Tom McFeely is the National Catholic Register’s News Editor. He lives in British Columbia.
The late Sen. Edward Kennedy didn’t say he would fight to ensure there would be no mandate for abortion funding in the health-care reform bill now before Congress, in the letter he wrote to Pope Benedict XVI that was hand-delivered to the Pope by President Barack Obama in early July.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, read excerpts from the letter at Kennedy’s Aug. 29 burial service at Arlington National Cemetery.
The omission of comments regarding abortion is all the more glaring, given that Kennedy stated in the letter that health-care reform is “the political cause of my life” and pledged specifically, “I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field, and I’ll continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone.”
But as a leader of the congressional drive for reform, Kennedy knew that while conscience protection is a key pro-life priority in the reform process, ensuring there is no taxpayer funding of abortion is an even bigger priority.
Kennedy’s failure to say anything about that in his letter highlighted once again the biggest blot on his legislative legacy as a Catholic U.S. senator: his decades of pro-abortion advocacy, in direct opposition to the teachings of the Church.