Saturday, August 28, 2010

Camelot Reconsidered

About this time last year, Ted Kennedy was buried from our beloved Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Roxbury known for the miracles that have been granted there.

To the left and right of an Altar where the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is prayerfully petitioned and venerated, are baskets filled with crutches and canes of people who were cured.

There are some more beautiful pictures of the Shrine HERE

I am honored to publish with permission a beautiful piece written by Patrick Walsh at the time of Ted Kennedy's death that reflects the concerns of Catholic evangelists who are soul-salvation focused.

I hope you enjoy his piece as much as I did.   

Camelot Reconsidered
Patrick J. Walsh

With the death of Senator Kennedy goes the phantasmagoria of Camelot. Camelot was a term used in reference and reverence to the JFK presidency, and faithfully propagated by
an adoring Kennedy media.  Camelot was Ted Kennedy’s true faith . At the 1980 Democratic convention, he called it “the dream that shall never die.” The Senator’s passing gives us pause to ponder the phantasm of this dream.

Camelot of old was the legendary castle of the King Arthur whose round table became a symbol of civil order. King Arthur, a mythical king and his knights lived by a code of chivalry protecting the weak, the defenseless and many a damsel in distress. Thomas Malory wrote an epic about the king’s exploits and later Tennyson put it all to poetry in Idllys of the King. The spiritual force behind Camelot was Christianity.

In that era, the greatest quest of a knight was to search for the Holy Grail – a cup - used by Christ at the Last Supper. This quest for the grail was a striving for an otherworldly reality, which kept one, balanced in this our temporal world. The knight in search for the grail would deny himself, fast, humble and sacrifice himself in order to be worthy of the venture.

One need not dwell on the obvious disparity of the Kennedy clan aiding damsels in distress or defending human life. Kennedy Camelot is a symbol for those who have camped down on earth and forgotten any supra temporal reality. Their Camelot is not a battle against the world but an immersion in it, a celebration of the automonous self, wealth and power - the very obverse of the word Camelot and antithetical to Christianity.

Observing the people at the Kennedy library where Senator Kennedy’s closed coffin lie waked, I noticed a definite type congregating there. Many late middle aged and elderly American-Irish sentimentalizing their distant lineage, sporting college rings as  a kind of emblem of their material success. I thought of some lines from T.S Eliot’s The Wasteland, of those “assured of certain certainties and eager to assume the world.” JFK and the 1960 campaign was a great turning point in their secularization and new found faith in the vague, dream of a new secular world order Camelot.

During that campaign, J.F.K proclaimed that his Catholic faith was secondary to his Americanism. Indeed, his sister Eunice Kennedy said if someone were to write a book about her brother’s Catholic faith, “it would be a very thin volume.” Historian John Lukacs noted that the 1960’s in America were a period of the devolution of Catholic faith and institutions with the Kennedy’s leading the way.

This “thin volume” of Catholic faith was very evident at the funeral Mass of Edward M. Kennedy. It was fitting that the main server be Fr. Monan, former president of Boston College whose tenure distanced the college from the control and teachings of the Roman Magisterium while reorganizing it on a purely secular basis.  And Prayers of the Faithful offered by Kennedy children were anything but faithful showing a dire need of remedial religious instruction. To put things in perspective it should be noted that the Vatican rejected Caroline Kennedy as an inappropriate ambassador from the United States to the Holy See.

That the archdiocese of Boston allowed such a high profile funeral was an extraordinary scandal. Cardinal O’Malley looked like a penitent servant of Kennedy clan rather than a Cardinal of the Roman Church. He should not have been there. Sen. Kennedy was a man who took every opportunity to publicly oppose the Church on many basic teachings and on the very nature of what constitutes a human person, as known to all previous civilizations. He was a champion of what Pope John Paul called “a culture of death”. Senator Kennedy reminds one of Rex Mortram in Brideshead Revisited who as Waugh put it, “did not correspond to any degree of paganism known to the missionaries”. The Senator’s lack of religious sensibility is painfully evident in his posthumous autobiography.

Cardinal O’Malley chided Catholics who protested this high profile Mass, pretending that the funeral was an act of Christian charity. It may have been if some statement were issued by Sen. Kennedy renouncing his public support of abortion and his more recent championing of homosexual marriage. But no such statement was forthcoming from the family. If the Senator confessed his errors to a priest before dying then God will judge the integrity of his soul. And we should all pray for his salvation. But, in either case, a huge public funeral with the Cardinal present was a scandal to the faithful Roman Catholics. Genuine Christian charity speaks hard truth to an unbelieving world as Christ did. Woe to those who seek to appease rather than to appall, as the spiritual seeker Melville said.

