff’s recent encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” And, when Obama visited Pope Benedict in July, the U.S. president delivered a sealed correspondence from Kennedy to the pope, the contents of which are unknown (speculation is that the letter was the dying Kennedy’s request for a papal blessing).
And yet, upon the death of the senator, there has been no official comment from the Holy Father. The elephant in the room is, of course, abortion, as well as Kennedy’s other controversial political positions within the Church. He became the face of the liberal wing of the Democratic party, which, aside from abortion, diverged from Church teachings on issues including embryonic stem cell research and gay marriage. According to a report from TIME.com, a veteran official at the Vatican, of U.S. nationality, asked: “Why would he even write a letter to the Pope? The Kennedys have always been defiantly in opposition to the Roman Catholic magisterium.”
…And so, the pope stands in a difficult position. While he seems to want to remain open to the Democratic president, the pontiff may not want to appear as condoning the pro-choice (and pro-gay rights) stance of the Democratic party’s left wing. Then again, the pope’s silence on Kennedy’s death may be less complex. As the Vatican official in the TIME article summarized: “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.”