01 October 2006

Faith of Our Fathers and Justice for All

We'll return to the tale of Howie and his Friends in a moment. But first, a short note on the day. You see, it's Red Mass Sunday in Washington, D.C. in a ceremony dating back to the 13th Century -- which, coincidentally was the SAME century that Habeas Corpus was first enshrined in law.

In Washington, DC, it's been going on since 1953, making this the 53rd annual Red Mass, which is held in the Cathedral of St. Matthew, usually with the Archbishop of Washington, D.C. delivering the homily.

from the Official Archdiocese Website:

This will be Archbishop Wuerl's first Red Mass in Washington. He became the leader of the Archdiocese of Washington in June 2006 after 18 years as the Bishop of Pittsburgh.
CNN Correspondent Joe Johns explains it:
This is a mass that is essentially organized by the John Carroll Society, a society of Catholic lawyers to, in essence, bless the legal profession right around the start of the Supreme Court term.
Last year, Bush and Rehnquist both attended. This year, Bush (allegedly a Methodist) and, significantly, newest justice Samuel Alito (a devout Catholic, nonetheless) were not present.

About a year ago, I wrote in this blog:
Monday, July 25, 2005

In yesterday's thrilling edition, we saw young John G. Roberts leave Indiana, attend Harvard and then Harvard Law School.

After rising through the profession, he married fellow lawyer Jane Sullivan in 1996.

According to the Los Angeles Times:
"Jane Roberts attended the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and graduated magna cum laude in 1976. In 1984, she graduated cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center."
They married in 1996, and a few years ago (both are about 50 years old) they adopted children in their early forties.

According to "LifeSite News"
Married in their forties John and Jane Roberts were unable to conceive children of their own, but have adopted a boy and a girl, and Roberts has consistently shown a deep love for his role as a father.
She is, by all accounts, a "devout Catholic" and is on the Board of Governors of the John Carroll Society (named after the first US Bishop), according to its webpage: "On February 15, 1953, O'Boyle celebrated the first Society-sponsored Red Mass. In succeeding years, the congregation has frequently included the President of the United States and leading federal jurists, cabinet officials, congressmen and diplomats. Today, the Red Mass is celebrated annually on the Sunday before the first Monday in October, prior to the opening of the Supreme Court's judicial year."

Here's a piece of the "homily" delivered at the most recent "Red Mass":
"In the face of the challenges at hand, we appeal to Catholic jurists and intellectuals and all people of good will to help rebuild consensus around the foundational principles necessary for democracy: the dignity of the human person who has both rights and responsibilities, the inalienable right to life, the relationship between truth and freedom, convictions about the common good, the centrality and importance of marriage and family, the need to nurture and protect the most vulnerable members of society, the need for solidarity among people."

The Most Reverend Seán P. O'Malley, OFM Cap
Archbishop of Boston
Homily for the 51st Annual Red Mass, St. Matthew's Cathedral
Washington, DC
October 3, 2004 (from their webpage)
Jane Roberts is also involved with "Feminists for Life" which had this to say from their webpage:
"Jane Sullivan Roberts currently serves as legal counsel to Feminists for Life of America (FFLA) on a pro bono basis. From 1995 to 1999 she served as Executive Vice President on the Board of Directors of FFL. Serrin Foster, President of FFL, said, "Jane is a brilliant attorney. We are very proud of her and appreciative of her service to Feminists for Life and women and children." Ms. Roberts is married to Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts, Jr.

"Established in 1972, Feminists for Life is a nonsectarian, nonpartisan, grassroots organization that seeks real solutions to the challenges women face. FFL's efforts are shaped by the core feminist values of nondiscrimination, nonviolence, and justice for all. FFL continues the tradition of early American feminists such as Susan B. Anthony who sought to address the root causes that drive women to abortion."
So, we have to surmise that Roberts is, himself a devout Catholic, else there would probably be hell to pay at home. You see, if Roberts is confirmed, the U.S. Supreme Court will have four Catholic Justices out of nine. So, one gets the feeling that Catholic beliefs just might be very important in the next few terms of the Court. And we should probably remember that while the United States government is built on a bedrock of separation of Church and State, the Church doesn't see it quite that way (from the October 6, 2002 Red Mass homily):
"All too often in recent years, it has been a sign of our time that some urge that the role of religion in public life be marginalized and even suppressed. And too frequently, men and women of faith have not challenged the assertion that religion is a strictly private matter and that faith in God, and its accompanying moral and social values, have no role to play in our national life. We are even told that our children should not utter God's name when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, as if that would do them harm or make them less fully Americans. Instead of accepting this claim, our faith in God leads us to another conclusion. As we face the signs of our times -- the moral decline in society, the threats against life both from abroad and from within, and the lack of trust in our leaders -- we recognize that this time, our time, is a time for religious renewal. It is a time for us to recover our sense of God, of the sacredness of human life and of doing what is right, whatever the cost and whatever the circumstance. It is a time for us to be not more reticent, but more courageous in professing our faith in God and acting upon it.

