A senior Vatican diplomat urged U.S. government officials and judges on Sunday not to use God for their own selfish ends.
“There is the risk of even using God for our own purposes instead of serving him,” Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, said in his homily for the 69th annual Red Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington DC
“Even righteous laws,” he noted, “can lead to injustice when not accompanied by a righteous heart. “
Those who, instead of trying to “grab” God, ask for and receive him, in doing so “approach” the righteousness of God, Caccia said.
This also applies to human relations, he added. “Whenever we treat others as objects that we can grab and use for our own purposes, we lose them,” he said. “If we receive them as a gift, we can start a relationship that can last a lifetime.”
Red Mass has been held annually in Washington, DC since 1953. Attended by government officials and judges, Mass is offered to invoke God’s blessing on civic leaders for the coming year. It is held just before the start of the fall term of the Supreme Court.
Mass also has a tradition that dates back centuries in Rome, Paris and London. Its name is derived from the color of the clothes of the celebrant for the Mass of the Holy Spirit.
Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington celebrated mass on Sunday. Participants included Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough, as well as the presidents of Georgetown University and the Catholic University of America. The clergy who attended included Archbishop Christopher Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington.
At the end of the Mass, Cardinal Gregory expressed his gratitude to those present and thanked Archbishop Caccia for representing Pope Francis, “calling us and summoning us to peace and international unity”.
Archbishop Caccia noted the current risk of “exploiting justice instead of delivering it”. He urged those attending Red Mass to always practice justice with mercy in a spirit of brotherhood.
“Justice without brotherhood is cold, blind and minimalist,” he said, noting that justice with brotherhood “turns into careful application of the laws to those who are dear to us.”
“Brotherhood is what enables justice to be perfected through mercy for all involved, since the restoration of justice is ultimately the resolution of a family dispute, as we are all members of the same human family, ”he said, quoting Pope Francis Encyclical 2020 Fratelli tutti (“ All brothers ”).
The encyclical, he added, presented “a new vision of fraternity and social friendship that will not stay at the level of words.” Unlike the biblical figure of Cain, who asked “am I my brother’s keeper”, he noted, “Pope Francis proposes the way of the good Samaritan”.
The next Supreme Court term will present arguments in a critical abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, as well as arguments in several cases of religious freedom.