Thursday, May 17, 2007

Yes, I Am a Catholic and I Did Not Vote for John F. Kennedy

After nearly 47 years of political observation, I am delighted that I "boycotted" JFK—even though I came from a tightly knit Catholic "ghetto." In 1960 there was an almost cosmic adoration of "Jack" which was sprawling across the Nation. He was an idol who drew a huge Catholic vote. However, these voters had no real way of knowing or assessing what his election would mean, not only to Catholicism in this country but also to the spiritual nerve of the Nation. By some kind of unconscious peasant instinct of mine, I voted against my whole family's political tradition. I, a Catholic, voted Republican.

I knew that Jack was a very bright, self assured, handsome, extremely rich young fellow who went to exclusive educational establishments. He played rough and tumble touch football at his family's "upper crustt" Cape Cod home. He sailed classy yachts off the Massachusetts coast. He was a World War II hero in the South Pacific and had (I thought) a beautiful wife. He was telegenic (which quality would eventually win him the Presidency) and was a polished public speaker.

My own little world in the tenement area of Manhattan's west side resounded with the battle cry: "He is Irish and Catholic. How can we not vote for him? We, the downtrodden, despised, undereducated, dumb Irish will be lifted up as a class—once Jack is elected—to great new levels. New respect. New opportunities. New horizons, We can stand very tall. We will have finally really made it. Don't think any further. Just vote for one of our own."

Still, I smelled some kind of "rat."

We had all heard of the Protestant fear that a Catholic President would trash the First Amendment, establish some kind of Romish state Church and probably have some kind of Vatican ammunition dump in the basement of the White House. There were lOmillion homes receiving anti-Catholic tracts in 1960. The nine-million-member Southern Baptist Convention, among others, launched big anti-Kennedy campaigns. Protestants were asked to stand up and be counted on Reformation Sunday, October 30,1960. It recalled for me the bitter, vitriolic anti-Catholic election year when Al Smith, an open and vigorous Catholic, was the Democratic candidate for President. In his case, his Catholicism played a significant but not exclusive part in his defeat to Herbert Hoover. Although I was seven years old, I learned very early about religious discrimination—which was not only anti-Semitic but viruulently anti-Catholic. Consequently, in spite of my discomfort with Jack, I did identify with him to some degree.

However, Colleen Carroll Campbell, a Fellow of the Ethics and Public Forum writes in the Catholic World Report (Feb. '07) that Kennedy was anything but a devout and vigorous Catholic like Smith. He had poor catechesis, gave "not a whit for theology", never mentioned any view of man's relationship with God. Cardinal Gushing openly acknowledged that Jack was never very religious. His own wife, Jackie Kennedy, claimed to be mystified by the religious controversy about her husband because she said "Jack is such a poor Catholic." Episcopalian Bishop Jim Pike saw Jack's position aas that of a "thorough going secularist who really believes that a man's religion and his decision -making can be kept in two watertight compartments..." Robert McAfee Brown saw JFK as "…a rather irregular Christian." Martin Marty, Lutheran theologian, saw him ..."as "spiritually rootless and, politically, almost disturbingly secular."

Although I did not know all this in 1960,1 did read his talk at Houston about Church-State Separation on September 12th of that year. Before an audience of several hundred Protestant clergy, he made his case for disavowing the influence of his Catholic Faith on his political choices. Basically, he said." I will make my decisions in accordance with what my conscience"1 tells me....and without regard to outside religious pressures....no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise..." Campbell writes that many Catholic Bishops feared JFK as President because of his hard line positions against Church policies.

JFK's speechwriter, Ted Sorensen, claimed that the Jesuit priest, Fr. J.C. Murray was a consultant for the composition of the speech. But, Campbell claims that Murray disapproved of Jack's strident separationism since the Constitution does not call for a Public Square" stripped of all religious rhetoric. This stripping is what Fr. R.J. Neuhaus has called "the Naked Public Square." The Constitution does allow politicians and voters to engage in faith-based social activism and to defend their religiously derived principles...in that very Public Square. Yet, JFK made a pledge to "expunge" all traces of religious influence from his governing decisions.2 It was interesting to me that at a recent luncheon, a priest-friend, a respected and older Jesuit informed me with great confidence that Murray dictated that speech to JFK over the phone".

In any event, it was that speech that alarmed me and formed my resolve not to back Handsome Jack, but holding my nose, to vote for tricky Dick. It is only with hindsight that my visceral instinct or psychologist's nose makes sense. Kennedy was, de facto, more of a Deist than Catholic. Though he attended Mass regularly, his Catholicism was more cultural and familial than anything else. His thinking didn't reflect any involvement of God with His creatures. Jack's God kept His distance from them. They were on their own. Once He created them, they were "...masters of their fates and captains of their souls." Jack said: "Our problems are man-made—therefore they can be solved by man...."

