03 October 2010


On the Sunday before the new term of the United States Supreme Court, the Archdiocese of Washington hosted its 57th annual Red Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in downtown Washington, DC. The liturgy is intended to invoke the guidance and enlightenment of Holy Spirit for the Justices. Vice President Joe Biden and five current Supreme Court Justices attended.

The homily was given by Archbishop J. Augustine DeNoia, an American born member of the Roman Curia who is the Secretary of the Congregation of the Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. DiNoia reminded the invitees to the liturgy that the Red Mass was a continuation of a seven century old European custom that signals the profound esteem which the Catholic Church holds for the Supreme Court, as well as this nation’s judicial system.

The homily did not overtly advocate for any cases that will come before the Court, much to chagrin of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State activist Barry Lynn. But the Archbishop did echo our founding documents on where their power originated:

At the deepest level, our invocation of the Holy Spirit here today manifests the conviction that the democratic state does not so much confer the most fundamental human rights and the duties of citizenship as acknowledge their existence and source in a power beyond the state, namely in God himself. Your presence here today bears eloquent witness to the enduring power of this conviction.
Archbishop DiNoia proffered the notion that principles of positive or man-made law are based on respect for the natural or divine law. He noted:

[t]he pursuit of the common good through respect for the natural law, the dignity of the human person, the inviolability of innocent life from conception to natural death, the sanctity of marriage, justice for the poor, protection of minors, and so on. The legal profession is entrusted with the discernment and administration of justice and the rule of law according to an objective measure—in effect, according to principles—not of our own making.

Acknowledging the consensus in Judeo-Christian and Islamic law for these divine principles, DiNoia prayed to affirm these profound truths. DiNoia’s remarks also echoed our nation’s founding documents in the source of legitimate power in a democratic republic is found in the Creator.

This was a thoughtful and eloquent homily which continued tradition while respectfully represented the core truths of the church militant and honored those who toil in the highest court in the land.

Coverage in the Lamestream Media was spotty and sullied. The CNN blog coverage spent significant space to the anti-religious advocacy of UCC Minister Barry Lynn. Their coverage was keen on exposing the religious persuasions of the High Court and that six of the Justices were Catholic. Moreover, the coverage explained that Justice Ginsburg was offended by a strong anti-abortion message from a previous year so she would never return. Oddly, the piece did not make one mention of this year’s homily. It is as if the article was written beforehand. But then again, this is CNN.

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