Archbishop Preaches to Justices: Supreme Court Hears Arguments for `God's Word' at Red Mass

By Mizejewski, Gerald | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 5, 1998 | Go to article overview

Archbishop Preaches to Justices: Supreme Court Hears Arguments for `God's Word' at Red Mass


Mizejewski, Gerald, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


The archbishop of Chicago yesterday urged U.S. Supreme Court justices on the eve of a new session to remember the human element in the language of the law and to "expand to see at least dimly God's actions and purposes in history."

Cardinal Francis George spoke to an assembly of justices, judges, lawyers and political figures at the Red Mass, a 46-year tradition in Washington that has roots dating back centuries to Europe.

The service comes just a day before the Supreme Court begins its fall term, with a relatively light docket highlighted by cases dealing sexual harassment in the schools, welfare, privilege questions in the White House sex scandal and anti-loitering laws targeting gang members.

The high court has agreed to hear about 40 cases this term, sifted from thousands of appeals. Only 33 arguments were placed on the calendar before the summer break, compared with almost 50 in each of the two previous terms. Most of those selected hold little of the public interest or drama seen in recent terms.

Participants at the Red Mass, led by Cardinal James A. Hickey, archbishop of Washington, invoked God's blessing and guidance in the administration of justice.

"We are here to pray for our nation, our government and all of those who play a role in . . . justice," Cardinal Hickey said.

The Mass, at the St. Matthew Apostle Catholic Cathedral in Northwest, is held on the Sunday before the first Monday of every October to coincide with the high court's new term.

In his homily, Cardinal George said those who work in law have a great responsibility since they help to shape the culture.

He urged the congregation to follow the lead of Abraham Lincoln, who "wrestled like a biblical prophet with God's purposes in history and his judgment on this nation."

Lincoln "grew, because of his public service, in his ability to bring together . . . the law he defended finally with his own life and God's word," Cardinal George said.

He stressed the importance of remembering the "human person" and "natural family" at a time when the language of contracts seems to be the only public language in this country.

He warned his audience of the dangers of losing faith or losing sight of God. The result is a nation that worships itself. …

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