Santorum's Speech: Capturing the Kennedy Mystique, Correcting the Kennedy Mistake
Catholic Online will be following the midterm Congressional elections in the United States and the coming 2012 Presidential race very closely
September 12, 2010 marked the fiftieth anniversary of one of the defining political speeches of the last 100 years. It was the address given by Senator John F. Kennedy to the Houston Ministerial alliance. In that speech he unleashed a horrid mistake. He laid out an approach to the role of religious faith which resulted in "privatizing" the truths informed by faith. Senator Rick Santorum exposed the Kennedy mistake and offered another model of Catholic political participation.
Former Senator Rick Santorum.
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - September 12, 2010 marked the fiftieth anniversary of one of the defining political speeches of the last 100 years. It was the address given by Senator John F. Kennedy to the Houston Ministerial alliance. In that speech he unleashed a horrid mistake. 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 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. All just positive laws must comport with that Natural Law. In the wake of his catastrophic mistake too many Catholics in public life, like Esau of the Old Testament, sold their birthrights for a bowl of porridge and helped to construct the current culture of death.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith 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 who hold public office in the United States have hidden behind the "Kennedy Mistake". Former Senator Rick Santorum is different. In anticipation of this anniversary, he gave an extraordinary speech in Houston on Thursday, September 9, 2010 entitled "Charge to Revive the Role of Faith in the Public Square". He exposed the Kennedy Mistake and offered another model for Catholic political participation. We received permission to reprint it in full. (Go Here) Though it is somewhat longer than most articles published by Catholic Online, I encourage our readers to take the time to read it in its entirety. The upcoming elections in the United States of America are extremely important and so is this speech.
We are living under what Pope Benedict XVI called a "Dictatorship of Relativism" in the West. The culture stumbles, drunken on the false notion of freedom as giving some people a "right" to kill the innocent, divorced from norms to guide the exercise of human choice and govern our behavior. When there is a wholesale effort to deny the existence of anything objectively true which can be known by all and form the basis of our common life, then there is no real freedom. Instead, we teeter on the brink of anarchy.
Senator Santorum's speech is a breath of fresh air. In an age of political sound bites and jingoism, he offers intelligent and impassioned reflection. This is a statesman. I identified with his introductory remarks, "Three pictures hung in the home of my devoutly Catholic immigrant grandparents when I was a boy and I remember them well -- Jesus, Pope Paul VI and John F. Kennedy. The president was a source of great pride and a symbol to Catholics that all barriers had finally been broken."
I grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts and we had the same three pictures in our home. I vividly remember the fateful day when President Kennedy was assassinated. I was traumatized. I kept a scrapbook in which I collected newspaper articles, and photos concerning it. 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. There certainly was, and to some degree still is, a "Kennedy Mystique".
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, "Fifty years ago this Sunday 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."
John F. Kennedy also laid the groundwork for the advance of what the venerable John Paul II rightly called the "Culture of Death." He gave cover to countless Catholic politicians to be morally incoherent. Senator Rick Santorum's speech in Houston is the desperately needed corrective that has been long overdue. Having come to know this gifted and good man, I am convinced he is recapturing the Kennedy Mystique while correcting the Kennedy Mistake.
I have made my concerns regarding both major political parties in this Nation clear. On the predominant human rights issue of our age the leadership of the Democratic Party ...
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