Once, after giving confession, the Rev. Paul Scalia found himself being scolded by his father, the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The reason? Antonin Scalia had found himself in his own son’s confessional line before promptly filing out of it.
“As he put it later, ‘Like heck if I’m confessing to you,’ ” Paul Scalia said Saturday at his father’s funeral in Washington’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. “The feeling was mutual.”
While he was known for acerbic writing, highly controversial opinions and being a linchpin member of the Supreme Court’s conservative wing, Scalia was remembered Saturday as a deeply committed religious man. Members of the political establishment were present, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — currently running for the Republican nomination for president — and former GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, but Scalia’s politics weren’t the focus of the service as much as his status as a family man and a devout Roman Catholic.
Scalia’s son said his father was a practicing Catholic “in the sense that he had not perfected it yet.”
Scalia, who had been the longest-serving justice on the current Supreme Court, died last week at age 79 on a ranch in Texas. More than 6,000 people came to see his body lie in repose at the Supreme Court Friday, including President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
While some Republicans have said Obama shouldn’t nominate Scalia's replacement on the bench, the president has begun weighing his options on a nominee, CNN reported. Obama, who faced further criticism for not attending Scalia’s funeral, has said he would submit a choice to the Senate.
I wonder if President Obama would have attended the funeral of Justice Scalia if it were held in a Mosque? Very sad that he did not go!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2016
As the nomination controversy simmers, thousands of people filed into the Basilica of the National Shrine Saturday, before pallbearers brought a flag-draped casket into the grand church. Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl spoke briefly as did Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the conservative Federalist Society, and fellow Justice Clarence Thomas.
“Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us,” Thomas read from the biblical book of Romans.
Religion was the primary focus of Paul Scalia's speech to the mourners.
“We are gathered here because of one man, a man known personally to many of us, known only by reputation to even more. A man loved by many, scorned by others. A man known for great controversy and for great compassion,” Paul Scalia said. “That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.”
— CNN (@CNN) February 20, 2016
Paul Scalia added his father’s faith informed the other aspects of his life — that his Catholic faith made him a better citizen and a public servant. He said that although Antonin Scalia sometimes forgot the names of his nine children, he was nonetheless a good father.
“He was the father God gave us for the great adventure of family life,” Paul Scalia said.