"Pope John Paul II, the outstanding religious and moral leader in the world today, had this to say to visiting Bishops from the United States in 1998, 'The survival of a ... democracy depends not only on its institutions, but to an even greater extent on the spirit which inspires and permeates its procedures for legislating, administering, and judging. The future of democracy, in fact, depends on a culture capable of forming men and women who are prepared to defend certain truths and values. It is imperiled when politics and law are sundered from any connection to the moral law written on the human heart.' (Address of Pope John Paul II to the Bishops of Region X, June 27, 1998)

The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory
Homily for the Red Mass, Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Washington, DC
October 6, 2002
Now, you should know that I'm leaving out the stuff about being a Good Samaritan, about how we should turn away from nuclear weapons and that sort of thing. I don't cast aspersions on the sincerity of the church fathers. But I think it's important to understand that Roe v. Wade is now going to go before four Catholic Justices, and how the Church is more than happy to tell those jurists what they should rule in such cases.

I will be curious to see how Roberts manages the tension between his religious and secular duties -- especially considering that his religion states clearly that they are one and the same. He should NOT separate them....
And now we'll see how well our five Catholic jurists deal with overturning Roe v. Wade (actually, now I think Rust v. Sullivan actually is the controlling case). But, tomorrow, in the most anonymous branch of the three branches of government, and for the first time in American history -- a post-Reformation protestant nation if ever there was one -- a majority of Catholic jurists will have to grapple with the command of the Church that there is no separation of church and state, and the US Constitution, which contends that there is.

Of course, the whole question of when life begins is, in essence a metaphysical one, and, therefore, deciding whether the moral government has an absolute duty to a theoretical child to command an actual woman to act as its brood mare*, well, that will be a very interesting case to watch.

* Don't laugh. That is PRECISELY what the South Dakota legislature enacted last year: You get raped, you bear the child. Your uncle and daddy gang-bang you with a couple of cousins? You bear the child.

And we say that we believe in women's rights. So, how come, on this "Red Mass" Sunday before the start of the new Supreme Court term on the First Monday in October, how come nobody's even talking about the Equal Rights Amendment, which a clear and overwhelming majority of Americans agreed with and supported and was only stymied by a well-timed smear campaign from the likes of Phyllis Schlafly and the Religious Right?

Oh. I seem to have answered my own question.

Here's the AP story the Washington POST is running today:
High Court Justices Attend Pre-Term Mass

The Associated Press
Sunday, October 1, 2006; 10:17 AM

WASHINGTON -- Four justices joined members of President Bush's Cabinet, foreign ambassadors and the capital's legal community for the worship service traditionally held the Sunday before the Supreme Court's new term.

Four of the five Roman Catholics on the high court _ Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas _ attended the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.

Justice Samuel Alito, who gave Catholics a majority for the first time when he joined the nine-member court in January, was not seen at the service where Washington's archbishop, Donald W. Wuerl, was presiding.

The service has been held at the cathedral since 1952 by the John Carroll Society, a group of Washington professionals who are Catholic.

Cabinet members attending the service Sunday included Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson.

Celebration of the Red Mass dates to the 13th century and is conducted to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance for those who seek justice. The Mass takes its name from the red vestments, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, worn by the celebrants.

St. Matthew's is one of the better known Red Masses in this country and is traditionally held on the Sunday before the first Monday in October, when the Supreme Court convenes for the start of its term....
And here's another little AP piece that might prove interesting in the new Supreme Court, which we might term the "Anti-Warren Court."
Scalia Begins Third Decade on Court

By Nancy Benac
Associated Press Writer
Sun, Oct. 01 2006 09:21 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) - There is something liberating about a lifetime appointment and a certainty in the correctness of one's ideas. Justice Antonin Scalia has both.

He travels the world as a sought-after speaker, snags White House dinner invitations and packs one of the most powerful pens on Earth as a leading conservative voice on the U.S. Supreme Court. More than once, he has looked over a crowd of Washington power-brokers and observed that there is no one in the group who can help him or hurt him.

Yet while Scalia's influence and presence are undisputed, there have been significant frustrations as well as victories for him during his two decades on the court. The year's new term begins Monday.

Early optimism that his affability would allow him to serve as a consensus-builder is long gone, buried under a heap of biting opinions and acerbic observations about the reasoning of fellow justices and others.

Now, with a judicial deck that has been reshuffled over the past year by the arrivals of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, Scalia has fresh hope of reinforcements for some of his most strongly held views.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gives the keynote speech during a debate over the role international and foreign law should play in American judicial decision-making at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington in this Feb. 21, 2006, file photo. Scalia, whose 20th anniversary on the court came and went quietly this week, was passed over by President Bush in favor of Roberts for the position of chief justice when William Rehnquist died a year ago. But at age 70, Scalia shows no interest in retiring, or signs of mellowing.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home