Cardinal reads final letters between Edward Kennedy and Pope

Cardinal Theodore E McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, read letters between Edward Kennedy and Pope Benedict during his burial on Saturday evening in the Arlington National Cemetery in  Washington.

In his letter,  written in July Kennedy wrote: "I am writing with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines. I know that I have been an imperfect human being but with the help of my faith I have tried to right my path."

"I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I've worked to welcome the immigrant, to fight discrimination and expand access to health-care and education. I have opposed the death penalty and fought to end war," Kennedy wrote. "Though I've fallen short through human failings, I've never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teaching of my faith."

The Vatican responded with a letter that said: "His Holiness prays that in the days ahead you may be sustained in faith and hope."
Congressman William Delahunt, a close friend, said the moving exchange, and Kennedy's request that it be read aloud at the service, was yet another way for him to lead by example.

"He understood the need for all of us to seek redemption. He acknowledged his own frailties," said Delahunt. "He lived his life as a real Christian,  and clearly the Pope knew that. I have no doubt he's in heaven, and he'sstill loving us."

Edward Kennedy was buried near his brothers John and Robert, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and two children she and the president had: their baby son, Patrick, who died after two days, and a stillborn child.

Earlier President Barack Obama had lead the tributes to Edward Kennedy at the two hour long Requiem Mass which was attended by three  Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W Bush, Irish Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, Mark Durkan and John Hume of the SDLP and Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

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