Miami Federal Judges Mix Church and State

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Religion in a courthouse? Sounds like the Taliban, right? Or maybe the Inquisition? Hell no, it's just Miami -- a part of America where we don't seem to separate church and state.

A new group, the Miami Catholic Lawyers Guild, is inviting the public to a mass Thursday by Miami Archbishop John Favalora at a downtown church, then a luncheon/reception at the nearby Wilkie D. Ferguson Courthouse. They are celebrating the Red Mass, an ancient event that honors "the Holy Spirit's guidance" in legal affairs. 

The invitation to the event, which you can find after the jump, is from Chief Judge for the Southern District of Florida Federico Moreno, Patricia Seitz, James Lawrence King, Jose Martinez, Marcia Cooke, and Cecilia Altonaga. All are judges and all are Catholic, according to William Trueba, a lawyer and member of the steering committee for the guild, which is a new version of an old group.

Trueba explains that religion will be limited to the service. Yeah, the group's name, "Catholic Lawyer's Guild," is on the invitation, and there's a possibility Favalora will attend the luncheon, which will also honor a magistrate, but, "There is no violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment," he explains. "Right now there is nothing on the agenda that calls for a prayer or a religious ceremony at the courthouse."

Whether or not Trueba is right, I don't like the idea. How might holding an event like this at the courthouse make defendants in religious discrimination cases feel?

It's bad judgment on the part of judges, who don't answer to the public but should know better. I hope they reconsider -- and maybe have the luncheon at a restaurant.




Invitation to Red Mass & Reception on April 23, 2009

The Miami Catholic Lawyers Guild

and

Judges Federico Moreno, Patricia Seitz, Adalberto Jordan

Cecilia Altonaga, Jose Martinez, Marcia Cooke

and James Lawrence King

INVITE YOU

to

THE RED MASS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Celebrated by His Excellency

John Clement Favalora, D.D., Archbishop of Miami

Thursday, April 23, 2009

12:00 Noon

Gesu Catholic Church

118 N.E. 2nd Street,

Miami, Florida

***

The Miami Catholic Lawyers Guild

and

Judges Federico Moreno, Patricia Seitz, Adalberto Jordan

Cecilia Altonaga, Jose Martinez, Marcia Cooke

and James Lawrence King

INVITE YOU

to

THE RED MASS RECEPTION

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wilkie D. Ferguson Courthouse

400 N. Miami Avenue, 7th Floor, Miami, FL 33128

Program

Welcome

The Honorable Federico A. Moreno

Chief Judge

U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida

Presentation of "Lex Christi, Lex Amoris" Award to

The Honorable Peter R. Palermo

Magistrate Judge

U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida

Luncheon

***

The "Red Mass" is a historical tradition within the Catholic Church dating back to the Thirteenth Century when it officially opened the term of the court for most European countries. The celebrants - government officials, lawyers and judges - would proceed into a church clothed in red vestments or red garments, signifying the fire of the Holy Spirit's guidance to all who pursue justice in their daily lives.

This important historic tradition was introduced into the United States in 1928 in the Church of St. Andrew, located in New York City. The Mass was presided over by His Eminence Patrick Cardinal Haves, who strongly encouraged and supported the involvement of the legal community in spreading the Word of God.

The Red Mass is currently celebrated in dioceses throughout the United States, including many of the dioceses of Florida, to invoke God's blessing upon the members of the Bench, Bar, Legislature, Law Enforcement and Governmental agencies, all protectors and administrators of the Law.


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