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Camelot on reruns

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 22, 2008

For many Catholics -- particularly in the Northeast -- the Kennedys are held somewhere just short of the Pope in terms of esteem.  

Thus Chris Cilizza, writing in the Washington Post about the desire of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg to be handed a seat in the US Senate. And you find yourself nervously asking: Could he be right?

In the 1960s, certainly, it was common to see photos of JFK and Pope John XXIII in matching frames on the mantels of Catholic homes. If you look carefully you may still find those same pictures today, curled and discolored by age, nearly lost in the general clutter on the walls of shops owned by Catholic proprietors. But you won't find any more recent photos. Has anyone ever mounted a photo of Ted Kennedy beside one of Benedict XVI? I doubt it. 

After 40 years of perfidy-- the enthusiastic support for abortion, the sensational personal misconduct, the unsolicited (and unintelligent) advice to the Vatican on theological issues-- the Kennedy family has lost the respect of thinking Catholics. Oh, there may be a few holdouts. There are the tribal Catholics, whose understanding of the faith goes no deeper than rooting for the Notre Dame football team, drinking green beer on St. Paddy's Day, and remembering always to "make it emphatic; straight Democratic" on Election Day. Then there are the committed liberals, who honor the Kennedys precisely because they have distanced themselves from the teachings of the Church. But if you actually hold the Pope in esteem-- if you care what the Holy Father says-- you just can't revere the Kennedy name anymore. Can't be done. 

Do you understand my point? If you do, try to get it across to a friendly journalist. The typical reporter does not esteem the Roman Pontiff, nor does he know anyone who does. But he probably does esteem the Kennedys, for ideological reasons of his own, and assumes that the Kennedy "brand" still sells in Catholic households. (Alas, maybe it does;  maybe the green-beer-and-Notre-Dame Catholics outnumber those in the sentire cum ecclesia crowd.) That's why it's so hard to find the "Schlossberg" tacked onto Caroline Kennedy's name in media accounts of her quest for a seat in the House of Lords Senate. 

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