The faithful in Boston and the USA were looking for a rock and Cardinal O’Malley gave us mush. He allowed himself to be manipulated and badly used by secular forces bent on the Church’s destruction. As Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro in Rome stated, “the problem of the scandal remains because the ordinary of the place where the funeral was officiated could not have been ignorant that the funeral was going to be turned into a
celebration of the life of that particular person.” In addition, “the Roman Missal 382 establishes: At the Funeral Mass there should, as a rule, be a short homily, but never a eulogy of any kind.. There is abundant evidence provided by the press that this norm was not respected and that is in itself a reasonable source of scandal.”

O’Malley’s actions were especially repelling for non Catholics earnestly looking for a faith uncorrupted by secular power and struggling to believe in this dark age.  They were turned off by this pantomime funeral. Disconsolate, I was reminded of something Walker Percy once said about the absurdity of our time –“Catholic or Protestant, the believing writer is equally unhappy. He feel like Lancelot in search of the Holy Grail who finds himself at the end of his quest at a Tupperware party.”


Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Pray for us


Restore-DC-Catholicism said...


breathnach said...

Thanks for posting erudite commentary that takes on the empty spin that too often comes out of Braintree.

The Kennedy funeral was a low point for faithful American Catholics.

The bitter and defensive reaction of the Archdiocese to respectful criticism made the situation that much worse.

Anonymous said...

I would love to know who were the players that made the funeral happen.
Is it possible that it was NOT Bryan Hehir?

Anonymous said...

Great article.

The send off of a saint given to Kennedy was scandalous. The parsimony and slander the followed the criticism and scandal certainly bears the modus operandi of Bryan Hehir.

I saw Hehir on teleision going up the stairs of the Shrine carrying somebody's vestments. When he didn't appear on the Altar, I wondered if the vestments were the Cardinal's.

Hehir's comments in the media at the time indicated he was supportive of the farcical production. Since he is THE key advisor and cabinet secretary in charge in the absence of the Cardinal, what would be another logical conclusion?

Anonymous said...

Very nice post by Mr. Walsh.

I'm an Anglo-Catholic here in Boston - and have been considering crossing the Tiber for some time, as I long and pray for our uniting in one, visible, universal Holy Catholic Church.

If Father Rutler or those Priests like him were here in Boston, I would have crossed by now.

However, when I look across the Tiber I see an uninspired bureaucrat who has both his beady eyes fixed merely upon ephemera.

There's an old saying, that "the Church that marries the spirit of the age will find itself a widow in the next."

I can say with certainty that this is exactly what happened to the "Episcopal Church" I grew up in; which is why it's currently imploding, and fading away. Which is why I am walking with my back to it.

But I am walking away slowly because I fear I'm walking towards a mirage.

No doubt there are many others like me.

So while the Church is eternal and cannot be ultimately destroyed, the damage being inflicted upon the Church by O'Malley and his ilk is surely hard to reckon.

Anonymous said...


Absolutely would not minimize your concerns.

However, compared to the state of the Church at the time of Arianism, the current crisis is a cakewalk.

Anthansius stood against the entire elite structure of the Roman Empire and the majority of the hierarchy of the visible Church. His resistance was decisive in preserving Catholic orthodoxy.

I would recommend holding your nose against the environment created by dissenters and weak shepards, but the water itself is fine!

Jerry said...

Dear Micawber,

I have to disagree with anonymous in that the current chastisement from the good God is at least on par with the Arian crisis. I think it is worse. But he is correct that the time to come in is now; as the grace was given you to post, continue in grace.

It is hard to expect anyone to enter the Church today because of the grave scandal and deviation from Tradition that is plainly and painfully evident to outsiders. But the root and the Tree of Life are here and this will become more evident to you as you enter.

Carol McKinley said...

Beautifully said

Micawber, yes, we are once again in a slump of faith and morals but check out those crutches.


As small children apalled at the sight of our Savoir crucified, we all wished we were there to do something to help or absorb some blows.

Here we are.

How often in history does an opportunity come?

There is refuge if you know the territory. If you need a map, email me.

Don't miss it!