Sen. Kennedy’s casket is brought down the aisle at a private funeral service in Boston. Saturday, August 29, 2009
KENNEDY MAKES FINAL LETTER PUBLIC
*Editor’s Note: Shortly before his death, Senator Edward M. Kennedy wrote a letter to the Pope which President Obama personally delivered. This letter sums up the late Senator’s reflections at the end of his life and is deeply poignant. Although the letter was kept private until after his death, Kennedy obviously wanted to offer these words to the world as well, choosing to have it read aloud at his funeral service last week. This is Teddy’s farewell to you.
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.
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.”
Ted Kennedy Jr., the Senator’s widow Vicki and President Obama during the service
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and wife Mary Richardson arrive for the funeral service in Boston.
Sen. Kennedy’s children Patrick, Kara, Ted Jr. and his widow Vicki
President Barack Obama delivered the eulogy
Kennedy’s widow Vicki embraces the President
Sen. Kennedy was laid to rest beside his brothers Jack and Bobby at Arlington Cemetery
The graveside service at Arlington that evening: Kennedys say their last goodbyes.