Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Catholic Vote: Caroline Kennedy and Obama

Catholic Vote: Caroline Kennedy for Obama

Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph.D.
Author of A Faith That Frees: Catholic Matters for the 21st Century (Orbis 2007)

Who speaks for the Catholic Voter? Certainly the Bishops, and, as Vatican II teaches, lay persons also, who are especially called to engage in and order temporal affairs (cf. Lumen Gentium, # 31). Caroline Kennedy is a practicing Catholic who knows something about politics.

When I was five years old, I was hoisted up onto the bar in a Philadelphia neighborhood tavern, and my Father had me lead the whole crowd in singing McNamara’s Band. I liked the sodas and the hot dogs and didn’t really understand that we were celebrating the election of one of our own, an Irish Catholic. But I soon understood that there was a little girl in the White House who was the luckiest kid I’d ever heard of. She had her own pony, named Macaroni, and the pony lived right there.

So, in the summer of 1961 (or 1962?) my family piles into the car and takes a day trip to Washington, DC. We are going to visit the sites including the White House. I’m thinking, “This is great! I’ll be able to play with John-John and Caroline and get to ride her pony!” I am too young to realize the Kennedys and the Malloys are not quite in the same league. We get to the White House but cannot get in. It’s too late. We missed the tour. We’re walking away, when I see Macaroni. My Father yells at me not to stick my hand through the fence, but it’s too late. I have my arm stretched out, and Macaroni comes over… and bites me. Just a little nip, but enough to draw blood. That’s the day I learned life in the White House and politics can be rough.

Caroline Kennedy knows that much better than I. Hers has been a life graced and gifted with much, but also a life touched by tragedy and tribulations, pains and privations many of us will never suffer. Through it all she has been a woman of courage and compassion, grace and gravitas, a harbinger of hope, and the essence of dignity in a too often undignified age.

A graduate of Radcliffe/Harvard University and Columbia Law School, Caroline Kennedy is the co-author of two books, In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action (1990) and The Right to Privacy (1995) and has edited several volumes. Her Profiles in Courage for Our Time, continues the legacy of her father’s Pulitzer prize winning Profiles in Courage. As a young adult, she interned for her uncle, Senator Edward Kennedy. For a time she worked at The New York Daily News. While working for the paper, she attended the funeral of Elvis Presley and wrote about the experience for Rolling Stone magazine (so you could say she really saw Elvis leave the building).

She is currently the President of the Kennedy Library Foundation, and director of both the commission on presidential debates, and the NAACP legal defense and education fund. She is also an adviser to the Harvard Institute of Politics, a living memorial to her father. She is the founder of the Profiles in Courage Award, and, in 2002, presented the award to all the brave men and women who were among the first responders to the events of 9/11. For the past several years she has been working to improve New York City Schools. She is married and the mother of three.

As arguably the most famous Catholic of my generation, and as a woman accomplished and influential, her thoughts and opinions on matters count. Caroline Kennedy is supporting Senator Obama.

In Jan. 2008, she published an op-ed piece in The New York Times entitled “A President like My Father” announcing her support for Senator Obama. She wrote: “I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved. I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans” (Kennedy, The New York Times, January 27, 2008).

A cover story in Time magazine once called her a champion of civility. The well known historian David McCullough, who sits on the panel that picks the Kennedy Library’s Profile in Courage awards, said, “She has a strong sense of personal responsibility. She knows she has serious work to do.” Of one of her books she once said, “I hope it will show people there is a process for working things out. To the extent that we are all educated and informed, we will be more equipped to deal with gut issues that tend to divide us” (Time, Aug 1, 1999).

As a quietly public person, Kennedy strives to help us overcome the divisions in our society and culture. As a Catholic, her support of Senator Obama fulfills our Christian duty to participate in the political process.

