Archbp. Chaput’s HOMERUN in Houston!

This will stir controversy… and it should. 

For a long time we have known that someone with a MITER on his head should have gone after John F. Kennedy’s speech in Houston?  It will be 50 years… think of that.

Archbishop Chaput of Denver has.

Sandro Magister has the entire text with footnotes on his site, also in Italian.  The speech was delivered last night.  We conclude from this that someone close to Archbp. Chaput in Denver knows what he is doing. 

Archbp. Chaput’s speech relies heavily on Augustine of Hippo.   Someone really knows what is going on.

Check the page of the Archdiocese of Denver.

Ask yourself this question as you read:

Are the consciences of politicians subject to the Catechesim of the Catholic Church or not?

My emphases:

JFK speech on faith was ‘sincere’ but ‘wrong,’ Archbishop Chaput states

Houston, Texas, Mar 2, 2010 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday evening, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver delivered a talk at Houston Baptist University, in which he criticized President John F. Kennedy’s historic campaign speech on his faith impacting his possible presidency as “sincere, compelling, articulate – and wrong.” The archbishop called on his audience to get involved in the Christian “vocation” of being engaged in public service, at a time when religion is being increasingly ignored in the political sphere.

Archbishop Chaput gave his address, “The Vocation of Christians in American Public Life,” on the evening of March 1 at the Houston Baptist University’s Morris Cultural Art center. The lecture was presented in coordination with the Pope John Paul II Forum for the Church in the Modern World at the University of St. Thomas.

After offering caveats about his remarks, Archbishop Chaput emphasized the need for ecumenism and dialogue based on truth as opposed to superficial niceties. He then remarked, “We also urgently owe each other solidarity and support in dealing with a culture that increasingly derides religious faith in general and the Christian faith in particular.”

During his talk, the archbishop noted that there are currently “more Catholics in national public office” than there ever have been in American history.

“But,” he continued, “I wonder if we’ve ever had fewer of them who can coherently explain how their faith informs their work, or who even feel obligated to try. The life of our country is no more ‘Catholic’ or ‘Christian’ than it was 100 years ago. In fact it’s arguably less so.”

One of the reasons why this problem exists, he explained, is that too many Christian individuals, Protestant and Catholic alike, live their faith as if it were “private idiosyncrasy” which they try to prevent from becoming a “public nuisance.”

“And too many just don’t really believe,” he added.

Recounting the historical context that led to the current state of affairs, Archbishop Chaput referred to a speech that the late John F. Kennedy made while running for president in 1960 which greatly effected the modern relationship between religion and American politics. At his speech almost fifty years ago, President Kennedy had the arduous task of convincing 300 uneasy Protestant ministers in a Houston address that his Catholic faith would not impede his ability to lead the country. Successful in his attempt, “Kennedy convinced the country, if not the ministers, and went on to be elected,” he recalled.

“And his speech left a lasting mark on American politics,” the prelate added.

It was sincere, compelling, articulate – and wrong. Not wrong about the patriotism of Catholics, but wrong about American history and very wrong about the role of religious faith in our nation’s life.”

And he wasn’t merely ‘wrong,’” the archbishop continued. “His Houston remarks profoundly undermined the place not just of Catholics, but of all religious believers, in America’s public life and political conversation. Today, half a century later, we’re paying for the damage.”

“To his credit,” he noted, “Kennedy said that if his duties as President should ‘ever require me to violate my conscience or violate the national interest, I would resign the office.’ He also warned that he would not ‘disavow my views or my church in order to win this election.’”

“But in its effect, the Houston speech did exactly that. It began the project of walling religion away from the process of governance in a new and aggressive way. It also divided a person’s private beliefs from his or her public duties. And it set ‘the national interest’ over and against ‘outside religious pressures or dictates.’”

Archbishop Chaput then clarified that although “John Kennedy didn’t create the trends in American life that I’ve described,” his speech “clearly fed them.”

In light of this separation of religion from the public sphere, “What would a proper Christian approach to politics look like?” the archbishop queried.

Drawing on St. Augustine [In this section he quotes the work, by name, of a scholar of of Augustine, Fr. Robert Dodaro, OSA, who is my thesis director.  His book Christ and the Just Society is really hard, but worth time for the scholar.  I have had it on the side bar for a long time!  The average reader will find this book to be tooo haaard.  Really.] and several theologians, Archbishop Chaput answered, “Christianity is not mainly – or even significantly – about politics. It’s about living and sharing the love of God. And Christian political engagement, when it happens, is never mainly the task of the clergy.”

“That work belongs to lay believers who live most intensely in the world,” he asserted.

“Christian faith is not a set of ethics or doctrines. It’s not a group of theories about social and economic justice. All these things have their place. All of them can be important. But a Christian life begins in a relationship with Jesus Christ; and it bears fruit in the justice, mercy and love we show to others because of that relationship.” This fundamental relationship then informs how we involve ourselves in public life, he explained.

“As I was preparing these comments for tonight,” he added, “I listed all the urgent issues that demand our attention as believers: abortion; immigration; our obligations to the poor, the elderly and the disabled; questions of war and peace; our national confusion about sexual identity and human nature, and the attacks on marriage and family life that flow from this confusion; the growing disconnection of our science and technology from real moral reflection; the erosion of freedom of conscience in our national health-care debates; the content and quality of the schools that form our children.”

Because of the immensity of these issues, the Denver archbishop stressed that Christians need to united in their societal involvement. “The vocation of Christians in American public life does not have a Baptist or Catholic or Greek Orthodox or any other brand-specific label. Our job is to love God, preach Jesus Christ, serve and defend God’s people, and sanctify the world as his agents. To do that work, we need to be one. Not ‘one’ in pious words or good intentions, but really one, perfectly one, in mind and heart and action, as Christ intended,” he said.

Archbishop Chaput concluded his remarks by saying that “We live in a country that was once – despite its sins and flaws – deeply shaped by Christian faith. It can be so again. But we will do that together, or we won’t do it at all.”

