Welcome by Cardinal McCarrick at Funeral of Chief Justice

September 07, 2005

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, spoke briefly at the start of today’s funeral for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. The funeral was held in the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, Washington, DC:

“On behalf of the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, I greet you on this most memorable, meaningful occasion and welcome you to the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. We in the Catholic community of our nation’s capital are truly honored to be the site for this service of Celebration and Commitment to God of the Life of the Chief Justice of the United States, William Hubbs Rehnquist.

“We bid farewell this afternoon to a loving father and husband, an outstanding legal scholar, a tireless champion of life and a true lover of the law; in every sense, a great American. Chief Justice Rehnquist was all of these and more; he was a man who made a difference in the history of his times.

“If you would forgive me a moment of personal recollection, I can remember the first time I met the Chief. He had always been so faithful in attending the annual Red Mass in this Cathedral by which we celebrate the beginning of the Court year and every year and, in thanks, he was honored at a luncheon soon after I arrived here as Archbishop. It was January of 2001, a time of some interest regarding the legal system of our nation after the vote in Florida. As I accompanied him up to the podium for his talk, the Chief Justice told me that he was going to speak about the disputed presidential election. I was a bit worried about rehearsing this very sensitive point so soon after the election was over, when he announced his topic to the assembly and began, ‘It was Hayes versus Tilden and the year was 1876.’

“We all have our favorite stories about his wisdom, his quiet sensitivity and his deep love of his native land. We will never forget his friendliness, his true simplicity and his wonderful and sometimes unexpected sense of humor.

“The nation will remember this good man and his contribution to our country. May the soul of William Hubbs Rehnquist rest in peace.”

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Susan Gibbs
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