Where does one see in his thinking any reference to the fallen world through Original sin3 or reliance on and trust in the power and grace so emphasized in Christian life views?

Those who have followed him, politically, have absorbed his separationism and hence have departed from the notion of public religion. When one studies the American beginnings, it is obvious that the Founding Fathers believed in the separation of any established (or particular) Church and the State. They did not believe in the separation of religion and state. This is a substantive and essential distinction. Yet, in modern thinking (read: JFK) religion, as such, should be kept out of sight. Perhaps, in the home. Or in the Church. Or in one's own soul. But not in Public discourse or decision making. Does not this ultimately lead to moral relativism? Such a possibility leads someone like me, a Jew, to become afraid.

We dread that relativism finally means Dachau! This terrorizes me and others like me because then it is consensus that matters, not eternal fixed truth.4 Yet, this practical relativism (or Kennedy logic) finds a congenial home in the modern American political world (and probably elsewhere). This is appalling to me. But it is even more appalling when it is mouthed by some alleged Catholic politicians. This is particularly appalling because the public debate often touches on core meanings of life, such as embryonic stem cell research, physician assisted suicide, abortion/partial birth abortion, same sex marriages—on the very value of life itself. At, least, the Catholic notion of life! To exclude religion from such debate is not only un-American but dumb.

Mario Cuomo, a brilliant speaker and thinker, in a series of tortured intellectual maneuvers set out (using the Kennedy relativistic thinking) to make a case for the Pro-choice9 Catholic politicians. New York's Cardinal, JJ O'Connor, himself extremely bright and political science literate, had bluntly stated that he did not believe a Catholic in good conscience could support legal abortion. His statement created a huge turbulence in the world of politics. Geraldine Ferraro, the defeated candidate for the Vice Presidency (a declared Catholic as well as a Pro Choice or Pro abortion supporter) was, in my opinion, furious with the then Archbishop who was doing nothing more than his basic job in pointing out the evil of complicity.

Cuomo stipulated in a startling speech at Notre Dame University, 24 years after Kennedy's Houston speech, that there are "no final truths". I, personally, became very disappointed in Cuomo— particularly with this statement. He had written in his Diaries how much he valued his soul—more than anything else. He wrote how much he admired St. Thomas More who stood against the government when it was against his Faith. More who was prepared to be decapitated rather than compromise his Catholic conscience. This was the More who said: "I love my King but I love my God even more..."

In my disappointment, I felt that Cuomo, instead of loyalty to God, used the Kennedy bifurcation to trumpet what to me was one of the more intellectually insulting stances of modern times. He argued that not only are Catholics not betraying their consciences by supporting abortion but they are, in accord with good American tradition, not imposing their view on anyone else6. This has a kind of "patriotic" tinge to it.7 This can be done, he said, in effect, by interiorly holding that abortion is intrinsically evil but exteriorly supporting those who wish legally to abort babies. This could apply similarly to the barbarism of partial birth abortion. In effect, there is ultimately no moral principle which can determine or effect what our political conduct should be.

Cuomo incorrectly used the Bernadin schema of "seamless garment" as background insisting that abortion is just a single issue among many and has "no preemptive significance". This would surprise our Pope who, in 2004, as Cardinal Ratzinger, clearly points out that abortion has greater moral weight than war and capital punishment in which there is much room for dialogue. With an abortion there is none. Further, Cuomo argues that Government should simply carry out the will of the people Therefore, if the will of the people is for abortion, it should be done. On consensus. The interior belief of the government leader is, in a sense, irrelevant.

However, I was deeply disappointed with my fallen hero when Mario, in effect, says that it is legitimate to try to influence or even impose in other issues except abortion. Some concept of "consensus." It becomes most confusing when I recall that Governor Cuomo used his power of Veto against a strong popular desire to re-instate the Death Penalty. His Veto was a function of his personal disagreement with the essence of capital punishment.

It seems to me that contradiction is woven into these positions. In 2004 John Kerry had a 100% voting score from the National Abortion Rights Action League which he defended based on his Catholic "conscience" defined, he says, by Pius XXIII (who never existed) and Paul VI in his Vatican Council. Paul did not convene the Council. John did. Following his poorly formed conscience is no way to be a "good" Catholic. There are American Bishops who bravely point out, regardless of political pressures, that social leaders who knowingly depart from Church teaching pay a price. By scandalizing the Church-going Faithful in such a public way, they forfeit their right to receive the Eucharist. Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, for example, incurred the wrath of liberal personalities, including some Catholic religious for such brazen statements. He has been called "ineffectual" in his position implying, apparently, that silence in the face of evil is a better course to follow. Yet the "tolerant" stance seems demographically to do nothing but reinforce the slide away from the practice of the Catholic faith. Can some of contemporary "lukewarm-ness" of certain Catholics be linked to this style?

