I know, “red mass” sounds like something out of a bad novel about satanism. It’s actually an annual event held by the John Carroll Society at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC, on the Sunday before the opening of the new Supreme Court term every year.
This year, 6 of the 9 justices attended: John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Elena Kagan, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer. Two Jewish justices attending a Catholic mass? Yep. I don’t get it either. Especially when the archbishop who presided over the event told the justices to “strive to be instruments of a new evangelization.” Hell no. That isn’t their job. Their job has nothing to do with evangelizing anyone. That’s your job, not theirs.
The Red Mass has taken place since 1953 and the attendance of justices varies. Justice Ginsburg used to attend but no longer does because in the past the priests have preached against abortion rights. Justice Sotomayor, who is Catholic, attended last year but not this year. Justice Alito is also Catholic and has attended in the past, but not this year.
We shouldn’t make too much of this. It’s a mostly meaningless bit of symbolism. But as symbolism, it’s still rather disturbing.