Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

11/23/2013 (4 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

There certainly was, and to some degree still is, a Kennedy Mystique.I want to address one of the saddest parts of the legacy of John F. Kennedy, Jr., the Kennedy Mistake


I grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, an inner city neighborhood in greater Boston. We had a picture of John F Kennedy and the Pope on the wall. I vividly remember the fateful day when President Kennedy was assassinated. I was eight years old and a student at St. Matthews School.I remember the announcement which came over the intercom that our President had been shot. All the children were asked to remain silent and form a single line for procession to the Church. Many of the nuns were crying. I was crying. We prayed for our president and cried together.  After all, we understandably took great pride in the fact that he was the first Catholic President of the United States of America. I was traumatized. I kept a scrapbook in which I collected newspaper articles, and photos concerning his assassination. My mother kept it for me. She also gave me a card made up marking the day of his funeral with a prayer for the repose of his soul. She wrapped it in Saran wrap and I have it to this day in my Breviary. 

Article Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/23/2013 (4 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: JFK, John F Kennedy, Catholics in politicas, Pro-Life catholic, Pro-choice catholic, gay marriage, faith in public life, Rick Santorum, right wing, left wing, liberal, conservative, lee Harvey Oswald, assassination of JFK, conspiracy theories, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE,VA (Catholic Online) - I grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, an inner city neighborhood in greater Boston. We had a picture of John F Kennedy and the Pope on the wall. I vividly remember the fateful day when President Kennedy was assassinated. I was eight years old and a student at St. Matthews School.

I remember the announcement which came over the intercom that our President had been shot. All the children were asked to remain silent and form a single line for procession to the Church. Many of the nuns were crying. I was crying. We prayed for our president and cried together.  After all, we understandably took great pride in the fact that he was the first Catholic President of the United States of America.

I was traumatized. I kept a scrapbook in which I collected newspaper articles, and photos concerning his assassination. My mother kept it for me. She also gave me a card made up marking the day of his funeral with a prayer for the repose of his soul. She wrapped it in Saran wrap and I have it to this day in my Breviary. 

There certainly was, and to some degree still is, a Kennedy Mystique.

Today, the media is filled with the memories, stories and reports concerning this man who captured the hopes of an entire Nation and changed history. It is fitting and helpful to remember historically significant men and women. Many politically oriented people are parsing his political and economic positions. Each side is attempting to claim his mix of policy positions to bolster their own partisan identity.

However, John F Kennedy confounds the modern political lexicon. He was a small government, low tax, entrepreneurially oriented politician. He was on his way to give a speech on lowering taxes to foster economic growth when he was assassinated. But he was also a man with a deep compassion for the poor, in all of their manifestations. He had no tolerance for any form of dehumanizing discrimination. He simply did not fit the current efforts to compartmentalize him and label him.

Still others are focusing on his feet of clay. I must admit how deeply saddened I became as I aged and discovered those feet of clay. Yet, I will never forget his family, and those searing photos of his young son giving him that last salute. We all wanted to believe that this was a model family. That is because somewhere deep inside we know the real truth about marriage and family - and we are drawn to its promise. We want it, because we were created for it.

This was a man, a leader, an orator, who knew how to inspire a Nation. His message still reaches into the hearts of people throughout this Nation. Everytime I hear those lines Ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country, I am drawn back to a simpler time. Lord knows we desperately need to be inspired again in the madness of this current hour. We are running on empty; morally, financially, spiritually and internationally.

However, I want to address one of the saddest parts of the legacy of John F. Kennedy, Jr., what I call the Kennedy Mistake. 

September 12, 2013 marked the fifty third anniversary of an address given by then Senator John F. Kennedy to the Houston Ministerial alliance. In that speech he laid out an approach to the role of religious faith which resulted in privatizing the truths informed by faith. He failed to acknowledge the existence of a Natural Moral Law which can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason and which is meant to govern our life together in Society.
In that speeach he committed what I call the Kennedy Mistake. 

He gave cover to countless Catholic politicians to be morally incoherent in their political participation, rejecting the truth and participating in evil with a smile with a private/public dichotomy which rejects Catholic teaching. The Nation's first Catholic President made a serious error in that Houston speech which contributed to such a tragic result.

We should reject the notion that we can compeletly separate moral, social and economic issues in the body politic. We cannot separate the spirit, soul and body of an individual human person. Analogously, human society is a form of corporate person. All of our political and economic concerns have a moral dimension because they concern the human person, the family, our social relations and the common good.  There is a moral basis to a truly free society. Without it we will lose freedom itself. Freedom is a good of the human person.

The reason we should care about expanding economic opportunity is because we respect the dignity of every human person and want to expand participation so that more and more of our neighbors can enter into commerce and experience the human flourishing and dignity which fruitful work, initiaive and enterprise can bring, for themselves, their families and the greater community in which they live.  The reason we should commit ourselves to care for the poor, in all of their manifestations, is because they have human dignity and must be received as a gift, not treated like an object of use.