Yet as inexplicable as is the bifurcation stance in laity, the twist in the minds of clergy is even more astounding. One of the worst appears to be the Jesuit ex-Congressman (D. Mass.) Robert Drinan. His fellow congressman, Robert Dornan, himself a spiritual/religious/political storm center, wrote "I fear for his immortal soul." Fr. Drinan was a strong advocate of abortion campaigns who approved of President Clinton's veto on the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. We learn that Drinan appeared as a character witness for Clinton during the impeachment hearings, advised Pro-abortion John Kerry during the 2004 election year and turned a Mass in January, 2007 into anti American politics. He called the Amendment to ban Federal funds for abortion "uncharitable." Fortunately, he was forced to leave politics by the Pope himself. But, more sadly, how could this happen to a priest of God? Sexual molestations by priests are bad enough, even if done from weakness or psychological distortion. But Drinan was an intellectual and his plans were calculated and thought out. And much more evil in the long run. Again, is there some kind of linkage with the thought of John F. Kennedy?

The present Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is the ultimate (hyperbolically predictable) outcome. She is called by Dornan "....maybe the most dangerous leader in the long campaign by anti-Catholics within the Church who mislead Americans, get elected and advance the culture of death..."8 In a personal conversation with her in which Dornan urged her to follow the Church's teaching, she replied (with a laugh): "Oh, come on, Bob. What would you do if one of your daughters was raped by a black man?" Does Racism justify slaughter of little human fetuses? Nothing will deter her from being an accessory to every type of abortion according to public record. This year she promised: “I will continue to work to ensure a woman's right to choose..." This means her energy will be directed to death goals—as her leading the charge to kill the defenseless embryonic persons in ESCR. She makes the unscientific statement that "…this research has the biblical power to cure..." For fuller discussion on the falsity of this statement, the reader is referred to my lengthy article "The Catholic Church Supports Stem Cell Research.”

It is encouraging to read that her own Pastor in San Francisco, Fr. John Malloy SDB released an open letter to Nancy urging her to cease calling herself "Catholic" and refrain from receiving the Eucharist because he said "you are fooling yourself and many good Catholics..." Would that other Catholic leaders had his courage and Faith. The battle lines are drawn between life and death. I trust that John Kennedy was not fully responsible for what he set up. Perhaps in God's mercy his "ignorance" will be his salvation. Nevertheless, the consequences of his thought have been enormously negative for the Nation. In my own mind, I am content that I did not vote for him. Scripture does teach that we are to choose life. Not death. I am content to pray for Jack and Mario and Kerry and Nancy and Ted and Biden and Daschle and Fr Drinan and Leahy and other "Catholics" who refuse to follow their Church's Teaching (Read: the Lord's) and who opt rather to destroy.

St. Michael, Archangel, lead us in the Battle for Light and Truth and Life.

1 Catholic system, conscience must be informed by God's revelation and the teachings of Christ's church. Deciding for one's self means moral relativism—each man for himself. One might consult the writings of Pope John Paul II on conscience formation and the 1998 statement of US bishops on gospel of life.

2 Jack opposed federal aid to parochial schools and the appointment of an ambassador to the Vatican, positions he h ad previously held. Why did he reverse his positions?

3 Peggy Noonan reports that an agnostic friend of hers explains the existence of war (and presumably other manmade evils) by saying "...because there is something wrong within us." JFK didn't seem to understand this.

4 “Inalienable” in the Declaration of Independence means “from God". It can not be taken away by a majority vote.

5 Many commentators consider that the term pro-choice is a kind of “cop-out” or euphemism to avoid the blunt and more truthful term pro-abortion.

6 Do not all politicians and lobbyists try to influence others to their point of view? Is this imposing? catholics use moral suasion, to try to alert others the revealed will of the lord. this is not imposition.

7 Supreme Court Judge John Noonan (calif.) has, in the past, seriously questionned the validity of such janus-like, two headed, cogn itive behavior as have many other serious thinkers.

8 Celebrate Life March-April 2007 (p. 2)

Can One Be Homosexual and a Practicing Catholic at the Same Time?

In 1945 while studying for a degree in Thomistic Philosophy at the Catholic University in Washington, D.C, I had the incredible privilege of sharing the wisdom of such greats as Fulton. J. Sheen, Ignatius Smith, the scholarly Dominican priest (who was my mentor), Fr.Robert Slavin, the Silver Tongued Cosmologist, , Fr. Charles Hart, the international Ontologist and so many others. They opened our minds to the great thinkers of History and to the consequences of such thinking. We learned of Occam’s Razor and Categorical Imperatives and Principles of Non-contradiction. But throughout all our studies there was the omnipresence of the Angelic Doctor, Thomas Aquinas, whose spirit seemed to dominate everything we read and assessed.

