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Vatican diplomat warns US leaders against exploiting God at Red Mass

Archbishop Gabriele Caccia
Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, delivers the homily for the 69th annual red mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 3, 2021. |

As the U.S. Supreme Court began a new term in which it will be hearing an abortion case that could overrule Roe v. Wade, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, warned U.S. leaders against exploiting God and justice for selfish means like the Pharisees in the Bible.

Caccia made the call in his homily at the 69th Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington D.C. The Red Mass, which is an annual service marking the opening of the Supreme Court’s new term, is traditionally held on the Sunday before the first Monday in October “to invoke God’s blessings on those responsible for the administration of justice, as well as on all public officials.”

While Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was the only member of the Supreme Court who attended the event, Caccia told the audience that justice “has to do with something sacred.”

“It is a powerful reminder that justice has to do with something sacred and that those who practice its administration are at the service of something larger and greater than themselves,” the diplomat said. “This is an important perspective because today, like at the time of Jesus, there is a reason to exploit justice instead of deliver it.”

He then pointed to an earlier reading from the book of Mark in the Bible highlighting how the Pharisees tried to use the law to trap Jesus.

“In the Gospel (Mark 10: 2-16) today, Jesus was approached by the Pharisees with a question: Is it lawful [for a husband to divorce his wife]? Immediately afterward, St. Mark tells us, they were testing Him,” Caccia said.

“Justice is being used as a pretense to challenge and condemn. Or we could say, to do injustice. Jesus nevertheless enters into discussion with them. They confront Him with another question about the Law of Moses. Jesus, however, tries to lead them on an exodus from what He calls ‘the hardness of their hearts,’” he added.

Caccia urged officials to take the advice of Jesus and “place themselves in the presence of God with an openness to understand what is God’s plan.”

“If you do not place yourselves before God in this way, there is the risk to use even God for our own ends instead of serving Him. This is the very attitude that distinguishes a truly religious person from an apparently religious man like the Pharisees in the Gospel today,” he said.

“There are in the end only two kinds of persons — those who try to grasp God and take Him in their hands for their own goals like little children grasping for water only to have it escape through their fingers; and those who ask and welcome God with open cupped hands, allowing them to retain water and imbibe it,” he continued. “We can ask ourselves. What kind of person am I? Someone who tries to grasp God or someone who asks and receives Him? Those who receive God and draw near to Him, draw near to His justice which is one of His biblical attributes.”

This term, the Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, to determine the legality of Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban. The National Rifle Association, is also challenging a New York law that requires law-abiding citizens who want a permit to carry a concealed firearm outside their home to demonstrate a “proper cause.”

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