When John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960, anti-Catholicism was still quite strong – and open. And not only among the usual suspects, like the KKK and Southern rednecks. The American poet, Peter Viereck, famously observed that anti-Catholicism was “the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals,” as easy to find in New York or Boston as in Alabama or Tennesse as Amy Barrett found
So it was no wonder that Kennedy felt he had to go before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association that year to assure Protestant leaders, “I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters – and the Church does not speak for me.”
It was a clever speech, crafted by Ivy League advisors and intended to reassure nervous Protestants.
He signalled that the pope would not be dictating policy to America – telegraphed that Kennedy’s Catholicism would not have any bearing on his decisions as president.
There was no little irony in what he said because the Kennedy boys’ Catholicism was so private they mostly didn’t even impose it on themselves. And on every major issue the Catholics had exactly same view as the Protestants.
Kennedy’s declaration seemed to signal the overcoming of a long-standing prejudice. But anti-Catholicism did not and still has not gone away.
Last week a Notre Dame law professor, Amy Coney Barrett was mercilessly grilled in a Senate judiciary hearing by Dianne Feinstein, Al Franken, and Dick Durbin – because she was Catholic.
Now, in fact, Barrett has explicitly written that “judges cannot — nor should they try to — align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge.” She has insisted that judges ought to recuse themselves in situations when their faith conflicts with their judicial responsibility.
She also pointed out that it is actually Federal Law that any judge should stand aside if he or she has conscientious scruples that prevent them deciding a case in conformity with the facts and the law. That applies to atheists as well as Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists…..
That was of no consequence to the three Senatorial disgraces mentioned above – they are all big supporters and funders of abortion factories; and Catholic teaching is for sanctity of life as the default position and starting point on any position involving killing.
There is no surprise here. She is a Trump nominee – that is enough to get the claws out; she has a distinguished career including working with the great Judge Antonin Scalia; but that was not the issue – she is a Catholic as well…
The senators last week were playing a multi-pronged game. They blew the dog whistle, signaling to the radical left base of the Democrats that it’s okay to go after “orthodox” Catholics.
But in addition to this they knew – something perhaps even more outrageous than the attack itself – that there would be no repercussions. Google their names. There’s been little press coverage, and less criticism; though,it must be said, out of the blue, the New York Times described the behaviour as ‘sordid.’
Public figures across the country go in fear of expressing the slightest doubts about the current craze for “transgender rights” or same-sex marriage. The media pounce. Jobs are lost, careers are ruined when people support the traditional family, and oppose gay marriage.
But U.S. Senators can brashly attack and sneer at the beliefs of a nominee, beliefs central to the West for three or four thousand years, by playing off residual American anti-Catholicism and the new sexual dispensation. They know there will be no price to pay.
The media have seen to that.
Catholics are fair game.
Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims have the same views as the Catholics. But by a kind of backhanded compliment that they probably would not want, they get a free pass because they don’t really represent a threat to the sexual totalitarians. Catholicism apparently still does.