The teaching of the Catholic church on matters political is well articulated, and is more nuanced and complex than some would like to admit. See the Catholic Bishops’ website http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org/ . There is no major candidate in this election who is 100% pro-life. Senator McCain will allow abortion in the case of rape and incest, and has stated in 1999 that he would not be in favor of repealing Roe v. Wade. The only candidate in favor of abolishing the death penalty and protecting unborn life is Ron Paul. No candidate stands unequivocally with the Catholic Bishops and the Popes in opposition to the war in Iraq, but of the leading three candidates, Senator Obama comes closest.

Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, wrote in July 2004: “When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it … can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons” (Ratzinger 2004. http://www.catholicsforcommongood.org/election.htm). That’s not some Jesuit spin on moral theology. Those are the present Pope’s own words.

Caroline Kennedy and other Catholics recognize the truth of the Bishops’ teaching that “a political commitment to a single aspect of the Church’s social doctrine does not exhaust one’s responsibility to the common good” (http://www.catholicsforcommongood.org/election.htm). This election, Catholics ought to listen to all our Catholic leaders, especially women like Caroline Kennedy.

26 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame on you Father. This is quite misleading. Senator Mc Cain has a 24 year record of voting pro-life with the exception of federal funding for stem cell research, and given recent advances he is open to review this. Senator Obama is not just pro-choice he is ardently pro-abortion. He supports unrestricted abortion rights across the board including partial birth abortion and the right to privacy for minors at any age to seek an abortion without parental notice - We need to protect our young girls from making decisions that will give them wounds for a lifetime, not give them access to abortion! He advocates for comprehensive sex education and wants to stop federal funding to pro-life crisis pregnancy centers. He's a champion for Planned Parenthood. He favors gay couples adopting children. As a person in leadership Father you will be held accountable for the souls you lead down the wrong path.
We are a confused flock because of shepherds like you.

Tue May 13, 10:52:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The US Constitution prohibits the imposition of religious tests for government offices. People who impose religious tests on candidates, which some Catholic Bishops appear to have done, are therefore acting contrary to the spirit of the Constitution.

Of course, they are perfectly free to do so. But it strikes me that this is playing with fire, since it seems a very short step from saying good Catholics can't vote for a candidate who is pro-choice to saying good Protestants can't vote for a candidate who is Catholic. It wasn't so long ago that many Protestant pastors told their flocks this.

Wed May 28, 06:10:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous dpgalante said...

Ave Pater - Great essay. I'm glad that I'm more informed about Mrs. Kennedy, she's got some things to say that direly need to be heard.

Hope you are well.

-Dominic Galante

Thu Jul 24, 12:37:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Patrick Sullivan said...

You are quite insane -- may God forgive you for your supercilious, pretentious assessment of Caroline Kennedy. You should get down on your knees and beg to be relieved of your hideous understanding ala "The corrupted Kennedy clan's cafeteria, cherry picking view" of our wonderful, sacred understanding that the Catholic church has of life and the unborn. YOU CALL YOURSELF A JESUIT PRIEST --- WHAT A WASTE OF A VOCATION TO BE SO BLIND AND WITHOUT CONSCIENCE....PRIDE AND EGO ARE TERRIBLE SINS, MAY GOD IN HIS MERCY FORGIVE YOUR IGNORANCE.

Do you know what an abortion entails, "Professor" - I think not!

Mon Aug 25, 11:33:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Dan Quinn said...

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Wed Oct 08, 10:07:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is easy to take a partial statement out of context (Ratzinger, July, 2004) and make it suit the situation of voting for a pro-abortion candidate. How do you define "proportionate reasons?"
How would your argument hold up if Obama substituted the word "slavery" for abortion - for example: he would pass the Freedom of Choice Act so that we could freely choose slavery? Both abortion and slavery are assaults on the dignity of the human person, and as such are intrinsic evils. Would you be as willing to support a candidate who would support slavery?

Many are looking at the number of war deaths in Iraq and thinking that is reason enough. How many have died in Iraq? Is it anywhere near the 49 million who have lost their lives through abortion?

Think AND pray about what it is you are really championing here.

Thu Oct 30, 09:21:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Joseph Ferreira said...

