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Holy Spirit 'Source of Unity,' Says Bishop Kevin Farrell at Red Mass
Mark Zimmermann, Catholic News Service
Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013
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Bishop Kevin Farrell preached at this year's Red Mass in Washington, D.C. (photo, Dallas Diocese)
In his homily at the 61st annual Red Mass in the nation's capital, Dallas Bishop Kevin J. Farrell said that the Holy Spirit can help people seek unity and work for the common good.

"The Holy Spirit is the source of unity on all that matters, and the source of variety in and among the many differences we have that make us who we are," Bishop Farrell said Oct. 6. He said that the Holy Spirit, as it did at the first Pentecost, today "bestows wisdom, clarity, insight and, yes, unity."

The annual Mass is held on the Sunday before the U.S. Supreme Court opens its new session on the first Monday of October, and it is sponsored by the John Carroll Society of the Archdiocese of Washington.

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington was the principal celebrant at the Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Concelebrants included Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services and Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, Va.

The Mass is celebrated to invoke God's blessings on those who work in the administration of justice.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and four current Supreme Court justices attended the Mass, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan. Denis McDonough, President Barack Obama's chief of staff, also attended the Mass.

Cardinals William W. Baum and Theodore E. McCarrick, both former archbishops of Washington, were there, as were judges and attorneys, and deans, professors and students from local law schools.

Bishop Farrell noted that he was making a homecoming to Washington, where he had served as a priest and administrator from the early 1980s until being ordained as an auxiliary bishop there in 2002. Five years later, he was named to head the Dallas Diocese.

While not mentioning the federal government shutdown and the budget impasse between Congress and the White House, the bishop in his homily did speak about how people should work together and respect each other.

"We can and should debate, refine positions, truly listen to each other and seek consensus on essentials and respect details that may well be different," Bishop Farrell said, adding that "if dialogue means anything, it means not only that we take another seriously, but it means that we revere the other as a fellow human being with gifts and talents from God."

The bishop also later noted, "Petty partisanship and ever-politicizing rhetoric should have no place when men and women of good will come together to serve the common good."

Concelebrants of the Mass, who also included Washington Auxiliary Bishops Martin D. Holley and Barry C. Knestout and retired Auxiliary Bishop Leonard J. Olivier and 30 priests, wore red vestments as a sign of the tongues of fire sparked by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Bishop Farrell noted that the Mass offered a time to invoke the power of the Holy Spirit "on our nation's highest court and on our nation's elected officials."

During his years in the Archdiocese of Washington, Bishop Farrell directed the Spanish Catholic Center and Catholic Charities, and was archdiocesan secretary of finance and later as the archdiocese's vicar general for administration and moderator of the curia.

In his homily, Bishop Farrell did not mention the immigration reform debate that has been stymied by the shutdown, but he did emphasize the importance of welcoming newcomers.

He highlighted the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, a Washington parish founded in the 19th century by Irish and German immigrants that now serves many different immigrant populations, with weekend Masses in Spanish, Vietnamese, Creole and English.

"The parish also does what so many parishes do today," he said. "They welcome the stranger in our midst in new and ever-changing circumstances. The immigrants who built the church building and the immigrants who populate the church today had and have very different needs.

"The languages spoken are many, and it is from the many languages that we and they offer praise and thanks to God for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on these shores."

Bishop Farrell also emphasized the importance of loving and serving the poor. "We serve all in need, not because they are Catholic, but because we are Catholic. That is our mission and our ministry. That is not just what we do; it is who we are," he said.

The bishop also noted how Catholics "believe in the dignity of each and every human being made in the image and likeness of God." Catholics, he said, have the right and responsibility to stand up for their beliefs in the public square. "However, in a pluralistic society, we also need to be respectful of those who do not agree with or follow our teachings."

The bishop, a native of Ireland who himself is an immigrant who found a home in Washington and then Dallas, said: "When we see and revere in the other person of a different color or creed or ethnic background the image and likeness of God, then we together can move forward as God's pilgrims on this good earth. When we remove obstacles in the way of welcoming the stranger in our midst, then we truly reflect the best of what this country stands for as a nation of immigrants."

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