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Vatican newspaper recalls Kennedy assassination

November 22, 2013

In a L’Osservatore Romano article marking the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Father Robert Imbelli recalled Catholic life in the United States in the 1960s.

Father Imbelli, a Boston College theology professor and priest of the Archdiocese of New York, recalled that Catholic life seemed to be at its apex in the early 1960s – an era of church and school construction and burgeoning seminaries and convents. “The emblematic portrait depicting John XXIII and President Kennedy next to each other seemed to promise a new era, both for the Church and for the nation: a new Pentecost, ecclesial and civil.”

Following Kennedy’s assassination and funeral, in which “the Dies Irae of the Mass had never resounded more powerfully and fearfully,” “the hopes raised by the conciliar documents” and the Civil Rights Act gave way to the events of 1968: the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, riots in cities, and protests in universities. “In the Church, the promulgation of the encyclical Humanae Vitae “dashed the hopes of many Catholics. Priests and religious abandoned their vocation in rising numbers.”

“The Camelot of the Kennedy era was short lived,” Father Imbelli continued. “In addition, it later proved to be more myth than reality, all too often disfigured by secret infidelity.”

“Without authentic conversion, the well-being and integrity of both the nation and the Church are compromised and corroded,” he added. “The hopes of the believers are not placed in some mythical Camelot, but in the new Jerusalem, which comes down ‘out of heaven, from God’” (Rev. 21: 2).


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