Vatican Snubs Kennedy Over Inconsistent Fielty

One can understand cool feelings and justifiably harsh moral judgments of Ted Kennedy over his behaior at Chappiquiddick.   But the Roman Catholic Church apparently takes more offense at his political independence of itself.  The pope has yet to issue any statement in the wake of Kennedy’s death and when Obama hand delivered a letter from the senator last summer, there was this response:

One veteran official at the Vatican, of U.S. nationality, expressed the view of many conservatives about the Kennedy clan’s rapport with the Catholic Church: “Why would he even write a letter to the Pope? The Kennedys have always been defiantly in opposition to the Roman Catholic magisterium.” (Magisterium is the formal term for the authority of Church teaching.)

“He is a complicated figure,” says the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and the culture editor of the Catholic magazine America. “Catholics on the right are critical because of his stance on abortion. Catholics on the left celebrate his achievements on immigration, fighting poverty and other legislation that is a virtual mirror of the Church’s social teaching.”

Back at headquarters, however, there is little room for nuance. “Here in Rome, Ted Kennedy is nobody. He’s a legend with his own constituency,” says the Vatican official. “If he had influence in the past, it was only with the Archdiocese of Boston, and that eventually disappeared too.”

The theocratic impulse of the Roman Catholic Church to control the judgment of politicians in the secular realm shows why it was important that John F. Kennedy was asked about what role his faith would have in his governing , why it was important that John F. Kennedy gave the brilliant, precise, and perfectly American answer he gave, and, finally, why Ted Kennedy governed according to his conscience and according to the philosophy his brother enunciated, rather than according to the dictates of an anti-democratic institution which would usurp all the world’s power it could again if only it were feasible:

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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