The Archdiocese of Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley has defended his decision to preside over the funeral Mass for Sen. Edward Kennedy, whose support for abortion rights clashed with Catholic teachings.

O'Malley wrote on his blog Wednesday he strongly disagrees with his critics. He notes Kennedy had written to Pope Benedict XVI to acknowledge his failure to always be a faithful Catholic and ask for prayers as he faced brain cancer.

Kennedy died last week at age 77.

O'Malley says it was appropriate for him to represent the church at the funeral service out of respect for Kennedy, his family, those who attended the Mass and those who were praying for the senator.

He reminds critics Catholics are people of faith who "believe in a loving and forgiving God."