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Updates: Funeral Mass for Scalia

February 20, 2016

The Saturday funeral Mass for Antonin Scalia is at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast Washington. The main celebrant at the Mass is the Rev. Paul Scalia of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, one of the justice’s sons.

  • Julie Zauzmer
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One of the psalms the choir sang during Scalia’s funeral Mass seemed particularly suited for a man who devoted his life to jurisprudence.

“Beati quorum via integra est, qui ambulant in lege Domini,” the choir sang. The verse from Psalm 119 says, “Happy are those whose path is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.”

“It was beautiful to bring together all the reason we were there,” Rev. James Bradley said. “Blessed are those who walk in the law — reflecting his life as a lawyer and a judge, but also his life as a Christian.”

Bradley, a D.C. priest who attended the funeral Mass, said that Rev. Paul Scalia’s homily characterized the service as a memorial for a man of faith more than a political memorial.

“We’ve had lots already of very positive accolades about Justice Scalia and his work,” Bradley said. “The purpose of the funeral Mass was to commend Justice Scalia to God. It was right that the focus today and during the service itself should be on that particular aspect of his life. His Catholic faith was so important to him.”

“It was good that the nation could come together,” Bradley added, “to honor this man in prayer.”

  • DeNeen L. Brown
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The Rev. Russell Raj, a priest from Clinton, Md. was one of the many that attended the funeral mass for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (DeNeen Brown -- The Washington Post)

The Rev. Russell Raj, a priest from Clinton, Md., was one of the many that attended the funeral Mass. (DeNeen L. Brown/The Washington Post)

The Rev. Russell Raj, 47, a priest in Clinton, Md., stood on the terrace of the basilica, reflecting after the service.

“It was an excellent service. His son gave a very good homily, connecting the death and resurrection of Christ,” said Raj, who knows Scalia’s son.

“I like the fact that Justice Scalia was a very strong practicing Catholic,” Raj said. “He was a pro-life justice. That is the true Catholic value, the Christian value.”

  • Lori Aratani
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Pallbearers carry the casket of the late Justice Antonin Scalia out of his funeral Mass. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Hundreds of mourners poured out of the Basilica, following the service of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Alice Boone, 58, was emotionally moved by the service. “It was ceremonial, peaceful and calming. The son burying his father was very moving.”

Boone, a federal civil servant, said her favorite part of the service was when Scalia’s son recalled, “he couldn’t remember all of our names because there were nine of us.”

Boone, who is African American, said she came to the service “because I’m Catholic, and I live in walking distance. I wanted to come to support a fellow Catholic.”

Even an hour after the service ended, small groups of mourners lingered on the steps of the Basilica.

Donald Sanders, 38, said, “It was a very moving liturgy having a priest who is the son of the deceased offer the greatest prayer the church has, which is the Mass, for his father.”

What struck Sanders the most was the anecdote the son told about his father in line for confession.

“He didn’t expect to see his father in there,” Sanders said. “It’s a funny dynamic having a priest in the family.”

  • Lori Aratani
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Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House, center, and his wife, Callista, clap as during a joint meeting of Congress in Washington in 2015. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Callista Gingrich, wife of former speaker of the House and Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, was a member of the choir singing at Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral Mass on Saturday.

Gingrich has been a longstanding member of the basilica’s choir, which is considered one of the best Catholic choirs in the country.

In this December 2011 report, as Gingrich campaigned for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, The Post’s Katherine Boyle wrote that the former speaker’s wife was one of 26 members of the choir. Adding that:

For 15 years, Gingrich, 45, has performed weekly with the choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. She and the other choir members are paid, professional singers who can sight-read on command and easily distinguish Gregorian chant from Renaissance polyphony. She is one of the choir’s most senior members, a steady force in the alto section. Only now is her presence becoming a minor distraction for the congregation, which attends High Mass on Sundays at the Roman Catholic church in Northeast Washington.

  • Robert Barnes
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The bench chair of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia draped in black wool crepe, a tradition dating back to 1873. (Michael Reynolds via European Pressphoto Agency)

The black crepe that marks the entrance to the Supreme Court’s courtroom and the mourning bunting on justice Antonin Scalia’s chair will be in place for the 30 days after his death.

After that, the justices will assume their new spots in the bench, arranged by seniority. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. always sits in the middle; now Justice Anthony M. Kennedy will sit to the chief justice’s right as the senior member of the court, and Justice Clarence Thomas, next in line, will sit to his left.

The last seat on the bench will be vacant until a replacement is confirmed — whenever that might be.

  • Julie Zauzmer
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Several judges who have been named as possible replacements for Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court are at his funeral Mass.

Three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, all of whom have been mentioned as possible Supreme Court nominees, are present, according to the Associated Press: Sri Srinivasan, Patricia Millett and Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

  • Lori Aratani
  • ·

People at the funeral Mass watch as casket arrives. (Pool Photo by Doug Mills via European Pressphoto Agency)

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was to be buried Saturday at a private ceremony following the midmorning Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

In a note in the funeral program, the Scalia family thanked “all those who have offered condolences and remember them in prayer during this time.”

