There was a poignant footnote to President Obama's historic July 10 meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.
Behind closed doors in the papal library, Obama handed Benedict a letter that Senator Edward Kennedy had asked him to personally deliver to the Pontiff.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs later told reporters that nobody — not even the Obama — knew the contents of the sealed envelope.
Obama asked Benedict to pray for Kennedy and called the ailing Senator afterward to fill him in on his encounter with the 82-year-old Pope.
The Time article theorized that the letter was probably just a dying Catholic's request for a papal blessing.
In the eyes of the traditionalist wing of the Church, however, Kennedy should have been asking the Pope for forgiveness.
The Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano reported Kennedy's death, praising his work on civil rights and fighting poverty, but noted that his record was marred by his stance on abortion.
As of yet, unlike some other world leaders, Pope Benedict has not commented or issued an official communiqué in response to Kennedy's death.
One wonders how Senator Kennedy could remain a Catholic in good standing with his vocal embrace of abortion for the past several decades.