Frances Kissling Mourns Ted Kennedy

Catholics for a free choice

Frances Kissling, former head of pro-abort Catholics For a Free Choice, mourns the passing of abortion champion Ted Kennedy here.

“On the right to choose abortion, he was fully pro-choice. He supported the right of women who got their medical care from the government whether they were federal employees, in the military or on Medicaid to the same right of conscience that women with their own money or private insurance have.  And, on every other issue related to reproductive health and rights, he voted for women.

How did this happen in this big, very pious Catholic family?  Theology played a part but Kennedy boys by and large did not go to Catholic schools. They went to the top prep schools and to Harvard. Ted spent only the eighth grade at a Jesuit prep school and went on to the Milton Academy. Had he gone to Catholic schools in the 1940 and 50′s abortion would not have been mentioned — it simply was not an issue much before it started to become legal in the late 60′s in the US. But there is something to be said for a good secular education in terms of developing respect for diversity.

Of course, the Kennedys had access to the best theological insights of the times and they used it. I remember the late Giles Milhaven, a former Jesuit priest and theologian who served on the Catholics for Choice board, describing some days in 1970 he spent at the Kennedy compound discussing abortion with members of the family. The theologians at the meeting included Joseph Fuchs, who had served on the Papal Commission on Birth Control and chaired the committee’s majority report; Richard McCormick, who is recognized as one of the founders of modern bio-ethics, then Catholic University star Charles Curran. Albert Jonsen, a then Jesuit bioethicist, and Father Drinan, who was Dean of Boston College Law School, rounded out the team. According to Giles, the moral theologians and priests met together for a while and then were joined by the Kennedys and Shrivers who asked questions. Ted Kennedy had the good fortune to engage in discourse about abortion and Catholicism before the papacy of John Paul II virtually closed the window on the lively debate that was going on among theologians about abortion.

None of these experts thought the act of abortion was a moral good and they varied in their opinions on when if ever it was morally justified – but they were clear that Catholic legislators could vote to make abortion legal. The Shrivers never agreed and Eunice and Sarge were active early on anti-abortion efforts. Ted, who at that time expressed anti-abortion views but had not needed to vote on the issue, came around to the pro-choice position by the time the first Senate votes on abortion were required following Roe v. Wade. The first issue was whether federal Medicaid funds could be used for abortion, and the Senator was always in favor of such funding. Perhaps he understood the preferential option for the poor to be determinant; perhaps he simply saw the tragedy that surrounded very poor and very young women forced to have children they did not want. Perhaps those theologians, whose arguments were dismissed in a blogger’s short take on the Senator’s death in America as “weak then and weaker now” had some influence on the liberal lion.”

I can understand why a pro-abort “Catholic” mourns Kennedy.  It escapes me why any other Catholic should.

9 Responses to Frances Kissling Mourns Ted Kennedy

  • At the risk of being repetitive, the third paragraph needs emphasis:

    Of course, the Kennedys had access to the best theological insights of the times and they used it. I remember the late Giles Milhaven, a former Jesuit priest and theologian who served on the Catholics for Choice board, describing some days in 1970 he spent at the Kennedy compound discussing abortion with members of the family. The theologians at the meeting included Joseph Fuchs, who had served on the Papal Commission on Birth Control and chaired the committee’s majority report; Richard McCormick, who is recognized as one of the founders of modern bio-ethics, then Catholic University star Charles Curran. Albert Jonsen, a then Jesuit bioethicist, and Father Drinan, who was Dean of Boston College Law School, rounded out the team. According to Giles, the moral theologians and priests met together for a while and then were joined by the Kennedys and Shrivers who asked questions. Ted Kennedy had the good fortune to engage in discourse about abortion and Catholicism before the papacy of John Paul II virtually closed the window on the lively debate that was going on among theologians about abortion.

    Truly, this is one of the most disgraceful incident in the history of Catholicism in America — as the supposed best and brightest minds in Catholic academia gathered the plot the slaughter of millions. It takes a truly Dante-an sense to describe the evil of the gathering described above — and of someone who is prepared to celebrate it or its members.