A memorial program will be held for Justice Scalia for family and friends on Mar. 1 at 11 a.m. at the Mayflower Hotel.

  • Julie Zauzmer
  • ·
epa05170643 Father Paul Scalia leads a prayer during a private ceremony for his father Justice Antonin Scalia during a private ceremony in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court where late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia lies in repose in Washington, DC, USA, 19 February 2016. Scalia's funeral will be held 20 February at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, followed by a private burial.  EPA/JACQUELYN MARTIN / POOL

The Rev. Paul Scalia leads a prayer during a private ceremony for his father Justice Antonin Scalia in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court. (Pool Photo by Jacquelyn Martin via European Pressphoto Agency)

One might have assumed Rev. Paul Scalia was speaking about his father Justice Antonin Scalia when he began his homily.

“We are gathered here because of one man, a man known personally to many of us, known only by reputation to many more; a man loved by many, scorned by others; a man known for great controversy and for great compassion,” Scalia said.

And then he turned: “That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.”

“In the past week, many have recounted what Dad did for them,” Scalia said. “But here today we reflect what God did for Dad. How he blessed him!”

Speaking of those blessings, Scalia focused mostly on his father’s family life and his deep faith, making little mention of his service on the Supreme Court.

“We give thanks that Jesus bestowed upon him 55 years of marriage to the woman he loved, a woman who could match him at every step and even hold him accountable,” Scalia said. He joked that Justice Scalia sometimes mixed up the names of his nine children, then said that the close bonds his father helped forge among the large group of siblings were the greatest gifts a parent could give his children.

One personal recollection that Scalia shared: His father once realized that he was in his own son’s confession line, and quickly left. “As he put it later, ‘Like heck if I’m confessing to you.’ ”

“I hope that it is some consolation, if there are any lawyers present, that the Roman collar was not a shield against his criticism,” he said, referring to his father’s sharp questions in the courtroom.

He spoke of his father’s affection for Catholic tradition and also preached about how that faith played a role in his father’s career as a Supreme Court justice.

“He knew well what a close-run thing the founding of our country was. And he saw in that founding, as did the founders, a blessing — a blessing quickly lost when faith is lost from the public square or when we refuse to bring it there,” Scalia said. “Dad understood that the deeper he went in his Catholic faith, the better a citizen and public servant he became.”

The homily was based on a poignant passage from the book of Matthew: “Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father.”

  • Juliet Eilperin
  • ·

The White House said that President Obama would be at the White House on Saturday where he could be reading dossiers on possible replacements for Justice Antonin Scalia.

Obama has been criticized for not attending the funeral Mass for Scalia.

Vice President Biden and his wife, Jill, attended Saturday’s Mass.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama were among those on Thursday who went to the Supreme Court, where Scalia rested in repose. The Obamas met privately with members of Scalia’s family to express their condolences, according to the White House.

On Saturday, as voters in South Carolina headed to the polls, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump renewed his criticism of Obama.

  • DeNeen L. Brown
  • ·

Benjamin Williams marched up the sidewalk, playing his bagpipe outside the basilica. The song, he said, was played was “Going Home,” an African American hymn. Williams said he decided he would come play his pipes when he heard of Scalia’s death.

“I’m not here for any fees. No one hired me,” said Williams, a retired high school history teacher. “I’m here to honor his service to this country. I followed the career of Justice Scalia for some time. He was an exceptional judge and human being. His interpretation of the Constitution and the meaning of the law will serve all Americans. This country is divided socially, philosophically, economically. I hope he is replaced with someone who comes close to his stature.”

  • Julie Zauzmer
  • ·

Justice Clarence Thomas makes a reading during the funeral Mass for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, USA, 20 February 2016. EPA/DOUG MILLS / POOL

Justice Clarence Thomas read from the book of Romans.

“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. For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly,” his reading began.

He ended with the verses, “If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life? Not only that, but we also boast of God thru our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

  • Julie Zauzmer
  • ·

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, gave brief opening remarks before Justice Antonin Scalia’s son, Rev. Paul Scalia, began offering the Mass.

“In keeping with your desire to have a simple parish family Mass, I will confine my remarks to these few words of greeting,” Wuerl said, addressing Scalia’s widow and nine children. “Welcome to the many, many people who are here in this magnificent Basilica simply to show their respect for the extraordinary man Justice Antonin Scalia and to express their faith, their faith in God’s abiding love and all-embracing mercy.”

Wuerl mentioned some of the distinguished guests in the packed Basilica, including Vice President Joe Biden, former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

  • Katie Zezima
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epa05172285 US Republican Senator Ted Cruz, (C), and forme Vice President Dick Cheney, (top-L) take their seats during the funeral Mass for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC., USA, 20 February 2016. US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at a resort ranch in Texas, 13 February, aged 79. EPA/DOUG MILLS / POOL

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) took a break from the campaign trail Saturday, the day of the South Carolina primary, to attend Scalia’s funeral. Cruz will return to South Carolina later Saturday.