“We need to remember the words of St. Hilary from so long ago: Unum sunt, qui invicem sunt. ‘They are one, who are wholly for each other.’ May God grant us the grace to love each other, support each other and live wholly for each other in Jesus Christ – so that we might work together in renewing the nation that has served human freedom so well.”

Remember Ratzinger to McCarrick… USCCB letters about voting… the Pelosi and Bidens of the world… the Card. Cottier nonesense… Notre Shame.

And do you remember the 2006 letter written by 55 Democrat Catholics in the House of Representatives who wrote to Card. McCarrick claiming, based on a twisting of Christifideles laici, that they can shape social doctrine from their role as laypeople because of their expertise, etc?

It goes all the way back to the hellish 1964 conclave in Hyannisport…. and before.

The rot set in and it began with John F. Kennedy.

This will stir controversy.  And it should.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Sedgwick says:

    I notice +Chaput begins his description of Kennedy’s speech with the word “sincere.” I wish I had a dinero for every Catholic theologian (esp. Xavier theologians) who introduced his dissent by claiming that he was a “sincere, faithful and committed” Catholic – as if those qualities were somehow supposed to override, and cause us not to notice, the fact that he was a heretic.

  2. FrCharles says:

    Outstanding! That’s my Capuchin brother!

  3. chloesmom says:

    Easy to trash someone 50 yrs after the fact, and nearly 50 yrs. after he’s dead. The Bishop may make some good points, but this leaves a rather sour taste in my mouth. Seems that some see the Kennedy family as having horns and tails, and wielding pitchforks. Obviously they weren’t saints either, but describing them as “hellish” is a bit much. [Do you know what that meeting in Hyannisport was about?]

  4. David says:

    Wonderful. This is a vindication for me.

    Every time I’ve said the same thing these past decades I’ve been blasted from the left and from the right, with the right canonizing Kennedy.

    Finally an episcopal voice that is being heard!

  5. Brian Day says:


    What exactly did +Chaput say that left a sour taste in your mouth? Was it that he correctly called out an error that JFK made so long ago? Especially with all of the caveats given, how was JFK trashed?

    +Chaput was exactly right in his content and his tone. Bravo.

    Oh, and the “hellish” remark was from our gracious host to describe a conference, not the participants.

  6. Sid says:

    Our 4th worst president. And the Houston speech is just an example.

  7. TNCath says:

    This is BIG news! I just hope the “mainstream media” of CBS, NBC, and CNN don’t ignore it like they did the pro-life march in Washington.

    Prayers and best wishes to Archbishop Chaput for his this excellent and courageous address!

  8. Deo volente says:

    I read this speech in a sense of awe! Archbishop Chaput (I pray to God he is soon “Cardinal Chaput”) has put into words what I’ve felt and stated all these many years. May the Truth echo and resound! The link to Saint Augustine is magnificent!

  9. Roland de Chanson says:

    Fr. Charles: Outstanding! That’s my Capuchin brother!

    And kudos to your Capuchin brother for his moral perspicuity. Would that Cardinal Cushing had had the prescience to have averted the easy descent to Avernus that followed.

    But what of your other Capuchin brother, O’Malley of Boston, who recently lent his cardinalitial eminenece to the exsequies of Kennedy’s brother, the latest lucifer of that hellish clan?

    Obiter dictum: no lover of the Kennedys, I think “hellish” is mere hyperbolic bombast and does nothing to illuminate the dilemma faced by Catholic politicians serving in a secular government.

    Barba non facit philosophum nec monachum cucullus.

  10. JARay says:

    Yes, I read the whole thing on Sandro Magister’s blog and thought GREAT!
    Archbishop Chaput is a wonderful example of what a bishop should be.

  11. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Abp. Chaput’s Houston speech echoes his relatively recent book “Render Unto Caesar”, which should be circulated broadly.

  12. Tominellay says:

    This is exactly the answer to Chris Matthews, who began his bushwhacking of Bp. Tobin a couple months ago by quoting JFK’s “gospel”.

    And I wonder if Archbishop Chaput is mulling an offer of a sideways move to another archdiocese somewhere in the Southwest…

  13. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    Deo Gratias!

    As I grew older, the haligraphy of the Kennedy family became more tarnished, I NOW understand why my paternal grandmother, of a devote German Catholic ancestry NEVER liked John F. Kennedy or the rest of the Kennedys.

  14. ghlad says:

    Yeargh, I need to get more connected to the Houston community. I had no idea Bishop Chaput was speaking here last night, I would have loved to have gone. Bp. Chaput is a great man and needs our prayers. Thank you so much for sharing this, Fr. Z.

  15. TNCath says:

    Tominellay: “This is exactly the answer to Chris Matthews, who began his bushwhacking of Bp. Tobin a couple months ago by quoting JFK’s “gospel”.

    And I wonder if Archbishop Chaput is mulling an offer of a sideways move to another archdiocese somewhere in the Southwest…”

    I would love to see Chris Matthews attempt to take on Archbishop Chaput! As for that “sideways move,” I think just watching Archbishop Chaput as coadjutor to Cardinal Mahony would be a sight to behold, but that might just be too much to wish for! I do think, however, that Archbishop Chaput is certainly “red hat material,” either in Denver, which would mean making the archdiocese a cardinalatial see, or elsewhere. The former is within the bounds of possibility considering what happened in Houston and also through the possible influence of its former archbishop, Cardinal Stafford.

  16. Dr. Eric says:

    Hmmm, Cardinal Chaput, I like the sound of that. I also like someone’s suggestion that he move somewhere to the Southwest.

    Yes, he is a great bishop and any territory that has him for a leader is especially blessed.

    As a Gen-Xer I still am puzzled about the cult of personality that surrounds Kennedy. If we are going to follow the lead of a good Catholic politician we’d better dig back further in history to the likes of St. Thomas More.

  17. Gregg the Obscure says:

    As a native Denverite, I’d be astonished if my hometown became a cardinalatial see. Not a very big total population and not a heavily Catholic one. FWIW, his excellency turns 66 this autumn. Los Angeles might need someone with a bit more youth and energy. For instance, Abp. Jose Gomez of San Antonio is only 58.

