Pulpit vs. pol

A bishop, a Kennedy, and an ill-advised flap.

By Charles P. Pierce
December 20, 2009

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Dear Bishop Thomas Tobin: You see, back in 1960 a candidate named John F. Kennedy had to go before an audience of Protestant Bible-thumpers in Texas and reassure them that, even though he was a Roman Catholic, he would not dig a tunnel from the Vatican to the White House so as to receive his marching orders from the pope. This helped him get elected, and it was considered a very big deal, especially by Catholics, who’d grown sick and tired of the sotto voce argument about their divided loyalties. I mention this only because all indications are that you’ve taken to knuckling the guy’s nephew, Representative Patrick Kennedy, at the altar rail because he hasn’t been loyal enough to the teachings of Mother Church in his secular job as a congresscritter from Rhode Island. Bad enough that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops mucked around in the national debate over health care. Worse still that the group was taken at all seriously. Now, though, here you are, doing the old ring-and-run on Patrick Kennedy’s immortal soul (you spoke to him “to provide solely for his spiritual well-being,” my eye; you wanted his vote) -- and buddying up politically with the modern heirs to those people who thought JFK had the secret RC microchip planted in his brain by the Seven-Headed Beast of the Apocalypse. Nice little tax exemption you got there. Be a shame if something happened to it.

Charles P. Pierce /

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