While I have forgotten most of what I heard from those days, I have incorporated a cognitive “Thomistic piece” which might be a mutation of his thinking (or even a “rumor”). However, it has made much sense to me. He reputedly [1] said: “Never deny. Seldom affirm. Always distinguish.” Rumor or not, using this little schema allows one to attempt to answer the question: “Can one be a homosexual and a practicing Catholic the same time?” I think that one can use the “distinction” element for even rudimentary insight into the “truth” of the question and the answer.

For example, what does homosexual in this question mean? Does it mean merely the tendency [2] to same sex attraction? Does it mean actively practicing same sex behavior as a pattern? Does it mean an intellectual, political, psychological, even religious acceptance of the whole “Gay” [3] agenda? Does it speak of homosexuals living in a same sex union?

If then one distinguishes here and holds that the question asks only about a tendency which is recognized as such and which is controlled by healthy spiritual and psychological specifics, then ,of course, such a person can be, has been and will be a “good” practicing Catholic. There is no obstacle. In fact, there have been innumerable instances of Catholics with the tendency to Same Sex Attraction (SSA) who have become not only admirable Catholics but have attained high levels of sanctity. The Members of the Catholic group called Courage [4] have coined their own phrase, “The platform of Holiness” which embodies their belief that their struggle for chastity (in the Catholic sense) has allowed them a closeness to God, previously not experienced by them. Interestingly, while their success stems from many sources, one such source is the use of the mechanism called Suppression. This is substantively different from repression which stems from fear and is basically unconscious. The suppression usage is conscious and follows a courageous confrontation with sexual drives. It looks directly at sexual compulsions and deviations and makes a conscious choice to opt for interior chastity. It nourishes the chaste external lifestyle so strongly demanded by the loving Lord.

Fairly recently, a Manhattan group of dissident homosexual Catholics met for monthly meetings in which they supported each others’ active gay life. They encouraged each other to continue partaking of the Catholic life and insisted that it was appropriate to simultaneously carry the persona of the “Good Catholic.” The layman leader of the Group testified in a local newspaper article that they never actually raised the Catholic position. He liked keeping it all “ ambiguous.” He preferred to “leave it to the person.” There was no confrontation with the actual teaching of the Church. Here was deliberate suppression with a negative choice. One might predict like a hyperbolic curve that the group would become chaotic and dissolve. It did. Both the present Pope, Benedict XVI (when he was Prefect of the Defense of the Faith) and Cardinal Trujilllo (when he was with the Family Council of the Vatican,) supported the notion that to be silent about the teaching of the Church in this instance is “ neither pastoral nor caring.” This can be analogously applicable to the alleged “love” of the all permissive parent who watches his child disintegrate while he protests how accepting he is. Perhaps, we should label such parental behavior for what it is—basic hostility with a mask!

There can be, in fact, a contradiction in the question itself unless one makes the necessary distinction. Oxymoronic means a basic inner contradiction of terms, within a word or phrase or sentence. “Practicing Catholic and active homosexual” is clearly oxymoronic.

The Catholic Church definitely teaches that homosexual acts are always wrong. Always sinful. Always abominable in God’s sight. Such behavior can never be approved. With this distinction, the answer to the question is also patent. Such persons are in direct opposition to the Catholic teaching and in no way could be considered as good or practicing Catholics. So, should a questioner fail to make such a distinction and hold, a la the theology of inclusion, that homosexual sexual behavior between two men or women is acceptable to the Church and that such persons might approach the Communion line or rail, he would be obviously acting out of order. Logically, any behavior could otherwise be justified, couldn’t it? Adulterers. Thieves. Arsonists. Perverts. Character assassins. Fornicators. Anything? The only requirement, then, is a desire to join the Church. Don‘t ask questions. Don’t have criteria for admission. God will understand. A reductio ad absurdum! [5] Realistically, the Catholic Church is not meant to be a warm, fuzzy place which makes you feel good. It is rather a place of transformation, sacrifice and Cross carrying.

There are some within the Church (alas, including even some na├»ve clerics) who, with loving but misplaced compassion, opt to overlook Catholic wisdom and centuries old experience and, in effect, say that we will disregard the teachings (ultimately) of Christ’s own Church. Recently, a prestigious Religious Order announced that because of financial strictures, it would close a Center in a large city which was dedicated to Gay persons. In the announcement, it was stated that many persons (presumably homosexuals) have been kept in the Church because of the accepting style of the Center. Yet when the Members (homosexuals) were advised that they could continue their religious lives by attending the local Cathedral, they refused because the local Bishop would not support same sex marriages! Yet, in the minds of the well intentioned clerics, these Homosexuals were being kept in the Church!

It was particularly upsetting, at a public meeting, to hear a “searching” Catholic lesbian lament that in a recent confession, the confessor gave her advice which was utterly contrary to Catholic teaching and practice. “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.. so it is O.K”. “Don’t be too hasty in shelving your gay relationship..” The Church will change in time and will publicly accept gay living into Catholic life…” An old priest present at the meeting in some kind of semi-tragic need to appear chic and “today,” suggested that the confessor was just being kind. The lesbian replied with a terse remark that Jesus did say something about those who mislead His little ones and the attendant millstone tied around the neck of the disloyal one [6].