  18. Jordanes says:

    Just the other day I read a letter to the editor from somebody decrying the U.S. bishops’ efforts to prevent federal funding of abortion in Pres. Obama’s and the Democrats’ alleged reform of health care. The letter writer cited JFK’s speech to argue that Catholics should never allow their faith to inform or form their political activity.

  19. John F. Kennedy says:

    The President, whom I am named after, publicly turned his back on Christ and His Church with that speech.

    If you are Christian, I think more so if your are a faithful Catholic, your faith should be reflected in all of your actions. We should be a reflection of Christ’s light. To say that the Church (and faith) will not have impact on your public actions is to deny Christ in your life.

    Sadly, after he was gone, we found out that he also didn’t allow the Church to have much impact in his private life either. Additionally many people (the media) willingly covered his sins and have tried to make him into a “saint”.

  20. Jordanes says:

    Sedgwick said: I notice +Chaput begins his description of Kennedy’s speech with the word “sincere.” I wish I had a dinero for every Catholic theologian (esp. Xavier theologians) who introduced his dissent by claiming that he was a “sincere, faithful and committed” Catholic – as if those qualities were somehow supposed to override, and cause us not to notice, the fact that he was a heretic.

    Re “sincere” — wasn’t it President Truman who said the worst thing you could ever say about a man is that he meant well?

  21. EXCHIEF says:

    The Archbishop was entirely correct. While it unfortunately took 50 years to point out the many evil effects of Kennedy’s words (not to mention the evil which came out of the Hyannisport conclave) it needed to be said if there is any hope of turning around so-called Catholic politicians and the current “catholic” political mindset. God comes before State yet there have been, since Kennedy and including him, too many Catholic politicians who have justified votes which not merely violate Church teaching but natural law.

    As for those upset about belatedly criticizing the Kennedy family I’m sorry but the criticism is well deserved. As prominent “Catholics” they had (and the remaining offspring have) a special obligation to uphold Catholic teaching in the public square. They not only failed to do that but failed badly.

  22. rakesvines says:

    Thank you Fr. Z for the analysis and background info specially on Hyannisport conclave. Abp. Chaput has a
    Facebook page that I am a fan of. And yes, Card. O’Malley’s recent request from the Pope to clarify the
    pastoral treatment of Catholic politicians who support abortion leaves me speechless because, the words
    that come to mind are ineffable – in a dark sense. How can this man of the church turne into an
    obsfuscating politician. He just enrages me to the point of sin – well almost.

  23. Scott W. says:

    Easy to trash someone 50 yrs after the fact, and nearly 50 yrs. after he’s dead.

    Respectfully, we need to get away from this idea that pointing out error in someone’s writings or speech amounts to trashing them personally.

  24. TNCath says:

    Dr. Eric: “As a Gen-Xer I still am puzzled about the cult of personality that surrounds Kennedy. If we are going to follow the lead of a good Catholic politician we’d better dig back further in history to the likes of St. Thomas More.”

    A lot of the “cult of personality” that surrounded Kennedy came from the American Catholic hierarchy and community itself. Leading the charge was arguably one of JFK’s biggest supporters: the late Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston. Cardinal Cushing was a very politically astute, street smart Boston native who was often at odds with the Vatican on Church issues, and, having been allies with old Joe Kennedy for years and years, never addressed the Kennedy’s ability to compartmentalize faith from practice. In many ways, Cardinal Cushing was a pioneer in the movement to “Americanize’ the Church, from which, I think, the Church in Boston (and the U.S., for that matter) has never fully recovered.

  25. TJerome says:

    Most (not all) “Catholic” Democrats are fake Catholics. And Jack Kennedy was their leader. Kennedy was not a practicing Catholic in the meaningful sense of the word, although his mother, Rose was almost fanatical in her devotion to the Church. I was always surprised that once Roe v Wade was issued that she allowed her children to remain in the “Party of Death” but perhaps by then she was too old and too weak to challenge her family. Cardinal Cushing was part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  26. Central Valley says:

    Chaput to Los Angeles with a red hat! Oremus. This speech will rock the California bishops, with the exception of Bp. Cordleone. In the California Bishops Conference it is party above faith.

  27. Nathan says:

    A very good speech, meaty food for thought.

    I was also intrigued by Fr. Z’s comment: “Sandro Magister has the entire text with footnotes on his site, also in Italian. The speech was delivered last night. We conclude from this that someone close to Archbp. Chaput in Denver knows what he is doing.”

    Who would be the intended audience in Rome? [I think answer is “yes”. (read “everyone”) o{];¬) ] Why would Archbishop Chaput’s comments need to be recieved in Rome, aside from confirming a useful contribution to the Holy Father’s “Marshall Plan?”

    In Christ,

  28. Gregg the Obscure says:

    “Who would be the intended audience in Rome? Why would Archbishop Chaput’s comments need to be recieved in Rome, aside from confirming a useful contribution to the Holy Father’s “Marshall Plan?””

    Some will be upset by what Abp. Chaput said. Some among them are likely to mischaracterize the speech in one way or another. The timely and accurate translation of the speech takes away one of the more common tricks that media types use to forward their evil causes.

  29. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I remember a conversation some years ago with priests who spoke of the vacancy in Denver. One priest said, “I think Chaput would be great in Denver” and another guy said something to the effect of “That would be too much to hope for.” LOL.

    Actually, Los Angeles does not need someone who is young and energetic. Mahony arrived quite young and at 74 is still more physically fit and energetic than most of the U.S. hierarchy.

    What Los Angeles needs is a prophetic archbishop who will teach the Catholic faith in such a way that “this will stir controversy” has to preface most of his speeches. To be fair, Mahony has had his moments when he spoke truth to power and rattled cages with the Catholic viewpoint. But like most bishops, his main strategy is to defend issues of social justice while avoiding controversy on moral and sacramental teaching.