When, as Catholic citizens, we advocate for smaller government, we must not adopt the rhetoric of those who sound anti-government. We are calling for the proper application of the principle of subsidiarity out of respect for the primacy of the family as the first society, the first government, the first church, first school, first economy and first mediating institution. Government must first be exercised at the smallest practicable level.
 
We need to be clear in our use of political language. For example, there is no such thing as an abortion right, even if the positive law currently protects the act of choosing to abort a child with the police power of the State. Abortions have no rights, human persons do. Every procured abortion is the taking of innocent human life and the denial of the true Right, written in the Natural Law, the fundamental and inalienable Right to Life.  Our position on defending life is not about being single issue voters; it is the lens, the hermeneutic through which we must view every issue.

Our insistence upon recognizing in the positive or civil law of the Nation the fundamental Human Right to Life is not about our engaging in single issue politics. Human rights - such as the Natural Law Right to Life - and human freedoms - such as the freedom to be born - are goods of human persons. When there is no human person to exercise them all the rhetoric extolling them is nothing but empty air and sloganeering. 

Nor is our insistence on the recognition of the inalienable Right to Life only a matter of our adherence to our religious beliefs. It is a response to the truth revealed by the Natural Law and confirmed by medical science. The Child in the womb is our neighbor. It is always and everywhere wrong to take innocent human life. The child in the womb is innocent human life. It is thus wrong to intentionally kill him or her through procured abortion.

Our Pro-Life position is a solidarity position. It is a social justice and human rights position. The embryonic human person, the child in the womb, the disabled, the needy and the elderly are all members of our human family and our neighbors. We can never condone their intentional killing as some kind of exercise of some freedom to choose. It is never a moral choice but a crime, whether the positive law prosecutes it or not.

Our opposition to the judicial manufacture of some feigned right to take innocent human life in the womb must never take a back seat to any other concern in the public policy arena. Freedom must be exercised with reference to what is true and good in any just and moral society or it devolves into tyranny. However, abortion, in the words of Blessed John Paul II, is only the cutting edge of the culture of death. Any time human persons are treated as products to be used, aborted, discarded, manipulated, enslaved, traded, made a means rather than an end, we find the "culture of death." We must expose, oppose and replace it whenever and wherever it rears its head. 

Catholics will be judged the most severely if we fail to act in a morally coherent manner when we exercise our right to vote. The Biblical adage should echo in our ears, "To those, to whom much is given, much more will be required!" (Luke 12:48)

Sadly, John F. Kennedy made a colossal mistake in separating his faith from his public service. On this day when we rightly honor his memory, let us pray for new Catholic and other Christian politicians and public servants to be raised up. Men and women who will rise to recapture the Kennedy mystique while wholeheartedly rejecting the Kennedy mistake.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of the Vatican, issued a clear directive instruction in 2002 entitled a Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life. It called upon Catholics to be morally coherent in the exercise of their citizenship. Sadly, too many have not been. Many Catholics and other Christians who hold public office in the United States have hidden behind the Kennedy Mistake and are openly disregarding this clear directive.

One who has not is former Senator Rick Santorum. In anticipation of the speech the late President made to the Houston Ministerial Association, he gave an extraordinary speech in Houston on Thursday, September 9, 2010 entitled Charge to Revive the Role of Faith in the Public Square. In that speech he exposed the Kennedy Mistake.

He also offered another model for Catholic political participation. Senator Santorum's speech was a breath of fresh air. In an age of political sound bites and jingoism, he offered intelligent and impassioned reflection. It is clear that our Nations first Catholic President made a tragic error in the Houston speech. That error unleashed a torrent of tragic results.  In Senator Santorum's words:

"JFK delivered a speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association to dispel suspicions about the role the papacy might play in the government of this country under his administration. Let's make no mistake about it -- Kennedy was addressing a real issue at the time. Prejudice against Catholics threatened to cost him the election. But on that day, Kennedy chose not just to dispel fear, he chose to expel faith."

In that speech John F. Kennedy laid the groundwork for the advance of what Blessed John Paul II called the Culture of Death. He gave cover to countless Catholic politicians to be morally incoherent. Senator Rick Santorum's speech in Houston offered the needed corrective that has been long overdue. Having come to know this gifted and good man, I am convinced he is among those trying to recapture the Kennedy Mystique while correcting the Kennedy Mistake. We need many more.

I have made my concerns regarding both major political parties in this Nation clear in my writing. On the predominant human rights issue of our age the leadership of the Democratic Party has lost its soul. Like many of my fellow Catholic Americans, I grew up equating being Catholic with being a Democrat because I thought Democrats cared more about the poor, the working class, the marginalized and those with no voice. I was wrong. The elite of the Democratic Party have embraced a notion of freedom as a power over others and choice as a right to do whatever one wants.

The failure to hear the cry of the child in the womb while mouthing the language of caring for the poor is unbridled hypocrisy. I reject it and will do everything I can to expose its sophistry. Medical science has confirmed what our conscience has always known, that child in the womb is one of us. His or her voice cannot be heard because it is muffled in the once hallowed home of the womb and disregarded by political opportunists.

