IN THE edited correspondence between Senator Kennedy and Pope Benedict XVI, the proverbial elephant in the room - abortion - went unmentioned (“As night fell, burial - and revelation,’’ Page A1, Aug. 30). Senator Kennedy, while admitting to being “imperfect,’’ turned a significant portion of his letter into something of a resume outlining his accomplishments and efforts at passing social legislation.
Kennedy was known for studying and understanding the minutiae of any bill passing through the legislative process. I have to believe he was aware of the Catholic Church’s position as it related to what the church saw were his responsibilities as a legislator.
When Catholics are elected to public office, they take their consciences with them. Pope John Paul II consistently taught this as, for example, when he said that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a “grave and clear obligation to oppose’’ any law that attacks human life. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has declared that, “in this context, it must be noted also that a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.’’
Senator Kennedy obviously had the ability to compartmentalize a great deal of his private and public life. However, if he believed what his Catholic faith taught, more of his letter to the pope should have expressed his hope for God’s mercy and less space given to list his accomplishments.
Paul M. Blake