The senator served as a law clerk for the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist in the 1990s. Cruz has recalled Scalia fondly on the campaign trail this week, calling the late justice a “voluble Italian” and a “lion of the law, a lion of the Constitution.”

Cruz has also used Scalia’s death to underscore one of the central points of his campaign: that 2016 will be a referendum on the Supreme Court. Cruz has painted a dire picture of America if a liberal justice is appointed to the court: the loss of religious liberty, gutting of the Second Amendment and “unlimited abortion on demand” and widespread partial-birth abortion.

“I believe Justice Scalia’s passing focused the minds of the people of South Carolina” on the stakes of this election, he said Friday in West Columbia, S.C.

“If we elect Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton … we will see the Supreme Court lost for a generation,” Cruz said. “If we elect the wrong Republican we will also see the Supreme Court lost for a generation,” he said Friday in West Columbia, S.C.

  • Julie Zauzmer
  • ·

The opening hymn is “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past.” The words, taken from Psalm 90, were set to music by the composer Isaac Watts, who lived from 1674 to 1748.

The same hymn was reportedly chosen for the funeral of Winston Churchill.

  • Julie Zauzmer
  • ·

The basilica’s bell tolled for Justice Antonin Scalia for several minutes, starting at 11 a.m., as his coffin arrived wrapped in an American flag.

Eight pallbearers carried the casket into the basilica: Robert Banaszewski, John Scalia, Michael Murray, Christopher Scalia, Eugene Scalia, William Heenan, Lt. Col. Matthew Scalia and John Bryce, according to the program.

  • Hamil R. Harris
  • ·
Dr. Carroll McLeod showed a reporter his cell phone full of pictures of his hunting  trip with Justice Antonin Scalia. (Hamil Harris/The Washington Post)

Carroll McLeod showed a reporter his cellphone full of pictures of his hunting trip with Justice Antonin Scalia. (Hamil Harris/The Washington Post)

Carroll McLeod, a physician from Jackson, Miss., came up to the funeral to honor his hunting buddy.

“He love to hunt duck and turkey,” said McLeod, who said he last went hunting with Justice Antonin Scalia in 2015. “There were six shooters. We were down in Drew, Mississippi. I really appreciated his wit and his intellect.”

  • Lori Aratani
  • ·

Here is a copy of the program for Saturday’s funeral mass for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Scalia’s son Paul D. Scalia, of the Diocese of Arlington, will preside. Also in attendance will be Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington.

Scalia Program

  • DeNeen L. Brown
  • ·
Federal Election Commissioner Steven Walther outside of the Basilica (DeNeen Brown/The Washington Post)

Federal Election Commission member Steven Walther outside of the basilica (DeNeen Brown/The Washington Post)

Mourners are trickling into the service as bagpipes play in the background at the basilica.

Steven Walther, 72, walked up the winding drive to an entrance covered by a white tent. Walther first met Justice Antonin Scalia in 1991 in Moscow at a conference. “We were both in Moscow right before the fall,” of the Soviet Empire, said Walther, who lives in Arlington, Va., and is a member of the Federal Election Commission. “Justice Scalia was wearing a Russian fur hat. I asked to take a picture together. He joked, ‘You just want to take a picture of me and my fur hat.’ ”

Walther got his picture.

Today, he said, he was very sad about the justice’s death.

“I only met him once,” Walther said. “He was an extraordinary individual. Even though he made decisions I was not in agreement with, we still honor his service.”

  • Joel Achenbach
  • ·
Mourners lined up starting more than two hours before the service. (Hamil Harris/The Washington Post)

Mourners lined up starting more than two hours before the service. (Hamil Harris/The Washington Post)

Former U.S. solicitor general Ted Olson and his wife Lady Olson were somber as they arrived at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. “It’s a tragedy,” Ted Olson said. “He was one of a kind. One of a kind. You can’t replace a man like that.”

  • Robert Barnes
  • ·

Relatively few people will have speaking roles at Scalia’s funeral: Scalia’s son, the Rev. Paul Scalia; Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington; and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Scalia’s closest ally on the court, among them.

Few in the public will recognize the lector who will read from Wisdom 3:1-9. He is Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of The Federalist Society.

Leo was instrumental in the formation and growth of the conservative legal society that Scalia fostered as a law professor. The group has grown into the most influential voice of the conservative legal establishment, and Leo is a close friend of both Scalia and Thomas.

He played a key role in the selection of judges during the George W. Bush administration and helped in the Supreme Court confirmations of Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. He served in 2004 as the Bush campaign’s Catholic strategist.

The verses that Leo will read from the book of Wisdom say of righteous people: “They shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their King forever.”

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