One day before the opening of the Supreme Court's next term, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, issued a plea for the rights of the unborn at the 56th Annual "Red Mass," celebrated yesterday at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington D.C. The Mass was attended by six Supreme Court justices.
The Mass is an initiative of the John Carroll Society, a group of Catholic legal professionals, and has been held at the cathedral since 1953. The celebration of the Eucharist was presided over by Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington D.C., and the homily was delivered by Cardinal DiNardo.
Five of the six Roman Catholics on the high court — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito — attended the Mass. The sixth Catholic judge, Justice Clarence Thomas, could not attend.
The list of attendees also included Justice Stephen Breyer, who is Jewish, Vice President Joe Biden, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Speaking to the lawmakers, lawyers and justices, Cardinal DiNardo said, "The many smoldering wicks are our 'clients' but more than clients. They are poor and wealthy, confused and lucid, polite and impolite. In some cases the clients are voiceless for they lack influence."
In a clear reference to the unborn, the cardinal added, "in others cases they are literally voiceless, not yet with tongues and even without names, and require our most careful attention and radical support."
"The Word of God has taken an initiative in speaking and the response is certainly to hear and understand. This contemplative dimension, however, also leads to obedience, an obedience of Faith. Graced in this manner, we respond in our personal lives of faith and witness and in our professional lives too, not only for the good of our souls but also for the sake of our professions that must show God’s justice in the world," the Texas cardinal said.
"The Spirit,” he continued, “descended upon the Son of God become a son of man, so that he could abide in the human race and thus 'be at home among people' and renew them. This beautiful familial image that places the work of the Holy Spirit as one who transforms from the old man, frequently forgetful, to the new life of every man in Christ is also a great picture summary of what we have heard today in the voice of the Readings."
"May that voice of the Word of God touch our hearts and tongues in the judicial year that lies ahead," the cardinal prayed as he concluded his homily.
The title of "Red Mass" dates to the 13th century and comes from the red vestments worn by the celebrants. The Mass is conducted to ask for guidance for those who seek justice.