Such clerical malfeasance, especially in the Confessional, does nothing in the long run but confuse and hurt God’s people. It almost appears that these clerics are obsessed with the need for others to love and approve them. This is quite distant from the Lord’s rule: we are to serve and not be served. To a psychologist much of the all giving and all loving stance of these clerics is really a mask for deep unconscious hostility which is difficult to face consciously. It is a similar dynamic one finds in the all permissive parent, mentioned above, who unconsciously says: “Go cut your throat. Don’t bother me. Do whatever you want…” True love is tough and other oriented. Priests are called “Father” and are expected to act as loving surrogate parents not as buddies for their teenage charges.

When once I asked a liberal homosexual priest why he stayed in the priesthood when he blatantly disagreed with his own Church’s teaching on homosexual behavior, he assured me that despite his interior angst, he believed that he was functioning as a prophet. He intended with this prophetic dimension of the priesthood to change the Church’s teaching by working from within. There was little I could do to enlighten him that his ambition was similar to butting his head against the wall. God’s commandments were not for one era only or to end in April of 2007. They are forever and unchangeable.

The threat by active homosexual Catholics that they will leave the Church unless they get what they want is analogous to children threatening to hold their breath until they turn blue unless their desires are met. Spiritual blackmail cannot change God’s Will. Interestingly, the stance of other religious groups which fully accept homosexual demands is unappealing to these people. They still wish to remain Catholics but find it very difficult to live up the Catholic ethic. But that is the challenge of the Cross which realistically cannot be dismissed. Sometimes in my vulnerable and tired moments, I find myself hoping they will join another group, take their demands elsewhere and leave us alone! But we have the obligation to seek all lost sheep which is exactly what the Church does in insisting on the observance of the law of God. And it is important to note that keeping God’s law is not unjust oppression or discrimination. It is a concrete expression of the Love of the Lord for us all. One might recall His admonition: “If you love Me, keep My commandments…” Love, after all, does serve!

There is the constant and beautiful picture of Christ presented as loving everyone and forgiving everyone. And everything. The woman caught in adultery is a favorite image presented by some all loving, all forgiving and all accepting liberal Catholics. God understands, they say, and besides everyone has a right to love and be loved. Therefore, gay people have every right to live their sexual lives however they wish and still have every right to the Eucharist. Put some big bucks in the basket on Sunday – and Voila!--- homosexuals can be good Catholics. Cynical? Perhaps, but that was one aspect of the rationale presented once by an angry gay Pastor for admitting active Gays into full communion in his parish.

Where is the rest of the story of the adulterous woman? Most of us know that Christ did indeed forgive but clearly ordered the woman to amend her life and “Sin no more.” Atonement is expected, even required. Forgiveness has its own painful price. This is understood by those of good faith. A retired top NYPD official (whom I have known for 40 years) after a bitter divorce, entered an illicit relationship with a divorced person. In spite of his deep desire to receive the Eucharist, he refrains because he has faced a harsh truth. The Church regards his present arrangement as “sinful”--- at least objectively. While only God knows his real moral status, he is still barred from Holy Communion, a consequence he accepts with sadness. But he is ruthlessly honest and knows that Mary Poppins resolutions are not necessarily Catholic. Patronizing pats on the head are for children. Adults face reality and own their responsibility.

Obviously, another distinction must be made. What does one mean by the Church? Are legitimate discussion debate, dissent and dialogue included in the notion of Church? One would think so as long as challengers (like me) believe and accept the teachings of the Lord as taught in Catholicism. Those who wish to turn the Catholic Church into a long range image of the Episcopalian church which is so obviously imploding or, even, into Unitarians, are not, in my opinion, of the Church. It is an old and solid principle that one can tell the loyal Catholic by how he follows the axiom: Sentire cum ecclesia [7]. And that means, clearly, the Pope and the Magisterium of the Church.

Like almost every living psychologist, I answer the question with a cautious “ It all depends”.

Yes. The Catholic with SSA who strives for a chaste life and accepts the teaching that sexual expression is only for a man and a woman in lawful marriage, is to be encouraged to practice the Faith in all its privileges.

No. The Catholic with SSA who rejects the Church’s teaching on sexual morality, both as a personal practice and as a belief is out of order.. Until and unless he accepts Christ in the fullness of Catholicism, he cannot be considered a “good” Catholic. He can and should attend Mass, refraining from the Eucharist and should pray daily for the grace of conversion .

Hence, to prepare to answer the question of this essay, one might gainfully understand the value of distinctions. Then make your answer.

