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Photos by Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrates the Red Mass for lawyers, judges and civil government officials Wednesday at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Mass gathers legal professionals

The diocese says the Red Mass is intended to give legal professionals strength and guidance.

– A tradition begun in 13th-century Europe continued in downtown Fort Wayne on Wednesday evening.

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was the setting for the Red Mass for lawyers, judges, legal professionals and civil government officials. It included a sermon from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese.

The Mass is intended to “gather those from the legal profession for the purpose of seeking divine guidance and strength for the coming term of court,” according to the diocese.

And while the Red Mass dates to the 1200s in Italy, France and England, the first one in the United States was in New York City in 1929.

“It’s a wonderful tradition,” Rhoades told the congregation at the cathedral on Wednesday. “Every year it’s something I look forward to.”

Many in the congregation wore red ties, red shirts or some type of red clothing to coincide with the Mass. The color is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, according to the diocese.

And some local legal professionals took part in the Mass. Allen Circuit Court Judge Thomas C. Felts performed the duty of the cantor in front of the congregation, which included singing, and U.S. District Court Judge Theresa L. Springmann read from the book of Ezekiel.

In his sermon, Rhoades talked of the importance of legal professionals and how they need the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their profession and lives, especially in a society rife with “moral relativism.”

He also warned the congregation of the temptation to lead “parallel lives” – essentially leading a Christian spiritual life but giving into the moral relativism of the world in public view. He cited politicians who personally are “pro-life” but publicly proclaim to be “pro-choice” when making laws.

“This stance must be rejected,” Rhoades said. “We have a duty to live a Christian life that’s morally coherent.”