Ah yes "Father". Thanks in part to "Catholics" like you the most pro-abortion President in US history will take office in less than a month. Calling for your repentance is pointless since you have already sold your soul. Do the honourable thing and leave the priesthood. Fight for abortion rights as a layman and stop deceiving the laity many of whom cannot think for themselves and look to "learned" men like yourself for guidance.

Tue Dec 30, 02:47:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I AGREE WITH YOU!!! SHAME SHAME SHAME ON US CATHOLICS.. WE'VE BECOME SO MODERN "THAT THE TEN COMMANDMENTS GIVEN BY OUR GOD AREN'T IN OUR MINDS AND HEARTS ANY MORE... EVERY DAY WE ARE BECOMING MORE AND MORE "LIGHT, NICE AND COOL ..." JESUS-CHRIST...YOU A JESUIT?! I'M NOT JUDGING YOU BUT... PRIESTS LIKE YOU CAN'T DEFEND OUR CATHOLIC FAITH... FOR HEAVENS SAKE!!! ..."THOU SHALT NOT KILL.." DON'T YOU KNOW "THIS IS THE MASTER PLAN TO RULE THE WORLD"? CAROLINE KENNEDY..? AS LONG AS REMEMBER SHE IS/WAS MARRIED TO A JEW ISN'T SHE? "E.S.1,025 LE MEMORIE DI UN ANTI-APOSTOLO," IT'S A POCKET BOOK THAT WE CATHOLICS SHOULD READ IT THIS IS THE STORY OF A MAN WHO BECAME A PRIEST TO ATTACK CATHOLIC CHURCH. WE MUST PRAY FOR COMMUNIST-SOCIALIST MEN WHOM INFILTRATED AT VATICAN DURING THE 1920'S AND 30'S BECOME PRIESTS. THEIR WICKED PLAN IS WORKING AND STILL DESTROYING OUR CHURCH AND CATHOLIC FAITH.! TED FLYNN'S "HOPE OF THE WICKED. THE MASTER PLAN TO RULE THE WORLD,2000. OR GURUDAS, TREASON: "THE NEW WORLD ORDER,1996, AS WELL AS MANLY.P HALL'S, THE LOST KEYS OF FREEMASONRY, RICHMOND VA, MACOY PUBLISHING & MASONIC SUPPLY, 1978., ARE BOOKS WHICH MUST BE READ IF WE WANT TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH OF HOW DECEIVED WE ARE LIVING IN A WORLD WITH NO GOD!!!

Sat May 23, 09:31:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your a disgrace to the Catholic Faith Mr Malloy. I wont even dignify the white collar and call you a priest. If you don't agree with the Church's finding then get yourself defrocked. Same with Catholics who believe in killing the unborn. Here in Brooklyn NY 7/10 black babies are aborted.

Thu Sep 06, 08:40:00 PM 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey "rich",
how do we catholics get to throw guys like you who clock themselves
in catholic robes and talk through the extreme parts of the body out of our church. take your arrupe
social justice and the deaths that it has caused in the js order and
latin america and leave. have you ever held a job? has your phd and your life to date been paid for by the order and the church.
have you made a retreat in the past 10 years and have you truly
asked for forgiveness?
have you been living the high life
with the kennedy's. are you the catholic priest who gives them all of the absolutions for breaking the laws of our church? sober up my man and see how YOU are percieved by the majority of catholics and look closely at why you are being criticized. i hope you are young and have time to see
the way that st iqnatius had seen.



Thu Sep 06, 10:28:00 PM 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the entire Kennedy clan is a disgrace to the catholic church.They sold out Jesus and the church for money fame and votes.They are totally for abortion on demand and gay marriage etc.You are a disgrace to true jesuit priests who stand for life and the true catholic church.Its time you step down from the priesthood.I pray you repent before its too late.No wonder the catholic church is in such bad shape today.Its liberals and modernist phonys like you that are responsible.

Wed Sep 12, 12:06:00 PM 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am amazed at your stupid version of what entails pro-life candidates! With priest's like you on the job, no wonder the church is confused, meaning the parishioners. Your politics show.

Sat Mar 23, 04:54:00 AM 2013  
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