I started not to write about this. It’s one of those stories that I don’t like one bit.
Evidently a very young Jacqueline Bouvier met Father Joseph Leonard when she was in Dublin in 1950. This was three years before she married Senator and future President John F Kennedy.
She and the priest became friends and she corresponded with him at key points in her life — when she suffered a miscarriage in 1956 and later after the assassination of President Kennedy in early 1964. The letters were based on friendship, but they were also part of a pastoral relationship in which she discussed her faith.
Jacqueline Kennedy would not be the first public person who confided in a priest because she believed the priest wouldn’t gossip about her. Sadly, she’s also not the first person to be disappointed in this belief.
Now, these personal letters are on the auction block and their contents are being published everywhere.
Does no one but me see that this is wrong?
Father Joseph Leonard and Jacqueline Bouvier, 1950. Photo Source: Boston Globe
Why did Father Leonard keep these letters? I wrote earlier today that I will never talk about the private things that my constituents have shared with me through the years. I didn’t say, but it is true that I am also going to destroy any records of these conversations as soon as I leave office, such as phone calls or follow-ups related to them. Those are all I have, since I do not write down the personal things people tell me, and I do not keep their letters in which they confide deep things from their lives.
Not one word my constituents told me will ever surface.
I do not understand priests who gossip about their parishioners, especially when they talk about the gut wrenching things that people share with them. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s letters were clearly written not just to a friend, but to a friend who was a priest, because he was a priest. No one but the priest should ever have seen or heard about them. They certainly should not be on the auction block to make money.
From Catholic News Service:
DUBLIN (CNS) — Newly released letters between former U.S. first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and a Dublin-based priest reveal Kennedy’s struggles to keep her faith after her husband’s assassination.
The letters exchanged by Kennedy and Vincentian Father Joseph Leonard, who died in 1964, are set to be auctioned in Dublin in June. Excerpts were published in The Irish Times newspaper.