There is a dangerous political dualism injecting itself into Republican circles. Many establishment Republicans seek to divide social and fiscal issues. This will have dangerous results.  Its proponent's claim that Republicans can only win elections if they stay focused solely on the economic issues and reject what they call social issues. The Republican Party should reject this political dualism and reject candidates who espouse it! Recent electoral history has proven it is a failed strategy. But more importantly, it fails to recognize the truth about the human person, the family and the social order.

The historic speech given by Senator Rick Santorum in Houston, Texas revealed him to be a consistent Catholic, genuinely patriotic American and impressive leader who gets it. He understands the clear direction of his Church to be morally coherent and he understands history. He thinks clearly and is unafraid to speak the truth. He is a man to watch, listen to and pray for. This weekend, his newest venture hits the screen. He is the CEO of Echolight studios which is releasing its film, the Christmas Candle.

Whether Santorum runs for the Whitehouse again or not, any Republican or Democrat who chooses to do so, should spend some time and study this important speech

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2014
Ecology and Justice:
That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick: That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.



Comments


More U.S.

Alabama Supreme Court Recognizes Child in the Womb Has Fundamental Rights

Image of The Alabama Supreme Court

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Because a human life with a full genetic endowment comes into existence at the moment of conception, the self-evident truth that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights encompasses the moment of conception. Legal ... continue reading


Help Make the Story of the Serial Killer/Abortionist Kermit Gosnell Into a Movie Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In 1852, the great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass was invited to speak on the Fourth of July and delivered the now famous speech entitled What to the Slave is the Fourth of July. Here is a stirring quote from that famous speech: 'For it is not light that ... continue reading


Their Eyes Were Opened: Walk With Jesus on the Road to Emmaus Watch

Image of On the Road to Emmaus: In the light of the encounter with the Lord in the breaking of the bread, their eyes were opened. So it is meant to be with each one of us. The Holy Eucharist is more than a commemoration; it is an invitation into communion with the Living God - right now because Jesus Christ is Risen from the dead and walks with us on the road of life.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We are those disciples on the road to Emmaus, living our lives in the real world, walking along with Jesus who is always there accompanying us on the road, whether we recognize Him or not. He listens to us, and understands us, because he became like us, in "all ... continue reading


Made for Beauty: Liturgy and Music

Image of

By Deal W. Hudson

Some might flinch at my use of the word "satisfying" to describe a liturgy, but I used it deliberately because I want to think aloud about the fact that we were made for beauty as much as we were made for goodness and truth.  To be satisfied by the shape, ... continue reading


'COME AND TAKE IT' Texas AG blasts BLM scheming to seize state land, threatens fight Watch

Image of Texans are rallying against the federal government and its habitual overreach.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A major land war between the Bureau of Land Management and the state of Texas is brewing as Texas lawmakers push back against the feds plan to seize 90,000 acres of land along the Texas/Oklahoma border. AUSTIN, TEXAS (Catholic Online) - The Bureau of Land Management ... continue reading


SHOCKING NEW TWIST: Autistic boy defends teenage girls who filmed his sexual assault Watch

Image of The parents of the victim are insistent that they want their son's abuser, 17-year-old Lauren A. Bush to be tried as an adult.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Abused beyond belief by two teenage girls, who filmed their despicable activities with their cellphones, a 16-year-old autistic boy now says he doesn't want to press charges against them - concerned that it would damage their - "friendship?" LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Time to Live the Easter Way of Life Watch

Image of Easter is more than a Day; it is a way of living our lives in Jesus Christ. Darkness has been scattered by the Light which broke forth from that empty tomb. That Light is meant to infuse our daily lives with the radiance of Resurrected love.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The early Christians lived their lives in the Lord, for the sake of the world. They exhibited a holy boldness; because they internalized the faith they professed and allowed it to transform every aspect of their lives. They experienced the transforming power of ... continue reading


50,000-strong OK Militia declares they will resist federal takeover attempts Watch

Image of The Oklahoma Militia is ready to defend property against unlawful federal seizure.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Oklahoma militia which claims the allegiance of 50,000 members has sided with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his recent clash against the feds. Although the standoff appears to be over, and is not likely to resume, the militia says it is ready to defend the rights ... continue reading


BLOODY EASTER WEEKEND IN CHICAGO: Six children shot in widespread violence Watch

Image of Five of the six children wounded, aged from 11 to 15 years, were shot during a drive-by shooting Sunday night.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With 36 people wounded, and nine people dead, it was one of the most violent Easter weekends in Chicago within recent memory. Far more shocking was the fact that six young children were among those injured. Gang violence remains prevalent on Chicago's windy ... continue reading


Militant atheist organization seeks to ban schools from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance Watch

Image of The AHA says that the line

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An organization of militant atheists is suing a New Jersey school district of discrimination, on the behalf of a family who take offense to the line "Under God," within the Pledge of Allegiance. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The lawsuit against the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 3:11-26
11 Everyone came running towards them in great ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 8:2, 5, 6-7, 8-9
2 even through the mouths of children, or of babes in ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:35-48
35 Then they told their story of what had happened on ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 24th, 2014 Image

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
April 24: Franciscan Capuchin martyr. He was born Mark Rey is Sigmaringen, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter