Marie Griffith on Red Mass

Over at Religion & Politics, Marie Griffith thinks there is something unseemly about the annual Red Mass. She worries that the justices of the Supreme Court are "expected" to attend a religious service, although she also notes that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg does not attend and has given her reasons for not attending. Griffith also mistakenly states that this year's Mass was the first at which Justice Elena Kagan was present - Ms. Kagan was there last year too.

I will be writing about the Red Mass in my column for the print edition of NCR this month. But, for the moment, I will simply say that no one is "expected" or coerced into attending the annual event. It is curious to me that Justice Breyer, who is not a Catholic, is one of the most regular attendees. I have no idea why Breyer or the other justices come. Perhaps it is for the exquisite music. Perhaps, because, mindful of the many burdens that they face, they will take prayers wherever they can get them. Sometimes the sermons sound like political screeds, although this year's was certainly not.  And, Archbishop Broglio owes no one an apology for calling for evangelization at a Catholic Mass no matter who is in attendance! The conflation of symbols at the Mass is interesting but it is hardly obnoxious. Infringements of religious liberty, still less any suggestion of improper religious intervention, are made of sterner stuff than the Red Mass.

Full disclosure: I am on the advisory board at Religion & Politics, and a communicant at St. Matthew's Cathedral where the Red Mass is held. 

We say: Charlottesville reveals the weeping wound of racism. What do we, the American Catholic faith community, do next? Read the editorial.

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg

Show comments

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.