    The times call for a different approach. No, I do not think a Cardinal Chaput in Los Angeles is too much to hope for. He is not afraid to challenge people on their moral and sacramental understanding. But like Bishop Cordileone, he will have stinging words as well for those who are unjust toward the poor and downtrodden.

  30. JonM says:

    This is a good address.

    Reading it over a couple times, I can only compare this to being on a large ship that has been sailed far away from the proper course. From the brig, I feel a pronounced shifting and I hear loud creaking as the vessel is finally turning around from its direction into nothingness.

    With that said, I do have some criticisms that I hope are constructive and respectful.

    If I were a Protestant in the audience, I would most likely come away with the idea that I’m perfectly fine in the eyes of the Romans. Perhaps I would see Catholicism as a less-evolved variant of Christianity but none the less tolerable now.

    Or maybe I would feel vindicated in my attacks on it because the Roman Church appears to be teaching something quite different from many official statements from many Popes. If the Catholic Church is in conflict with itself, this is only more evidence that it is a ‘church of man-made traditions.’

    I’m not seeing the instructive element of this; yes, fine, Baptists preach the Gospel. But they do so improperly. If one preaches the Gospel incorrectly, that is hardly something to be praised, at least from my perspective. If we as Catholics believe in a single objective truth, and we say that we do each Sunday, then it is our duty to instruct those in error.

    Recently I heard a well-known prelate in the Mid-Atlantic state something very similar on the radio: words to the effect that preaching the Gospel is evangelism and Protestants do this well. A few days ago, another American Bishop praised the Mormon religion, a community that not even Presbyterians accept as Christian. Again, not a ounce of corrective instruction.

    In that, is it any wonder that our identity as Catholic Christians, that is, those in the only Church founded by God, is at a dismal low point? Is this not occassion for confusion to the common person? Most people don’t read theology in their own time or deeply contemplate the mysteries of God; in one way or another, they depend on their Bishops to lead them.

    It appears to any casual onlooker that the faith has been Protestantized, toned down, and frankly changed. The vogue interpretation of John 17 doesn’t really help matters, as the net effect will be:

    – barely any Protestant converts to the true faith (and many of those who do convert will have a negative view of the ‘pre-VII Church’)

    – more Catholics becoming lax in their prayer, practice, and preparation (‘If even the Baptists are okay, why in the world should I torture myself with all these rules?’

    – a more secularized society (if the Church’s leaders refuse to lead in the confidence and love Christ, we can forget about getting even basic natural law principles firm footing)

    Granted, I have commented that I am not very excited about the Manhattan Declaration. Many conservatives are; indeed, I see it as a prolonging of the incorrect interpretation of religious liberty.

    I hardly see any young people (18-35) in Mass today. They won’t be drawn in by Hass or nice sounding fluff or uninspiring rites. Haugen just isn’t much of a motivation and neither is ‘the important thing is that we are all Christians and boy America sure is blessed to have enjoyed a Calvinist past.’ I think the American Indians would have something to say about this, but that’s a different topic.

    Pope Benedict is a very holy man and is clearly doing the will of the Spirit. It would be nice to wake up and it be ordered that only the traditional liturgy be allowed in the Latin Church (the OF could be surpressed because it is not an organic development but rather was manufactured by men of seriously questionable aims.) However, we know what this would do and it is not what God wants.

    It will be up to a future Holy Father to be the tough love parent having the tracks fixed already. Young people will come back to the Church if the Church’s leaders act confidently. It’s just like courting a woman: Obsess about always saying the right thing and she’s going to detect insecurity. Once you forget about pretenses and just, well, act like a man, she likes you because you are confident!

    Young people want a bishop to tell them that not everything is ok and yeah we all risk hell if we live according to the world and yeah we do have to do a lot in order to walk with Christ. And there is a hierarchy to everything be it needs, roles, society, or the Church.

    We know how TLM is so effective that even some Anglicans are using it again to draw in young people. We know that no one under the age of 60 is wowed by a vestment that belongs on the bridge of the USS Enterprise, but damn, a confident Bishop in elaborate and ornate dress is just magnetic.

    So this speech is good in that we are throwing the wheel around, but the next step is to keep turning it all the way and raise the sails to get out of the mess we are in now.

  31. ssoldie says:

    Phil Harris use to say,people,people,people, I say Catholics,Catholics,Catholics,read,read,read, one of the better books that has come out in the last couple years, is Phillip Lawler’s The Faithful Departed. The collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture. I would say it was the beginning, collapse of Catholic culture.

  32. FrCharles says:

    Roland: I expect to be moving back to Boston one of these days, and if I find an opportune moment I will ask.

  33. JosephMary says:

    My Franciscan bishop!

    Yes, with more like him, what a change in this country!
    As for L.A.–white martyrdom for whoever takes on that place and who is charged with bringing it back to norms.

    I am happy to be in the archdiocese of Denver. My own parish has a new pastor who is finally cleaning out the last of the liberal liturgical abuses. It is a good thing.

  34. Roland de Chanson says:

    TJerome: Cardinal Cushing was part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    What is the problem you’re referring to? And what is the solution?

    Cardinal Cushing was a man of abundant humanity, who knew instinctively what the Catholic response to evil should be. Witness the dressing down of Fr. Feeney for his perversion of extra ecclesiam and his anti-Semitic diatribes (Cushing’s brother-in-law was Jewish). He was famously a friend to the Boston Jewish community, raising funds after a fire destroyed the nightclub of Stanley Blinstrub, who was Jewish, and who had in his turn raised money for Cushing’s charities.

    When Jacqueline Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis, a divorced Greek Orthodox, and was roundly excoriated by sanctimonious hypocrites in the pews, Cushing called for Catholics to practice a little Christian charity towards her.

    Were he leading the Archdiocese today, he’d have assembled an army of all faiths to march on the Statehouse to avoid shutting down Catholic Charities adoption program because of the opposition of simpering solons soft on sodomy.

    He did not see the world in black and white, nor did Christ. He would not have used the Eucharist as a political whipping post. But he knew that Catholics had to compromise to succeed in a secular and Protestant-dominated country.