[1] Up to now, I have never been able to track down any attribution in the writings of Thomas Aquinas. It might have been Duns Scotus after all.
[2] Tendency is used rather than “orientation” which implies total almost innate pervasion. Tendency avoids this mistake by seeing the drive as secondary rather than primary as do the Gay Activists.
[3] Gay basically means a political stance whereby everything is assessed in terms of homosexual values and goals. This means same sex marriage, gay adoption, equivalence of homosexual practices with the usual historical norms of society.

[4] Courage, founded by Cardinal Cooke and Fr John Harvey, articulates the Catholic view that licit sex expression is exclusively for a man and a woman in lawful marriage. All else including homosexual behavior is not only inappropriate but sinful.

[5] This refers to the reduction of a proposition to such an intellectual position that the mind involuntarily rejects it as irrational and totally unacceptable.

[6] Does one need to be reminded of the horrific consequences noted by the Master?

[7] Loosely translated, “…..to feel with the Church..” Or vibrate or believe

Yes, I Am a Catholic and I Did Not Vote for John F. Kennedy

After nearly 47 years of political observation, I am delighted that I "boycotted" JFK—even though I came from a tightly knit Catholic "ghetto." In 1960 there was an almost cosmic adoration of "Jack" which was sprawling across the Nation. He was an idol who drew a huge Catholic vote. However, these voters had no real way of knowing or assessing what his election would mean, not only to Catholicism in this country but also to the spiritual nerve of the Nation. By some kind of unconscious peasant instinct of mine, I voted against my whole family's political tradition. I, a Catholic, voted Republican.

I knew that Jack was a very bright, self assured, handsome, extremely rich young fellow who went to exclusive educational establishments. He played rough and tumble touch football at his family's "upper crustt" Cape Cod home. He sailed classy yachts off the Massachusetts coast. He was a World War II hero in the South Pacific and had (I thought) a beautiful wife. He was telegenic (which quality would eventually win him the Presidency) and was a polished public speaker.

My own little world in the tenement area of Manhattan's west side resounded with the battle cry: "He is Irish and Catholic. How can we not vote for him? We, the downtrodden, despised, undereducated, dumb Irish will be lifted up as a class—once Jack is elected—to great new levels. New respect. New opportunities. New horizons, We can stand very tall. We will have finally really made it. Don't think any further. Just vote for one of our own."

Still, I smelled some kind of "rat."

We had all heard of the Protestant fear that a Catholic President would trash the First Amendment, establish some kind of Romish state Church and probably have some kind of Vatican ammunition dump in the basement of the White House. There were lOmillion homes receiving anti-Catholic tracts in 1960. The nine-million-member Southern Baptist Convention, among others, launched big anti-Kennedy campaigns. Protestants were asked to stand up and be counted on Reformation Sunday, October 30,1960. It recalled for me the bitter, vitriolic anti-Catholic election year when Al Smith, an open and vigorous Catholic, was the Democratic candidate for President. In his case, his Catholicism played a significant but not exclusive part in his defeat to Herbert Hoover. Although I was seven years old, I learned very early about religious discrimination—which was not only anti-Semitic but viruulently anti-Catholic. Consequently, in spite of my discomfort with Jack, I did identify with him to some degree.

However, Colleen Carroll Campbell, a Fellow of the Ethics and Public Forum writes in the Catholic World Report (Feb. '07) that Kennedy was anything but a devout and vigorous Catholic like Smith. He had poor catechesis, gave "not a whit for theology", never mentioned any view of man's relationship with God. Cardinal Gushing openly acknowledged that Jack was never very religious. His own wife, Jackie Kennedy, claimed to be mystified by the religious controversy about her husband because she said "Jack is such a poor Catholic." Episcopalian Bishop Jim Pike saw Jack's position aas that of a "thorough going secularist who really believes that a man's religion and his decision -making can be kept in two watertight compartments..." Robert McAfee Brown saw JFK as "…a rather irregular Christian." Martin Marty, Lutheran theologian, saw him ..."as "spiritually rootless and, politically, almost disturbingly secular."

Although I did not know all this in 1960,1 did read his talk at Houston about Church-State Separation on September 12th of that year. Before an audience of several hundred Protestant clergy, he made his case for disavowing the influence of his Catholic Faith on his political choices. Basically, he said." I will make my decisions in accordance with what my conscience"1 tells me....and without regard to outside religious pressures....no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise..." Campbell writes that many Catholic Bishops feared JFK as President because of his hard line positions against Church policies.

JFK's speechwriter, Ted Sorensen, claimed that the Jesuit priest, Fr. J.C. Murray was a consultant for the composition of the speech. But, Campbell claims that Murray disapproved of Jack's strident separationism since the Constitution does not call for a Public Square" stripped of all religious rhetoric. This stripping is what Fr. R.J. Neuhaus has called "the Naked Public Square." The Constitution does allow politicians and voters to engage in faith-based social activism and to defend their religiously derived principles...in that very Public Square. Yet, JFK made a pledge to "expunge" all traces of religious influence from his governing decisions.2 It was interesting to me that at a recent luncheon, a priest-friend, a respected and older Jesuit informed me with great confidence that Murray dictated that speech to JFK over the phone".

