Full Text — Edward M. Kennedy letter to Pope Benedict XVI

Senator Ted Kennedy wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI. President Obama delivered the letter.

The letter reads:

“Most Holy Father,

I asked President Obama to personally hand deliver this letter to you. As a man of deep faith himself, he understands how important my Roman Catholic faith is to me and I am so deeply grateful to him.

I hope this letter finds you in good health. I pray that you have all of God’s blessings as you lead our church and inspire our world during challenging times.

I am writing with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines. I was diagnosed with brain cancer over a year ago and although I am undergoing treatment, the disease is taking its toll on me.

Read the Pope’s response.

I am 77-years-old and preparing for the next passage of life.

I’ve been blessed to be part of a wonderful family and both my parents, specifically my mother, kept our Catholic faith at the center of our lives.

That gift of faith has sustained and nurtured and provided solace to me in the darkest hours. I know that i have been an imperfect human being, but with the help of my faith I have tried to right my past.

I want you to know, your Holiness, that in my 50 years of elected office I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I’ve worked to welcome the immigrant, to fight discrimination and expand access to health care and education. I’ve opposed the death penalty and fought to end war. Those are the issues that have motivated me and have been the focus of my work as a U.S. Senator.

I also want you to know that even though I am ill, I am committed to do everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life.

I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field and I’ll continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone.

I’ve always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness. And though I have fallen short through human failings I’ve never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings of my faith.

I continue to pray for God’s blessings on you and on our church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me.”




4 thoughts on “Full Text — Edward M. Kennedy letter to Pope Benedict XVI”

  1. This web site is false. That letter is false.
    This is what Time Magazine wrote:
    Updated: Aug. 30, 2009


    Appreciation: Ted Kennedy 1932-2009

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    There was a poignant footnote to President Obama’s historic July 10 meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. Behind closed doors in the papal library, Obama handed Benedict a letter that Senator Edward Kennedy had asked him to personally deliver to the Pontiff. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs later told reporters that nobody — not even the President — knew the contents of the sealed missive. Obama asked Benedict to pray for Kennedy and called the ailing Senator afterward to fill him in on his encounter with the 82-year-old Pope.

    The letter, most likely already resealed and tucked away in the Vatican archives, was probably just a dying Catholic’s request for a papal blessing. (UPDATE: At Kennedy’s burial at Arlington on Saturday, retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick read excerpts from Kennedy’s letter; he also provided portions of the Vatican’s response to it.) In the eyes of the traditionalist wing of the Church, however, Kennedy should have been asking the Pope for forgiveness. The Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported Kennedy’s death, praising his work on civil rights and fighting poverty, but noted that his record was marred by his stance on abortion. As of yet, unlike some other world leaders, Pope Benedict has not commented or issued an official communiqué in response to Kennedy’s death. The niceties of international diplomacy do not require the Pope to issue a statement on the death of a non-head of state. Earlier in August, when the Senator’s sister Eunice was dying the Papal Nuncio to the U.S. delivered a letter to her family saying the Pope was praying for her, her children and her husband.

    One veteran official at the Vatican, of U.S. nationality, expressed the view of many conservatives about the Kennedy clan’s rapport with the Catholic Church: “Why would he even write a letter to the Pope? The Kennedys have always been defiantly in opposition to the Roman Catholic magisterium.” (Magisterium is the formal term for the authority of Church teaching.)
    (See a Kennedy family photo album.)

    During Benedict’s 2008 trip to the U.S., there was some heated debate — with conflicting photographs and eyewitness accounts — about whether Kennedy took Holy Communion at the papal Mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington, with conservatives insisting that the Pope says the rite should be denied to prochoice politicians. With this in mind, Church observers are keen to see if Boston’s Archbishop Cardinal Sean O’Malley will preside over Kennedy’s funeral. Some conservatives already see the fact that the rites are not being held in a cathedral (but rather at the Senator’s favorite church) as significant. (UPDATE: While Cardinal O’Malley was not the principal celebrant at Kennedy’s funeral mass, he provided the final commendation at the ceremony on Saturday.)

    1. He could NOT take communion..He had remarried..it was not sanctioned by the Church..therefore he was in effect excommmunicated..any attempt at communion would be considered a very serious breach in the rule and edicts of the faith.

  2. I am a catholic and in church Kennedy’s letter to our Pope was mentioned..the priest also mentioned it was 17 PAGES IN LENGTH, and described personal events in Kennedy’s life and how they occurred and how he is sorry they happened…he did ask for forgiveness and prayers..and he did own up to “past mistakes” which were listed in detail in his 17-page letter but was not openly detailed in church.

    Speculation can only include that he admitted a deliberate abandonment of Mary Joe in the drowning, his abuse of his first wife, and subsequent un-approved marriage, his lack of ability in being a good leader role for his kids, etc…a death bed confession..bottom line..he was a flawed..dishonest murdering man who wanted to be forgiven because he knew he was destined for hell if he was not forgiven. Last minute Catholic if you ask me.

    This could be PART of the letter..but not all that is definite.

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