04/29/04 — Religion: Kerry’s contradictions with the Catholic Church

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Religion: Kerry’s contradictions with the Catholic Church

One of the most interesting aspects of John Kerry’s candidacy for president is his religion. Kerry is a member and practitioner of the Roman Catholic faith.

The last time a Catholic was nominated by one of the two major parties was 1960 when another Democratic Massachusetts senator, John F. Kennedy, defeated Republican Richard Nixon. In that race, some feared that Protestants would vote against Kennedy for reasons involving bigotry.

This time, with Democrats poised to nominate Kerry, the tables are turned. Rather than being shunned by Protestants, it seems more likely that committed Catholics will oppose Kerry because he apparently does not believe some of the teachings of the church.

Paramount among these is the issue of abortion rights.

The Roman Catholic Church opposes abortion, and a cardinal at the Vatican said last week that politicians who endorse abortion rights should not be given communion. That would include Kerry, an advocate of women’s rights to have abortions.

Still, a priest gave Kerry communion Sunday at the Paulist Center in Boston, a parish that attracts Catholics who are uncomfortable with certain Catholic rules.

As with any organization there are, of course, contradictions within the Roman Catholic Church. There also seem to be contradictions in Kerry’s loyalty to it. He is Catholic enough to have gotten the church to annul his first marriage when he divorced, but in other ways he and the church do not sing from the same hymnal. He votes against the church’s teachings not only on abortion but also on issues like homosexual “marriage.”

Kerry’s explanation is that his faith and his government work are separate. When he walked into the Oval Office, he would leave his religious beliefs in the hall.

He is, in a sense, living a double life — a private Roman Catholic and a public politician.

The trouble with publicly claiming religious faith and then publicly ignoring it is that it tends to strip religion of its meaning. A person of integrity cannot believe one way and act another.

If we approve of blatant hypocrisy in our leadership, religion is diminished and our culture regresses further toward secularism and disorder.

Published in Editorials on April 29, 2004 11:15 AM