In any event, it was that speech that alarmed me and formed my resolve not to back Handsome Jack, but holding my nose, to vote for tricky Dick. It is only with hindsight that my visceral instinct or psychologist's nose makes sense. Kennedy was, de facto, more of a Deist than Catholic. Though he attended Mass regularly, his Catholicism was more cultural and familial than anything else. His thinking didn't reflect any involvement of God with His creatures. Jack's God kept His distance from them. They were on their own. Once He created them, they were "...masters of their fates and captains of their souls." Jack said: "Our problems are man-made—therefore they can be solved by man...."

Where does one see in his thinking any reference to the fallen world through Original sin3 or reliance on and trust in the power and grace so emphasized in Christian life views?

Those who have followed him, politically, have absorbed his separationism and hence have departed from the notion of public religion. When one studies the American beginnings, it is obvious that the Founding Fathers believed in the separation of any established (or particular) Church and the State. They did not believe in the separation of religion and state. This is a substantive and essential distinction. Yet, in modern thinking (read: JFK) religion, as such, should be kept out of sight. Perhaps, in the home. Or in the Church. Or in one's own soul. But not in Public discourse or decision making. Does not this ultimately lead to moral relativism? Such a possibility leads someone like me, a Jew, to become afraid.

We dread that relativism finally means Dachau! This terrorizes me and others like me because then it is consensus that matters, not eternal fixed truth.4 Yet, this practical relativism (or Kennedy logic) finds a congenial home in the modern American political world (and probably elsewhere). This is appalling to me. But it is even more appalling when it is mouthed by some alleged Catholic politicians. This is particularly appalling because the public debate often touches on core meanings of life, such as embryonic stem cell research, physician assisted suicide, abortion/partial birth abortion, same sex marriages—on the very value of life itself. At, least, the Catholic notion of life! To exclude religion from such debate is not only un-American but dumb.

Mario Cuomo, a brilliant speaker and thinker, in a series of tortured intellectual maneuvers set out (using the Kennedy relativistic thinking) to make a case for the Pro-choice9 Catholic politicians. New York's Cardinal, JJ O'Connor, himself extremely bright and political science literate, had bluntly stated that he did not believe a Catholic in good conscience could support legal abortion. His statement created a huge turbulence in the world of politics. Geraldine Ferraro, the defeated candidate for the Vice Presidency (a declared Catholic as well as a Pro Choice or Pro abortion supporter) was, in my opinion, furious with the then Archbishop who was doing nothing more than his basic job in pointing out the evil of complicity.

Cuomo stipulated in a startling speech at Notre Dame University, 24 years after Kennedy's Houston speech, that there are "no final truths". I, personally, became very disappointed in Cuomo— particularly with this statement. He had written in his Diaries how much he valued his soul—more than anything else. He wrote how much he admired St. Thomas More who stood against the government when it was against his Faith. More who was prepared to be decapitated rather than compromise his Catholic conscience. This was the More who said: "I love my King but I love my God even more..."

In my disappointment, I felt that Cuomo, instead of loyalty to God, used the Kennedy bifurcation to trumpet what to me was one of the more intellectually insulting stances of modern times. He argued that not only are Catholics not betraying their consciences by supporting abortion but they are, in accord with good American tradition, not imposing their view on anyone else6. This has a kind of "patriotic" tinge to it.7 This can be done, he said, in effect, by interiorly holding that abortion is intrinsically evil but exteriorly supporting those who wish legally to abort babies. This could apply similarly to the barbarism of partial birth abortion. In effect, there is ultimately no moral principle which can determine or effect what our political conduct should be.

Cuomo incorrectly used the Bernadin schema of "seamless garment" as background insisting that abortion is just a single issue among many and has "no preemptive significance". This would surprise our Pope who, in 2004, as Cardinal Ratzinger, clearly points out that abortion has greater moral weight than war and capital punishment in which there is much room for dialogue. With an abortion there is none. Further, Cuomo argues that Government should simply carry out the will of the people Therefore, if the will of the people is for abortion, it should be done. On consensus. The interior belief of the government leader is, in a sense, irrelevant.

However, I was deeply disappointed with my fallen hero when Mario, in effect, says that it is legitimate to try to influence or even impose in other issues except abortion. Some concept of "consensus." It becomes most confusing when I recall that Governor Cuomo used his power of Veto against a strong popular desire to re-instate the Death Penalty. His Veto was a function of his personal disagreement with the essence of capital punishment.

