Vatican diplomat warns US leaders not to use God for selfish ends

Red Mass Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, delivers the homily for the 69th annual Red Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 3./ Archdiocese of Washington/YouTube

A leading Vatican diplomat on Sunday exhorted U.S. government officials and justices to not use God for their own selfish ends.

“There is the risk to use even God for our own ends instead of serving him,” said Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, in his homily for the 69th annual Red Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

“Even just laws,” he noted, “can result in injustice when unaccompanied by a just heart.”

Those who, instead of trying to “grasp” God, ask for and receive Him, by doing so “draw near” to God’s justice, Caccia said.

This also applies to human relationships, he added. “Every time we treat others as objects that we can grasp and use for our own purposes, we lose them,” he said. “If we, however, receive them as a gift, we can start a relationship that may last a lifetime.”

The Red Mass has been held annually in Washington, D.C. since 1953. Attended by government officials and justices, the Mass is offered to invoke God’s blessing upon civic leaders for the coming year. It is held just before the beginning of the Supreme Court’s fall term.

The Mass also has a tradition dating back centuries in Rome, Paris, and London. Its name is derived from the color of the celebrant’s vestments for the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington celebrated the Mass on Sunday. Those in attendance included Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough, along with the presidents of Georgetown University and The Catholic University of America. Clergy who were present included Archbishop Christopher Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington.

At the end of Mass, Cardinal Gregory expressed gratitude for those in attendance, and thanked Archbishop Caccia for representing Pope Francis, “calling and summoning us to peace and international unity.”

Archbishop Caccia noted the current risk “to exploit justice instead of deliver it.” He urged those in attendance at the Red Mass to always practice justice with mercy in a spirit of fraternity.

“Justice without fraternity is cold, blind, and minimalistic,” he said, noting that justice together with fraternity “is transformed into an attentive application of laws to persons we care about.”

“Fraternity is what makes it possible for justice to be perfected by mercy for all involved, since the restoration of justice is ultimately the resolution of a family dispute, considering we are all members of the same human family,” he said, citing Pope Francis’s 2020 encyclical Fratelli tutti (“All brothers”).

The encyclical, he added, presented “a new vision of fraternity and social friendship that will not remain at the level of words.” In contrast to the biblical figure of Cain, who asked “am I my brother’s keeper,” he noted, “Pope Francis proposes the way of the Good Samaritan.”

The upcoming Supreme Court term will feature arguments in a critical abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, as well as arguments in several religious freedom cases.

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