Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Catholic President

The only Catholic president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, will be lauded tomorrow upon the 50th anniversary of his death. I cannot help but acknowledge that JFK was an idol among Catholics in his day. I wasn't around to witness 1960 or 1963. But I can just imagine. Never before had the nation seen a first lady wearing a chapel veil,
nor a President attend mass with his two young children.
He came from a large Catholic family in Massachusetts. His mother, Rose, had 9 children: many of whom had public service in their blood. His father was a state senator, and his grandfather had been mayor of Boston, etc. etc.
Mostly he is remembered in Catholic circles for his "separation of church and state" campaign speech to a group of Protestant ministers in Houston. Apparently he convinced them. It only proved to Catholics that he had phenomenal diplomacy. One man wrote his remembrance of the speech by saying: "He stared down the anti-Catholic know-nothings and won the hearts and minds of more than a few WASP and Jewish voters, as well as the admiration of Roman Catholics whose ancestors did not hail from the Emerald Isle."
Why was his religion the crux for many voters? Did they really think his Pope would dictate to him?
And if so (gasp), what would any Pope have said: Stand opposed to artificial contraception since it is un-Biblical? (Pope Paul VI actually said The Pill was wrong anyway, in 1968.) Stand against abortion? Stand up for traditional marriage? Stand for equal rights regardless of race or creed?
How is it then that a Catholic platform would be bad policy for America? It's ironic that Catholics and Protestants stand together today for these same principles and value a "whole fabric of harmonious society."

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