    He said that if he had not become a priest, he might have become a politician. He did not disdain the polician’s vocation; had he not been a Prince of the Church, he would have been a Catholic statesman par excellence. He was a giant whose legacy passed on to dwarfs: Medeiros, Law, O’Malley.

    Parem ei mox non visuri sumus. Requiem aeternam.

  35. mpm says:

    Archbishop Chaput has delivered a wonderfully clear address here. The clarity of his thought, and its progression is really impressive. And all that apart from the fact that he’s right. His review of Fr. Dodaro’s Augustinian analysis is right in line with Pope Benedict’s message in the second half of Spe salvi.

    Thanks, Fr. Z, I hadn’t picked up on this talk until I saw it here.

  36. Jackie L says:

    I’m unsure about this meeting in Hyannisport in 1964. As was cited, Ted Kennedy appears to have still been pro-life until at least until 1971, Sargent and Eunice Shriver never wavered in their pro-life views, as far as I know RFK was not a promoter of abortion. This being the case, I don’t know how effective this meeting was.

    What I think is interesting about this period of time from a political view is, is that so many people changed sides. Among many others, Reagan, and Bush were both pro-abortion and changed, while Kennedy, Clinton, Gore, and Jesse Jackson were all once pro-life.

  37. TJerome says:

    Roland de Chanson, you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about and you obviously have a great disdain for the Catholic Church’s laws on Christian marriage. Compromise the Faith to get along? That’s what has given us almost 40 years of abortion on demand. Please go back to the White House to get more talking points for your Party.

  38. EXCHIEF says:

    You have just described a politically correct Cardinal perfectly…and it is that political correctness and habitual failure to publicly denounce “catholics” who act out of concert with the teachings of the Church that has led to the decline of the Church in this country.

    So enamored of JFK was Cushing and others that they ignored and glossed over his grevious moral errors. In fact they made excuses for him. What was the consequence? Literally millions of once faithful Catholics, not just in Boston but across this country, basically adopted the attitude that if JFK could “do it’ (whatever the immoral do it was)and remain in good standing they could too.

    I agree with others that what JFK did without public rebuke from his Shephard was the beginning of the decline and fall of the Church in this country.

  39. Maltese says:

    *During his talk, the archbishop noted that there are currently “more Catholics in national public office” than there ever have been in American history.*

    Great talk, but he should have put the adjective “pro-abortion” before “Catholic” in order to qualify the meaning, because when I see some who call themselves Catholic in office, I don’t know if I see a “Catholic,” though I’m certainly not the arbiter of such matters. For instance, I can call myself a purple penguin, but does me calling myself that make me such?

  40. pablo says:

    Dear Your Eminence Bishop Chaput,

    Please stop kicking dead men who have already been judged by God.

    Perhaps a worthy cause would be to get thine self to South Bend, Indiana and have your brother Bishop stop the persecution of a holy Priest that prayed the Rosary at a place with a Catholic name attached, and was handed over to the Freemason Sheriff’s Office.

    I think the only reason you are posturing is you have some tough competition in Denver with a huge Traditional Chapel in east Denver, Saint Isidore the Farmer Church.

    You won’t see them kicking dead guys.

    In Jesus and Mary,



  41. Roland de Chanson says:

    TJerome and EXCHIEF,

    Good Lord! I will only refer you to the Gospel passages wherein Jesus strikes dead the woman at the well and incinerates the soldiers on Calvary.

    If you ascetics decide to throw an impromptu auto-da-fe to compensate for your deprived jejuna sometime this Lent, please invite me so I can toast a few marshmallows in the embers. Being an unrepentant heretic, I am not fasting.

  42. Maltese says:

    *In this section he quotes the work, by name, of a scholar of of Augustine, Fr. Robert Dodaro, OSA, who is my thesis director.*

    Who is your thesis director, Father, and where are you pursuing your studies, if I may make bold to ask?

  43. Maltese says:

    Rather “what,” you already said “who”! :)

  44. TNCath says:

    Roland de Chanson: I recommend you read Phil Lawler’s book The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture for a more complete understanding of Cardinal Cushing. While he certainly accomplished some good things in his time, he also made some very significant errors in judgment.

  45. Roland de Chanson says:

    TNCath – thanks for the recommendation. I’ve read it. I am not claiming Dick Cushing from Southie was a saint. He would be the last to make the claim for himself.

    Then again, maybe he was. Should his cause ever get to Rome, it is apparent there will be no lack of combox Devil’s Advocates.

  46. frjim4321 says:

    With all due respect to Bp. Chaput, his speech is a matter of prudential judgement (i.e. personal opinion) and does not rise to the level of magisterial teaching. I’m sure he believes sincerely in what he is saying, but between this, his recent book (Render Unto Ceasar) and his appearances at rallies around the country sponsored by republican talk radio stations, it seems like he’s campaigning for something. Making a play for L.A. sounds like a reasonable assumption, but Rome seems to be cautious around those who want it too much.

    Pablo makes an interesting point, but I’m from the midwest and really don’t know what his context is.

  47. Maltese says:

    TJerome: *Most (not all) “Catholic” Democrats are fake Catholics. And Jack Kennedy was their leader. Kennedy was not a practicing Catholic in the meaningful sense of the word, although his mother, Rose was almost fanatical in her devotion to the Church. I was always surprised that once Roe v Wade was issued that she allowed her children to remain in the “Party of Death” but perhaps by then she was too old and too weak to challenge her family. Cardinal Cushing was part of the problem, not part of the solution.*

    Concise, appurtenant response. Also there is this to off-set the general views of the K’s in some circles:

    There was a heart of Gold!

  48. Luke says:

    @JonM & Pablo,

    I think you’re missing the boat here people. I really don’t know how you can come to the conclusions you have after watching the same video the rest of us did.

    However, arguing on the internet is just about as useful as a screen-door on a submarine. So I’ll leave it at that.

  49. Luke says:

    Out of charity I feel I should add the following to my above comment:

    Is it possible that you didn’t see the Q&A session after the talk? I think your concerns were neatly address there JonM.

