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The burial of Senator Edward Kennedy at Arlington in Virginia

Kennedy's poignant letter to Pope

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The burial of Senator Edward Kennedy at Arlington in Virginia

Senator Edward Kennedy spoke from beyond the grave last night at Arlington national cemetery.

Reading from a letter that Kennedy had sent to the Pope in July; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick revealed just how strong Ted Kennedy's Catholic faith was.

In the letter, Kennedy, who described himself as an "imperfect being," asked for blessing and prayer in his struggle with brain cancer.

He said he knew he was close to the end and wrote; "The disease is taking its toll on me," "I am preparing for the next passage of life."

"I have been blessed to be part of a wonderful family and both of my parents, particularly my mother, kept our Catholic faith at the center of our lives. That gift of faith has sustained and nurtured and provides solace to me in the darkest hours.

"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 always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings of my faith. I continue to pray for God's blessings on you and on our church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me."

Kennedy received a reply from the Vatican two weeks later although not from the Pope himself.

The Vatican said Pope Benedict "was saddened to know of your illness and asked me to assure you of his concern and his spiritual closeness".

Benedict asked that Kennedy "may be sustained in faith and hope and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God.

"Commending you and the members of your family to the loving intervention of the blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Father cordially imparts his apostolic blessing as a pledge of wisdom, comfort and strength in the Lord."

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