The old Catholic Manual of Prayers for the use of the Catholic Laity says one can aid and abet sin in nine ways. No 8 on the list is this: “by silence.” That same manual teaches that one of the seven spiritual works of mercy is to admonish the sinner.” Once upon a time, performing the spiritual works of mercy was considered a duty, especially for Catholic priests and bishops. As the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia explains it, “That there is, upon occasion and with due regard to circumstances, an obligation to administer fraternal correction there can be no doubt. – Given a sufficiently grave condition of spiritual distress calling for succor in this way, this commandment may exact fulfillment under pain of mortal sin.” Again, Kennedy was buried in the Church. We shouldn’t presume to know what happened in his last few days and whether he died in the good graces of the Church. But neither can we exonerate American prelates of naked cowardice in permitting Kennedy to bring shame upon his family and the Church for 40 years with no apparent correction. They, not he, will answer for this mortal sin of omission.