As the summer has ended, on this Labor Day weekend, it is now back to school, and back to work…
By Robert Moynihan, reporting from America
Pope Benedict is at Castel Gandolfo until the end of September. He is resting and preparing a number of initiatives for the coming year.
From the roof of his castle, where I was in late July, he has views like this one (I was able to visit the palace because one of my oldest friends in Rome is a Jesuit astronomer, and there is an observatory on the roof of the palace).
This has been a time of passages — of resignations, of new assignments, and of a controversial funeral.
In the Vatican, the Pope on August 17 named Msgr. Ettore Balestrero to be undersecretary for relations with states. He replaces Msgr. Pietro Parolin, 54 — an old friend — who was named an archbishop and nuncio to Venezuela the same day. (Here is a story about the appointment: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0903703.htm)
In Italy, Dino Boffo, the editor of the daily newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, Avvenire, has resigned his post following a “war of words” with the Italian government. The issue began as a conflict over policies on immigration, then spiraled into exchanges of accusations about sexual improprieties. (Here is a story about the case: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0903982.htm)
Also in Italy, the new US Ambassador to the Vatican, Miguel Diaz, arrived in Rome on August 27 with his family. (Here is a story about his appointment: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0903855.htm)
In America, a fiery pro-life bishop, Joseph Martino of Scranton, 63, has also unexpectedly resigned his post. (Here is a story the resignation: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0903907.htm).
And finally, also in the United States, where I have been traveling and resting, the last remaining Kennedy brother, Edward, passed away on August 25. His funeral Mass was celebrated in Boston on Saturday, August 29, eight days ago.
The matter was an important one for America, and for the Church in America, as Ted Kennedy was the brother of John, the nation’s first Roman Catholic president, whose presidency was ended in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, and the brother of Robert, who might well have become the second Catholic president, had he not been gunned down in Los Angeles on June 6, 1968, after winning the California Democratic Party primary. Ted was himself a leading Democratic Party leader during the past generation. His funeral was broadcast live globally on CNN.
The matter was also important to me. The lives and deaths of John and Robert Kennedy, whose public assassinations occurred when I was a boy, were important to my own understanding of my country, and of the role of Catholics in the public life of my country.
The tragedy of the Kennedys remains one of the greatest public tragedies of my lifetime.
This is not the time or place to go into all the details of the Kennedy story, from Camelot to Chappaquiddick, from the “New Frontier” to legislation legalizing the taking of innocent human life in abortion.
I am not here to judge any man, but to mourn the passing of all the brothers, whose aspirations were left unfulfilled by their own failings, and the actions of their enemies.
(In happier times: The Kennedy family visits Pope Pius XII in Vatican City, 1939. Young Ted stands in front of his father Joseph. Bettmann / CORBIS)
I simply recall the words Bobby once spoke: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and these ripples, coming together from a million different centers of energy and daring, can build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” —Blaise Pascal (French mathematician, philosopher, physicist and writer, 1623-1662)