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ZENIT: Edward Kennedy's Last Letter to Pope

Message Is Unveiled at Funeral

WASHINGTON, D.C., SEP. 1, 2009 (Zenit.org).- At Saturday's funeral of U.S. Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy, a letter was revealed in which the dying man wrote to Benedict XVI, confessing his imperfections and asking for prayers.

In Arlington National Cemetery, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington, read parts of the letter that Kennedy wrote to the Pope shortly before his death.

The letter, which was hand delivered to the Pontiff by U.S. President Barack Obama last June, stated, "I am writing with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines."

The senator explained: "I was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago and although I continue treatment, the disease is taking its toll on me. I am 77 years old and preparing for the next passage of life."

The gift of faith, Kennedy affirmed, "has sustained and nurtured and provides solace to me in the darkest hours."

He acknowledged, "I know that I have been an imperfect human being, but with the help of my faith I have tried to right my path."

The senator underlined his belief "in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field," and emphasized his commitment to "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."

His letter concluded: "I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have 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."

Cardinal McCarrick noted that the Holy Father sent a response with Obama to give to Kennedy, who died Aug. 25.

The prelate read excerpts of it, in which the Pontiff expressed a prayer for that the senator would be "sustained in faith and hope, and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God, our merciful Father."

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