  50. sejoga says:

    Fr. Z:
    You say that “Christ and the Just Society” is something you recommend for people who can read scholarly theology… I’m curious how hard is “toooo haaaaaard”, as you put it. I can read some tough theology, but I have to trudge through it. For example, I’m currently reading Ratzinger’s “Introduction to Christianity” and I understand it all, but it’s definitely something I have to plough through… if I have a somewhat difficult time with Ratzinger, is Fr. Dodaro going to be even worse for me? (Of course, I think part of my difficulty with Ratzinger is that things are just never as clear in translation… if Dodaro writes in English, maybe things won’t seem so bad.)

    I’m just trying to decide how much worth it has for me to attempt this “Christ and the Just Society” book.

  51. Scott W. says:

    With due respect frjim4321, I’d be more interested in a counter argument to Bp. Chaput’s speech rather than a musing on What Unseemly Motives Lurketh in the Dark Corners of Chaput’s Mind.

  52. TJerome says:

    Rolandie, if you’re an “unrepentent heretic” why post here? Do you get your jollies posting comments that the DNC or would welcome?

  53. JonM says:


    You are correct, I did not see the video. I just read the text of the speech on the link.

    I’ll take a look at the video today.

    I want to be clear that I’m not ‘looking’ for a gripe; as I said, this speech is another indication that the ship is turning around from perdition’s fence.

    But Pablo does offer an interesting observation: Why drag out a 40 year old corpse and say what non-modernists already knew while we have immediate crises that require immediate addressing? I do think this is viewed as a step on a very long path. And, it would be completely inappropriate of me to suggest my judgement, a convert of 11 months, has a better perspective than a Bishop. I am offering my opinion, but with the understanding that I am a layman and, at that, ‘new to God’s service and perhaps a little hot headed’ if I may borrow a line from a certain film.

    The best we can do for JFK is offer prayers for repose; what concerns me is that people today are not being rightly brought up in the faith. Let the dead bury the dead, let us be each be our brother’s keeper today.

    We have to ask ourselves, were those Saints and blessed souls deluded when they warned of ‘men falling to hell like snowflakes.’ Take 5 minutes to flip through TV, and tell me we are not in an era of such ubiquitous evil.

    What would impressive me more would be aggressive steps taken by prelates to demand laws against abortion, birth control, and pornography. Clear declarations every week that a Catholic must support leaders who will enact these policies.

    It is for our own good both in the next life and on Earth because, as Father mentioned recently, if we are not punished, Sodom is owed an apology.

    Now, I’m – not – suggesting America (or any other secularized country… do we even have a Catholic confessional state left [besides Malta]?) should be placed under interdict if for no other reason than it would punish the 10-20% of Catholics who actually care about the Sacraments and are trying to live out the faith.

    But if the USCCB has the excess resources to constantly be hiring people aligned with agendas totally contrary to God, well, they can spare the money and time to demand these three fundamental evils must be eliminated de jure.

    Day in, day out.

    No stupid long fluffy apologies. Simply, it is our duty as Catholics to support leaders who will do these three things. Every Sunday, in every Bulletin.

    It will sure seperate the wheat from the chaff, that’s for sure.

    Indeed, as I think more about Bishop Chaput’s speech, it seems like the Spirit is pushing for prelates to re-engage in public affairs that would, taken to its logical conclusion, lead to what I am suggesting. Maybe it is God’s will that we walk in baby steps; it’s not my station to determine.

  54. rakesvines says:

    @JonM: The good bishop was not attacking JFK personally. In fact he cited his noble convictions.
    Bp. Chaput was critiquing his doctrine. If I can get a penny everytime a Catholic pol references
    JFK and his infamous speech, I’d have a lot.

    Bottom line, Bp. Chaput needs to make a clear and distinct reference to it so that there will be no
    uncertainty. And as far as pussy footing on the Catholic activism in the public forum, I respectfully
    disagree because of the 50 million rotting cavaders resulting from JFKs erroneous dichotomy. The death
    of another unborn child is way too many but today thousands have already died and it’s only noon EST.

    So, no baby steps. We need to be out there yelling our throats sore or at least forwarding some good
    web pages to win hearts and minds for the unborn and ultimately for God.

  55. Roland de Chanson says:


    It’s not that you failed to get the joke which included the line “unrepentent heretic”, it’s not that you accuse me with great injustice of adhering to organizations which I have nothing to do with, it’s not that you calumniate me with the unfounded slander of disdaining the Church’s marriage laws, it’s not even that you insult me personally knowing nothing about me, publicly committing the sin of detraction, it’s that you have misspelled my name that causes me such deep chagrin.

    But embued with the spirit of this penitential season and mindful of the lesson of Forgiveness Sunday, I forgive you unconditionally and ask the same of you.

    BTW, I have gotten a few “jolies” in my time, but what the devil are “jollies”?

  56. Serviam1 says:

    Roland de Chanson –

    Please explain the below quotation. This Americanist approach to Church teaching certainly added fuel to the Kennedy secularist philosophy. To think it came from a Prince of the Church during the apex of the “Catholic Moment” in this country. We continue to live with its legacy in Massachusetts today…let’s work and pray for a “New Springtime”.

