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50th anniversary of JFK’s famed Houston speech on Catholicism

September 10, 2010

September 12 marks the 50th anniversary of then-Sen. John F. Kennedy’s famed speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, in which he said:

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accept instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

CWN offers links to the speech, a recent critique by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, and comments by Russell Shaw and Margaret O’Brien Steinfels on the speech’s historical background. Bishop John Wright of Pittsburgh, who influenced the speech, later served as cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy from 1969 until his death in 1979.


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