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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Faith v. Politics; Either You Believe It or You Don't...

Pope Paul VI with President John F. Kennedy
Catholic blogger Patrick Archibold recently wrote an interesting article on politicians who profess to be Catholic in their personal life yet continuously vote against the moral teachings of the Church in their public and political life. 

As many pundits have pointed out, and recently Sarah Palin in her book, America by Heart, the disconnect between faith and politics may have its roots with then presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, who was Catholic and, as such, perceived suspiciously by many mainline Protestants in the U.S.  Kennedy effectively convinced a group of Protestant ministers that his religious beliefs would never influence his politics.  Many politicians have been following this line of thought ever since.

Specifically addressing an op-ed piece by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, niece of JFK, daughter of Robert, and regular critic of the Catholic Church, Archibold writes:
What the Kennedys and the Cuomos do not get is that no matter what, your faith informs your actions. All JFK and Mario (and Kerry, Pelosi, et al) confirmed is that they don’t really believe it or they don’t care.
Which is worse? A politician who gives lip service to faith but doesn’t really believe it or politician who really believes it but let’s babies die anyway? This is why I choose to believe that they don’t really believe it, the alternative is too much to contemplate.
Point is, faith informs politics always and absolutely. So does lack of faith. There is no getting around it. If politics comes first, it is only because that is what you really believe. One cannot serve two masters.
At its core JFK’s 1960 speech was a lie. One can rarely really believe something and act in a way diametrically opposed to it. You do what you believe. Always. If you believe that Jesus is who He said He was, if you believe the Church is what it says it is, you will mostly act accordingly. If you don’t, you will also mostly act accordingly.
A recent list of Catholics in the U.S. Congress and their pro-life rating, indicates that while 28% of Federal Legislators are Catholic, many deviate from Church moral teachings in their voting record on sanctity of life issues.  So, as Archibold suggests, either they don't really believe in the truth of the Catholic Church or they just don't care.

To read the transcript of JFK's speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, see here.

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