    West Roxbury, Massachusetts

    “Early in the summer of 1965, the Massachusetts legislature took up a proposal to repeal the state’s Birth Control law, which barred the use of contraceptives. . . . In a state where Catholics constituted a voting majority, and dominated the legislature, the prospects for repeal appeared remote. Then on June 22, Cardinal Cushing appeared on a local radio program, ‘An Afternoon with Haywood Vincent,’ and effectively scuttled the opposition. Cardinal Cushing announced: ‘My position in this matter is that birth control in accordance with artificial means is immoral, and not permissible. But this is Catholic teaching. I am also convinced that I should not impose my position upon those of other faiths’. Warming to the subject, the cardinal told his radio audience that ‘I could not in conscience approve the legislation’ that had been proposed. However, he quickly added, ‘I will make no effort to impose my opinion upon others.’ So there it was: the ‘personally opposed’ argument, in fully developed form, enunciated by a Prince of the Church nearly 40 years ago! Notice how the unvarying teaching of the Catholic Church, which condemned artificial contraception as an offense against natural law, is reduced here to a matter of the cardinal’s personal belief. And notice how he makes no effort to persuade legislators with the force of his arguments; any such effort is condemned in advance as a bid to ‘impose’ his opinion. Cardinal Cushing conceded that in the past, Catholic leaders had opposed any effort to alter the Birth Control law. ‘But my thinking has changed on that matter,’ he reported, ‘for the simple reason that I do not see where I have an obligation to impose my religious beliefs on people who just do not accept the same faith as I do’. . . . Before the end of his fateful radio broadcast, Cardinal Cushing gave his advice to the Catholic members of the Massachusetts legislature: ‘If your constituents want this legislation, vote for it. You represent them. You don’t represent the Catholic Church.’ Dozens of Catholic legislators did vote for the bill, and the Birth Control law was abolished. Perhaps more important in the long run, the ‘personally opposed’ politician had his rationale.” (Catholic World Report, November 2003)

  57. TNCath says:

    Serviam1: Thank you for that anecdote about Cardinal Cushing. This was vintage Cardinal Cushing. I just wonder sometimes if he learned it from the Kennedys or taught it to the Kennedys? As we know he spent a lot of time with them and was practically their own personal family pastor, officiating at practically every sacramental event for their extended and large family.

  58. MAJ Tony says:

    frjim: I just saw it as +Chaput doing his duty. Somebody has to go “coast-to-coast” and act the part of the prophet. Few others seem to be up to the task, except perhaps +Dolan, and he is still busy dealing with a new job, though I can see him becoming a major voice. He comes across as the “good cop” and a great front man for the Church in the US.

  59. Roland de Chanson says:


    I’m not sure what needs explanation. As regards Cushing’s words (if they are quoted accurately), res ipsa loquitur. He espouses the correct theory of representative government: that the representative’s duty is to vote the interests of the majority of his constituents. Sounds like he read his Locke at BC. And in his day, BC was Catholic.

    But I will explicate the article to show that it is clearly not an unbiased news story but rather a tendentious screed. To wit, the soapbox pundit writes:

    Notice how the unvarying teaching of the Catholic Church, which condemned artificial contraception as an offense against natural law, is reduced here to a matter of the cardinal’s personal belief.

    This is patently false. The Cardinal began by enunciating the Magisterium, that it is Catholic teaching; he states his conscience is formed by it; he emphasizes that he could not approve it. He also recognizes what is incontrovertibly obvious: that the Magisterium is not binding on non-Catholics. There is no attempt to “reduce” the Magisterium to his personal opinion. In fact, he explicitly acknowledges that a legislator’s role is not to vote his personal opinion, but rather the opinions of those who elected him.

    And notice how he makes no effort to persuade legislators with the force of his arguments; any such effort is condemned in advance as a bid to ‘impose’ his opinion.

    What arguments would he use? Natural law? In a state of philospher kings, perhaps natural law would be enshrined in the constitution. But in this republic, the law ultimately is what the Supreme Court says it is. In my recollection of those times, the push for artificial contraception was widespread; the Cardinal did not capitulate on his principles, but merely acknowledged what would eventually be a civic fait-accompli.

    Let me conclude with two points. First, that this case is radically different from that of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision or the Massachusetts Superior Court’s authorizing “marriage” for the sexually confused. In neither case did the citizenry have the opportunity to vote. A judicial oligarchy “imposed” its “opinion” by fiat. To attribute the Decline of the West to poor Dick Cushing, princely red hat notwithstanding, is not an act of Christian charity or justice.

    Second, that the withholding of Communion from politician based on their vote on abortion, when all legislation is intrinsically based on compromise, will quickly destroy the modus vivendi that has allowed Catholics to succeed in government up to this point. If the “solution” to the “problem” (as someone wrote earlier) is, well, no, Catholics should not serve a corrupt and immoral secular government, then they will be disenfranchised and you might as well buy an island in Boston Harbor and set up a theocracy. The Egyptian desert would certainly have more cachet, but the Copts aren’t faring well in that country.

    Besides, be not afraid. God’s will is worked in the fulness of time. The aborters and contraceptionists will reap their just predestined demographic reward soon enough.

  60. TJerome says:

    Rolandie, Cardinal Cushing was an empty suit. He worshipped the Kennedys rather than Christ and His Church. In fairness to Cushing, at one time, before I learned to read and discern for myself, I thought skirt-chasing Jack and lady-killer (literally) Teddy, were fine, Catholic gentlemen. Someday you may mature as well. Cheers, Tom

  61. muckemdanno says:

    In this speech, Bishop Chaput attacks President Kennedy’s speech in Houston from 50 years ago.

    The bishop quotes from JFK’s actual words only twice during this speech…

    (1) “Kennedy said that if his duties as President should ‘ever require me to violate my conscience or violate the national interest, I would resign the office.’ He also warned that he would not ‘disavow my views or my church in order to win this election.'” This, Chaput admits, is praiseworthy.

    (2) “Kennedy said: “I believe in an America where the separation of Church and state is absolute.” Chaput claims these words were “shrewdly chosen”. What exactly does that mean? Is this truly condemnable, in the context in which it was said? Chaput excludes the context, which may be shrewd given his audience of Southern Baptists. Here is the whole paragraph from JFK’s speech, for those interested in the whole truth:

    –I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.–

    Which of these specific sentiments regarding separation of Church and State does Chaput want us to reject? He tells us “separation of church and state” is not in the constitution. Is he a teacher of constitutional law or is he a teacher of Christianity? NOWHERE in Chaput’s address does he quote Kennedy as having said anything at all against the Catholic faith, or anything proclaimed by Dignitatis Humanae, the USCCB, or the Cathechism of the Catholic Church.

    If you attack a man who is incapable of defending himself (in this case a dead man) you better provide something substantive!

    I know I’ll probably get attacked as a “liberal” for this post (which I am not.) I am simply a Catholic before I am a member of a political party.

