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Ted Kennedy and My Friend, Larry in the Public Square

By Dennis Lynch
Your Catholic Voice Movement

If you read my last article about “Should Ted Kennedy receive Holy Communion”, you now know a lot about the “Catholic” Ted. But, what about my friend Larry? Read this story and my friend Larry Cirignano may be as well known as Ted Kennedy in the public square.

We all know Ted Kennedy is the Catholic poster boy for The New York Times. Ted expressly supports killing innocent preborn children while the media relishes in referring to him as “Catholic”. Likewise with Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Kerry and now even Wesley K. Clark. All of these “Catholics” reject universal Catholic doctrine that abortion is intrinsically evil. All these Catholics in the public square defy the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ position on the sanctity of human life….not to mention Catholic Dogma.

Although the media supports these so-called “Catholics”, why does it seem to everyday Catholics like me that some Church leaders publicly give the front pew to the Ted Kennedys' while everyday Catholics like you and me wind up in the rear? The answer why many Catholic Clergy don’t oppose the Ted Kennedys’ in the public square is contained in Father Neuhaus’ October 2003 edition of “First Things”. My friend Larry read what Father Neuhaus wrote in his “Public Square” comments about the Catholic public square. Larry and Ted last week were in the same public square. The only real question is which one of these “Catholics” do Church leaders really recognize there. One member of the Catholic clergy gave his answer just the other day. Do you agree? Please read on.

A few years ago, a very dedicated Catholic organizer named Larry Cirignano went to visit an important member of our Clergy in New Jersey. The purpose of the visit was to help educate and energize lay Catholics. More specifically, Larry had been very successful in helping Catholics in New Jersey carry out the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Statement about “Living the Gospel of Life”. One very important part of that Statement was Catholics becoming involved in public policy matters and voting as Faithful Catholics. If there is anything that defines a Faithful Catholic today, it is his or her position in the public square on life.

Larry had developed the excellent idea of taking the Bishops’ Statement and summarizing it in a simple brochure. The brochure would be printed in Spanish and English and handed out in every Church in New Jersey. The content of the brochure would be word-for-word from the Bishops’ Statement Larry’s organization even offered to have all the printing and distribution done for free. Larry wanted to perform this service since now New Jersey Governor McGreevey (a “Ted Kennedy Catholic” ) was running for office and many felt that the Bishops’ Statement would be helpful in having Church-going New Jersey Catholics vote as Faithful Catholics. Governor McGreevey, a New York Times “Catholic”, was for abortion. His opponent (who was not a Catholic) was against abortion. The position of candidates on that issue was very different and dramatic. Sounds like a “ground ball” for any Faithful Catholic leader.

Somewhat strangely, the effort to place the Bishops’ Statement squarely in the public square was turned down by that member of the Clergy. Larry’s offer of assistance to have the Bishops’ Statement distributed in the “public square” to all Catholics in New Jersey before an important election was rejected. Larry was never told why. Larry was never invited to come back later and discuss any alternatives. Larry was literally left standing outside wondering why the Bishops’ Statement was not as widely distributed as possible in the public square.

Last week, Larry Cirignano and Father Peter West from Priests for Life were standing in Washington, D.C. while Ted Kennedy was arriving at the Hilton for a fund raiser. Larry Cirignano was present with dozens of protesters carrying signs asking Ted Kennedy in the public square “Are you Catholic or Pro-abortion… can’t be both”. When Ted Kennedy saw the protesters, he quickly went into the fund raiser through the back door avoiding protesters in the public square outside the Hilton. A few seconds later that same member of the Catholic Clergy walked by Larry, Father Peter and others holding those public protest signs about Ted Kennedy. As that member of the Catholic Clergy passed by, he said to my friend Larry as if to counter those protest signs, “Teddy is doing something good tonight”.

When Larry told me about this statement by an important member of the Catholic clergy I had just finished reading my October 2003 edition of “First Things”. I must confess, the first thing I turn to in “First Things” is Rev. Neuhaus’ Column ...

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