The complexity of the law can have a dehumanizing effect on those who practice it, an American cardinal told a church service Sunday that included Vice President Joe Biden, six members of the Supreme Court and hundreds of members of the legal community.
Five of the six Roman Catholics on the high court _ Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito _ heard the homily by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo; the sixth, Justice Clarence Thomas, did not attend. Justice Stephen Breyer, who is Jewish, was there as well.
The specialized, formal knowledge of the law "frequently becomes semi-mechanical, even distancing," DiNardo told the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. "The law and lawyers are around because justice among human beings will always be an issue."
"Even sophisticated knowledgeable human lawyers need reminding, need a divine fire ... both in their personal lives and in their profession itself."
The Red Mass has been held since 1953 at the cathedral by the John Carroll Society, a group of Washington professionals who are Catholic.
The name of the service, which dates to the 13th century and is conducted to ask for guidance for those who seek justice, comes from the red vestments worn by the celebrants.
DiNardo is the newest U.S. cardinal and is the archbishop of Galveston-Houston.
The Supreme Court's caseload this term involves an important challenge to gun control at the state and local level. A separate case deals with whether the presence of a cross in the Mojave National Preserve violates First Amendment religious protections.
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John Carroll Society: http://www.johncarrollsociety.org/