  62. Roland de Chanson says:


    You obviously feel great antipathy towards Cardinal Cushing. I doubt you knew him. Those who did loved him and many are in his debt.

    Your mode of discourse and your persistent mocking of my name suggest you may need psychological as well as spiritual counseling.

    I am sorry I took your previous comments seriously enough to have bothered to respond. I will refrain from any further conversation with you.

    Religion is not a palliative for a disturbed psyche. I hope you get the help you need and I wish you well.

  63. Scott W. says:

    I know I’ll probably get attacked as a “liberal” for this post (which I am not.)

    Respectfully, as I said above, criticizing a man’s words as Bp. Chaput does (even if he didn’t quote him extensively), does not equal attacking him personally. What one says is either true or false and no one should take a critque of that personally, or in this case personally on behalf of someone else. One might as well say I can’t critique Mein Kampf because Hitler isn’t around to defend himself.

  64. muckemdanno says:

    It’s also quite ironic that Bishop Chaput quotes Father John Courtney Murray as “the Jesuit scholar” who shows us what “a proper Christian approach to politics might look like” and “who spoke so forcefully about the dignity of American democracy and religious freedom”

    Presumably, this is the same Father John Courtney Murray, who participated at the Hyannisport Conference that Fr Z has condemned repeatedly as showing the way for “pro-choice” Catholics.

    (The quote below is from the wdtprs post from last year that Fr Z links to.)

    ” Mr. Jonsen writes that the Hyannisport colloquium was influenced by the position of another Jesuit, the Rev. John Courtney Murray, a position that “distinguished between the moral aspects of an issue and the feasibility of enacting legislation about that issue.” It was the consensus at the Hyannisport conclave that Catholic politicians “might tolerate legislation that would permit abortion under certain circumstances if political efforts to repress this moral error led to greater perils to social peace and order.” ”

    The “conservative” Bishop Chaput praises this very teacher John Courtney Murray!!! I guess conservative is the new liberal!


    This is a strikeout by Abp Chaput, not a home run.

  65. muckemdanno says:

    Scott, by all means criticize Mein Kampf, but tell us specifically what is wrong with it. I’m sure you would have no trouble showing us something specific, since it is probably filled with bad things.

    The JFK speech apparently has nothing specific that Chaput finds condemnable. (If it does, please, Your Eminence, tell us, so that we may know, too)

    The JFK speech says nothing that is not echoed in Dignitatis Humanae.

    JFK speech:


  66. Scott W. says:

    My point of course is that critiquing JFK does not amount to a personal attack.

  67. muckemdanno says:

    Scott, an attack on a man’s work is an attack on the man, since we are what we do. (Unless you’re going to say that your “critique” of Mein Kampf MUST not be construed as an attack against Hitler…lol)

    Of course, if the work is bad, then it should be attacked. That would be fair and is necessary in many cases. For this reason the Church in the past has condemned various things that Luther said, or Arius, etc. Perhaps what JFK said should be condemned, but the bishop does not tell us what is wrong with what JFK said! That is my point. Is he trying to teach us something, or just trying to drive down Kennedy’s reputation? It appears to be the latter.

    67 comments on this post and no particulars on what JFK said in that speech that is bad…strange…I guess saying the name “Kennedy” is sufficient evidence for many, but not for me.

  68. mfg says:

    Bloggers: What Archbishop Chaput was trying to say (IMHO)was we should wear our Catholicity proudly and publicly (and I guess Baptists should wear their Christianity proudly and publicly) and work together with other Christian faiths to defeat the secularism and agnosticism and atheism and modernism and immorality of our times. He proclaims that JFK’s speech (privately held beliefs will not inform public acts) was one incident, an important incident, on the road to today’s Catholics’ lack of identity and outright political correctness we see nowadays. A for instance: USCCB’s memorandum placed in the narthex of all of our churches, on what a Catholic should keep in mind when he goes into the voting booth, in 2008. LOL.

  69. mfg says:

    JonM: I thought Archbishop Chaput’s address was magnificent. Lacking an Archbishop Fulton Sheen, I put him right up there with ABP Burke, Fr. Rutler and Fr. Goodwin, FSSP. Archbishop Chaput does not disappoint. However…perhaps he shared a bit too much inside baseball with the Baptists. At a question session after his address he was asked whether he (as the Catholic ABP of Denver) finds it any easier than they find it (the Baptiast leadership that is)to get his flock to follow him. I was surprised at his candor. He said no, he doesn’t find it easy and they do not follow him as he would wish because of the (and I am paraphrasing here–these are my words because I don’t remember his) tenor of the times, secularism, “my conscience informs me”, “everyone is his own pope” mentality. I thought it was a great answer for a Catholic audience, but alas, maybe too much info for a non-catholic audience.

  70. JonM says:

    Just to clarify, I am not saying that I believe we need baby steps; rather, it is my opinion that this is a kind of baby step. It is movement in the right direction, but low impulse, not Warp 9.

    It’s a difference of opinion on strategy. I believe that more focus must go to Catholics who are in dire need of Catholic education. Father posted the recent statistics on Catholic practices; our diocese’s newspaper posted research by the KoC regarding young adults on things like Mass attendance and ‘interest in marriage’ (amazingly dismal.)

    Clearly, many bishops believe that there needs to be a joint effort amongst non-Catholic Christians (i.e. those with incomplete understanding of the faith, i.e. those with hetrodox practices and beliefs, i.e. …) and perhaps even ‘believers’ in general (Jews, Muslims…pagans?)

    In constructing some loose alliance, invariably that religious liberty thing comes up. I see why SSPX is driven up the wall (but I’m not trying to apologize or pretend that disobedience is okay) because the way religious freedom is talked about, clearly any Baptist or Hindu will take it the discussion to mean pluralism and expression of any religion.

    This is important because if we get past the aversion to confessional states, we will begin to see a Catholic identity flower.

    But it’s certainly not my call and though I have my opinions, unlike the progressives I don’t suggest any rebellion against the bishops. In time, we’ll see if their strategy works.

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