It seems to me that contradiction is woven into these positions. In 2004 John Kerry had a 100% voting score from the National Abortion Rights Action League which he defended based on his Catholic "conscience" defined, he says, by Pius XXIII (who never existed) and Paul VI in his Vatican Council. Paul did not convene the Council. John did. Following his poorly formed conscience is no way to be a "good" Catholic.

There are American Bishops who bravely point out, regardless of political pressures, that social leaders who knowingly depart from Church teaching pay a price. By scandalizing the Church-going Faithful in such a public way, they forfeit their right to receive the Eucharist. Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, for example, incurred the wrath of liberal personalities, including some Catholic religious for such brazen statements. He has been called "ineffectual" in his position implying, apparently, that silence in the face of evil is a better course to follow. Yet the "tolerant" stance seems demographically to do nothing but reinforce the slide away from the practice of the Catholic faith. Can some of contemporary "lukewarm-ness" of certain Catholics be linked to this style?

Yet as inexplicable as is the bifurcation stance in laity, the twist in the minds of clergy is even more astounding. One of the worst appears to be the Jesuit ex-Congressman (D. Mass.) Robert Drinan. His fellow congressman, Robert Dornan, himself a spiritual/religious/political storm center, wrote "I fear for his immortal soul." Fr. Drinan was a strong advocate of abortion campaigns who approved of President Clinton's veto on the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. We learn that Drinan appeared as a character witness for Clinton during the impeachment hearings, advised Pro-abortion John Kerry during the 2004 election year and turned a Mass in January, 2007 into anti American politics. He called the Amendment to ban Federal funds for abortion "uncharitable." Fortunately, he was forced to leave politics by the Pope himself. But, more sadly, how could this happen to a priest of God? Sexual molestations by priests are bad enough, even if done from weakness or psychological distortion. But Drinan was an intellectual and his plans were calculated and thought out. And much more evil in the long run. Again, is there some kind of linkage with the thought of John F. Kennedy?

The present Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is the ultimate (hyperbolically predictable) outcome. She is called by Dornan "....maybe the most dangerous leader in the long campaign by anti-Catholics within the Church who mislead Americans, get elected and advance the culture of death..."8 In a personal conversation with her in which Dornan urged her to follow the Church's teaching, she replied (with a laugh): "Oh, come on, Bob. What would you do if one of your daughters was raped by a black man?" Does Racism justify slaughter of little human fetuses? Nothing will deter her from being an accessory to every type of abortion according to public record. This year she promised: “I will continue to work to ensure a woman's right to choose..." This means her energy will be directed to death goals—as her leading the charge to kill the defenseless embryonic persons in ESCR. She makes the unscientific statement that "…this research has the biblical power to cure..." For fuller discussion on the falsity of this statement, the reader is referred to my lengthy article "The Catholic Church Supports Stem Cell Research.”

It is encouraging to read that her own Pastor in San Francisco, Fr. John Malloy SDB released an open letter to Nancy urging her to cease calling herself "Catholic" and refrain from receiving the Eucharist because he said "you are fooling yourself and many good Catholics..." Would that other Catholic leaders had his courage and Faith. The battle lines are drawn between life and death. I trust that John Kennedy was not fully responsible for what he set up. Perhaps in God's mercy his "ignorance" will be his salvation. Nevertheless, the consequences of his thought have been enormously negative for the Nation. In my own mind, I am content that I did not vote for him. Scripture does teach that we are to choose life. Not death. I am content to pray for Jack and Mario and Kerry and Nancy and Ted and Biden and Daschle and Fr Drinan and Leahy and other "Catholics" who refuse to follow their Church's Teaching (Read: the Lord's) and who opt rather to destroy.

St. Michael, Archangel, lead us in the Battle for Light and Truth and Life.

1 Catholic system, conscience must be informed by God's revelation and the teachings of Christ's church. Deciding for one's self means moral relativism—each man for himself. One might consult the writings of Pope John Paul II on conscience formation and the 1998 statement of US bishops on gospel of life.

2 Jack opposed federal aid to parochial schools and the appointment of an ambassador to the Vatican, positions he h ad previously held. Why did he reverse his positions?

3 Peggy Noonan reports that an agnostic friend of hers explains the existence of war (and presumably other manmade evils) by saying "...because there is something wrong within us." JFK didn't seem to understand this.

4 “Inalienable” in the Declaration of Independence means “from God". It can not be taken away by a majority vote.

5 Many commentators consider that the term pro-choice is a kind of “cop-out” or euphemism to avoid the blunt and more truthful term pro-abortion.

6 Do not all politicians and lobbyists try to influence others to their point of view? Is this imposing? Catholics use moral suasion, to try to alert others to the revealed will of the Lord. This is not imposition.

7 Supreme Court Judge John Noonan (Calif.) has, in the past, seriously questionned the validity of such janus-like, two headed, cognitive behavior as have many other serious thinkers.

8 Celebrate Life March-April 2007 (p.2)