  • The first issue was whether federal Medicaid funds could be used for abortion, and the Senator was always in favor of such funding. Perhaps he understood the preferential option for the poor to be determinant; perhaps he simply saw the tragedy that surrounded very poor and very young women forced to have children they did not want.

    This is certainly a problem we face in the battle for life and within the broader disagreements within the church. There are a fair number of Catholics who may not be like Kissling or agree with her vehement pro-abortion stance, but they still try to divorce the killing of innocents from matters of justice and charity. All the talk of a seamless garment usually comes down to justifying the rending of the garment at the expense of the most helpless. It goes without saying that we’ll never convince everyone that the unborn have the same dignity we do and that their lives should be protected under the law. But maybe it’s time we come to the conclusion that we’ll never convince a large number of the secular minded Catholics.

  • Darwin, while I agree that the all-star team of Catholic dissidents described by Kissling is indeed a black spot in American Catholic history — on a par with the infamous Land O’Lakes conference — to say that they met to “plot the slaughter of millions” is IMHO an exaggeration. Abortion was ALREADY legal in some states by 1970 and was openly being practiced even in places where it wasn’t legal, so the “slaughter” was already underway.

    The issue facing Kennedy and Co. at the time was whether to fight it or go along with it, and they of course chose the latter for reasons of political expediency. However, to say they “plotted the slaughter” implies that legalized abortion didn’t exist at the time and it was all their idea.

    I suspect their main concern was how to provide some kind of Catholic faith-based justification for going along with what appeared to be an inevitable change in society (the spread of the sexual revolution and abortion on demand) rather than risk their political and academic futures by appearing to be “reactionary.” Certainly nothing to be proud of, by any means.

  • Donald,

    To mourn is simply to grieve or lament for the dead. I’m saddened that Senator Kennedy held an intellectually flawed view and that he had not the opportunity to resolve it — because of the gravity of it — in this life. I am saddened that it is even amongst the list of sins he must account for. I have hope in his reception of the last Rites and in the mercy of God — for there is where his salvation lies.

    There is no honor nor anything won, justice or otherwise, in listing alitany of a man’s sins after he has died. One might judge the legacy or lack thereof left behind, but that should not render any ultimate judgment on the person.

    A true, pious Catholic would mourn his death in my view. Otherwise, we are presupposing he is incapable of salvation and being saved — and that is a judgment.

    Kissling mourns Kennedy as a champion for “reproductive rights.” Her mourning is misplaced. Her ideological committment is unjust as it opposes the absolute right to life of the unborn. Nothing justifies what she and Kennedy in his life advocated.

    But I do extend the benefit of the doubt, perhaps too kindly. I have not always been pro-life in the Catholic sense. And when I believed things contrary to what is asked of us by the Magisterium, I did not actually — as some would say — really know the Truth explicitly and just reject it anyway. On the contrary, I literally believed what I thought reflected reality and I didn’t advocate just “opinions.” Every relativist is an absolutist trying to undermine their opponent’s argument by taking away the absolute while not applying the standard to their own position.

    I think the tragedy of the pro-choice position is that one literally convinces one’s self to not believe the most obvious reality — the humanity of the unborn. I have once denied this reality. Even when I first became Catholic, it took a while for me to come around. But it was patience — real patience — not relativism that persuaded me.

    I feel sometimes this does not happen because of the abrasive way — though I understand the frustration — we go after those who fool themselves on this issue.

    If anything, if Kennedy has not won union with God — and I sincerely with every fiber of my being pray that he has — then I think it is a sadness worth mourning. For a creature, a beautiful creature — as is all humanity — who has been offered a gift, the Lord Himself and union with Him, to be adopted as His Sons, and offered the Eucharist, a gift not even endowed unto angels — ultimately would be found guilty of rejecting that gift and will suffer the unmentionable reality that such fallen creatures will endure for eternity.

    That’s my two cents. Pray for him.

  • I have already stated that I pray for his soul Eric. I hope he had a glimmer of true repentance before he departed this life. I seek not to judge his soul but rather what is of public record as to his life. As for his life, I mourn the great evil that he did, the children who are not alive because of his championing of abortion and the Catholics led astray on abortion and other matters by his abysmal example.

  • This untouching tribute is certainly more realistic than the blather from the funeral that is now enshrined on YouTube and linked on Vox Nova.

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .