Red Mass

The Red Mass, while it sounds evil and full of spilled blood, is an ancient Roman Catholic tradition that dates back to 1245. From Wikipedia, it is simply a Mass that

requests guidance from the Holy Spirit for all who seek justice, and offers the opportunity to reflect on what Catholics believe is the God-given power and responsibility of all in the legal profession.

In the United States, a prominent Red Mass is held in Washington DC just prior to the beginning of the Supreme Court’s term (“first Monday in October”). That six Supremes attended, one of whom (Breyer) is Jewish, has some folks knickers in a twist.

One twistee is Marci Hamilton, who has written a rather whiny essay about the topic. While I’ve got all sorts of reservations about something called a “Red Mass”, not to mention the theology that assumes one may ask the Holy Spirit’s blessings only in a special and pompous ceremony, I’ve zero problem with any public official, appointed or elected, attending with the hopes of being blessed by God.

But, for those like Marci Hamilton, if she doesn’t agree with the Catholic Church’s positions on abortion, euthanasia, or, likely, a lot of other things, well, it’s a sin. No, she doesn’t come right out and say this. She uses innuendo and a backdoor approach. Some extracts:

There is good reason to question the judgment of the Justices who attended – Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Alito, who are Catholic, and Justice Breyer, who is Jewish. Attending the Red Mass is a legislative, executive, and Court tradition, but it is hardly a mandatory event, as the absence of Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, and Souter attest. [sounds like she thinks it should be mandatory for them not to attend]

It is one thing for elected representatives, who are inherently accountable to their constituents and the larger public good, to attend; quite a different matter when the independent judiciary does so. [checks and balances, dear Marci — Justices are appointed but also may be impeached. It’s hard to see why any branch of government should be treated differently in this free exercise of religious liberty.]

No one is asking the Justices to abandon their faith – least of all myself. [except when that faith involves inconvenient truths for the abortion-on-demand lobby] Nor am I asking the Justices to be anywhere near as publicly open and candid about the relationship between their faith and their job as was President Kennedy, though it might be illuminating if they were. [Sigh, we all miss Camelot. Too bad Saint Jack didn’t confess his sins of serial adultery…] What I am asking them to do is provide the public with greater reassurance that they view their judicial obligations as distinct from their religious obligations. Taking a pass on the Red Mass might well have done just that.

No, she doesn’t care if the “public” has “greater reassurance.” She wants to deny the free exercise of religious liberty to those whose faith requires some heavy lifting. As does the Roman Catholic faith. And, it is worth repeating: It’s hard to see why any branch of government should be treated differently in this free exercise of religious liberty.

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