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Brownback addresses Red Mass luncheon


Sen. Sam Brownback, Ryan Connors of the senators office, Lawyers Guild vice president Wilson Rogers II and guild president Joseph Nolan stand during the offertory procession of the Red Mass. Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

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BOSTON -- Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley embraced the views of presidential candidate Sen. Sam Brownback, R- Kan., Oct. 14 at the luncheon held at the Park Plaza Hotel following the annual Red Mass. The annual Mass and luncheon are sponsored by The Catholic Lawyers’ Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston.

The Red Mass is the popular name for the Mass of the Holy Spirit, in which God’s blessings are invoked upon judges, attorneys and all those working in the fields of canon and civil law.

“There is no other presidential candidate in the U.S. today that more reflects Catholic social doctrine as you do,” the cardinal said from the podium after the senator had finished his remarks. Brownback converted to Catholicism five years ago. He succeeded Robert Dole in the Senate.

“Your words are not from a politician posturing, but a reflection of your faith,” the cardinal said.

Before he made his remarks, Brownback said that as someone raised as a Protestant, he was confused when the cardinal first invited him to speak at a “Red” Mass.

“I thought isn’t that Communism? Shouldn’t I be against that?” Brownback said.

In his address, Brownback said he is working to expand the role of people of faith in the public square and the acceptance of faith as a legitimate motivation for public acts, he said.

Politicians such as Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and President George W. Bush have shared the role of faith in their lives and embraced the faith community. They were derided, but they won, he said.

“There is too much attention paid to faith corrupting politics, rather than politics corrupting faith,” he said. “If it is the truth, it is the truth.”

An ardent supporter of the rights of the unborn, Brownback said he is especially inspired by the slaughter of Down syndrome children in the womb.

“Ninety percent of them are killed in the womb. The next time you see a person with Down syndrome give them a hug,” he said. In this session, the senator said he is sponsoring a bill to set up a federal adoption program for these children to encourage parents to spare them. The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

“We are winning the abortion debate,” he said.

In the past, Brownback said he never allowed himself to believe that the Roe v. Wade decision could be reversed, but two developments have him convinced.

“Eighteen to 25 year-olds are the most pro-life age group,” he said. “The right to an abortion will be overturned. There is no right to abortion in the Constitution.”

Brownback said, “We are one vote on the Supreme Court away--I would love to be the president who appoints that vote.”

The cardinal celebrated the Red Mass at the South End’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross and the homily was delivered by Father James M. DiPerri, who teaches at Weston’s Blessed Pope John XXIII Seminary.

In his homily, Father DiPerri said Catholics are called to spread the Good News.

“Paul was in chains, but the Gospel is not,” he said. “Not just on Sunday, but bring God’s Church to our workplace and everyday lives.”

“Father DiPerri did a magnificent job,” said William Bulger, the former president of the state senate outside the cathedral.

Bulger said he fought his whole political career to remove the articles in the state’s constitution written to restrict aid to Catholic schools Massachusetts. “The restrictions are tighter than in the U.S. Constitution.”

This year’s observance returned to its proper place in October, which is traditionally the beginning of the judicial calendar, said Joseph R. Nolan, the president of the Lawyer’s Guild and a retired supreme judicial court judge.

Nolan said that in addition to this annual event, the guild performs pro bono work for the homeless clients of the St. Francis House, holds a springtime lecture and day of recollection at St. John’s Seminary and celebrates Mass together on the first Friday of the month.

“We try to be a voice in this archdiocese,” he said.

To increase participation at the monthly service, the guild’s new chaplain, Father Mark O’Connell said he was moving it to the Liturgical Apostolate Center at 43 West Street in Downtown Boston.

Father O’Connell, who was recently installed as the judicial vicar of the archdiocese, said the guild is a place where canon lawyers and civil lawyers can inform each other. “We have learned over the last few years to work more closely together, because we have to.”

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