The Red Mass is a mass celebrated annually in the Catholic Church for judges, attorneys, law school professors, students, and government officials.
The mass requests guidance from the Holy Spirit for all who seek justice, and offers the opportunity to reflect on what Catholics believe is the God-given power and responsibility of all in the legal profession.
One of the better-known Red Masses is the one celebrated each fall at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. on the Sunday before the first Monday in October (the Supreme Court convenes on the first Monday in October). It is sponsored by the John Carroll Society and attended by some Supreme Court justices, members of Congress, the diplomatic corps, the Cabinet and other government departments and sometimes the President of the United States. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is Jewish, used to attend the Red Mass with her Christian colleagues but no longer does so due to her objection to a series of homilies opposing abortion.
In the 2011 St. Matthew mass, all three female members of the Court — Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — stayed away, while the six male members attended. Also attending the mass conducted by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who called it “an opportunity to pray ‘for all of those involved in the administration of justice’”, were White House Chief of Staff William Daley, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “[P]ublic officials were urged to serve God as they serve others.