Thousands Attend Funeral for Late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

His son delivered the homily during the funeral service.

February 20, 2016, 1:01 PM

— -- The funeral for late Justice Antonin Scalia took place today at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Bells tolled for several minutes when the hearse carrying the late justice pulled up to the basilica Saturday morning. Supreme Court honor guard lined the steps of the basilica as pallbearers carried the flag-draped casket inside, walking in a slow, minutes-long procession down the long aisle of the 3,500-seat basilica.

Over 60 members of the Scalia family followed the casket's procession inside.

The homily was delivered by Scalia's son, Father Paul Scalia, a Catholic priest, with the basilica choir singing hymns.

Scalia’s son spoke about his father’s deep but imperfect Catholic faith, calling him “a practicing Catholic … in the sense that he had not perfected it yet.”

“Christ was not yet perfected in him,” Rev. Scalia said, and instructed those present that “we are here then to lend our prayers to that perfecting … in freeing dad from every encumbrance of sin.”

Explaining why the Mass did not include a eulogy, the reverend said his father did not like them, feeling like they led to an overemphasis on the virtues of the deceased and a forgetfulness of the prayers the deceased still needed.

“He would not have exempted himself from that,” Rev. Scalia said. “We are here to pray for God’s inexplicable mercy for a sinner, to this sinner, Antonin Scalia. Let us not show him a false love and allow our admiration to deprive him of our prayers.”

In a moment of levity, Rev. Scalia evoked laughter during his homily while remembering a time when his father came to confession to find his son was the one offering them.

“He had found himself in my confessional line and he quickly departed it,” the reverend said. “As he put it later, ‘Like heck if I’m confessing to you.’ The feeling was mutual.”

The service marked the second day of public mourning for Scalia, who died last weekend. He lied in repose on Friday in the Supreme Court's Great Hall with an American flag draped over his casket. Scalia's casket was placed upon the same catafalque used for President Abraham Lincoln.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama paid their respects to Scalia at the court Friday and were not in attendance at the funeral. Vice President Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, attended the Mass.

Many other dignitaries, including the other justices, were at the funeral.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich were also there, as was Republican presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

The burial, set to take place later Saturday at a site not announced by the court, is private.

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