Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

Massachusetts & the Kennedy mystique

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 08, 2010

To appreciate the importance of what happened in the special election here in Massachusetts last month, you have to understand the extraordinary power of the Kennedy mystique, and how much it neutralized what had been a strong conservative Catholic influence. I tackle both subjects in a review of the late Ted Kennedy's memoir, appearing in the current issue of the American Spectator

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Deacon0101 - Jan. 24, 2018 5:22 PM ET USA

    Pray also for the deacons. In our Diocese the deacons do most of the marriage prep.being married clergy they have some advantages of experience, but are also well trained in the canonical preparation. Many times the modern deacon is overlooked in the workings of the Church's sacramental life.

  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - Jan. 21, 2018 10:42 PM ET USA

    This is truly disheartening. I didn’t think marriage on a plane is even allowed but given the circumstances this is the least of the concern. There is clearly a problem with the Pope’s impetuous comments and actions. Now, I wonder how impetuous he really is with his Efforts. What do we do - even below the Parrish Priest doesn’t want to speak out fearing what people wil think. Given the Pope’s statements and actions, it’s a little late to be concerned about disedification...

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Jan. 20, 2018 4:22 PM ET USA

    My use of the word "complain" was loose, and I'm guessing it might have been in the above article too. I would not want any priest to "complain" (literally) about the Pope, but I do think that in the right contexts a priest might point out when the Pope has contravened Canon Law or created a scandalous situation. If my father frequently makes a spectacle of himself, I'm going to try to correct him. If he won't listen, or if I can't talk to him directly, I might decide to speak about it publicly.

  • Posted by: feedback - Jan. 20, 2018 12:17 AM ET USA

    @Dennis Olden, even if the airplane was heading for an emergency landing of some sort, a general absolution would be more appropriate than instant marriage vows. Also, it is hard to say whether both parties really wanted to get married at that time, or - at the suggestion of Pope Francis - they just found it too awkward to refuse. Either way, this is not a good example given by the Pope to clergymen who have tendencies to cutting corners in their administration of the Sacraments of the Church.

  • Posted by: stpetric - Jan. 19, 2018 9:53 PM ET USA

    I am a parish priest, and I take my commitments and responsibilities seriously. I also consider that it would be disedifying to the faithful for me to complain publicly about the pope.

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Jan. 19, 2018 9:37 PM ET USA

    The first thing I thought of was to complain, but people today don't like "negativity," so I try not to do it for every issue that seems wrong to me. (The only sin is calling something a sin, it seems.) The Pope seems more and more like everyone else in the affluent west today: he does whatever he wants, regardless of any rules, traditions, or etiquette to the contrary. And, he seems to like to show off while riding airplanes. Frankly, I can't wait to see him go.

  • Posted by: shrink - Jan. 19, 2018 9:27 PM ET USA

    Here's a recipe for serious change: Place pontiff at 30k feet. Pour in a few glasses of wine. Add a dash of some fawning reporters. A pinch of wannabe priest-nuns and VOILÀ #ordainwomen.

  • Posted by: MatJohn - Jan. 19, 2018 9:03 PM ET USA

    No doubt an irregular ceremony for a highly extreme case calling for pastoral intervention.

  • Posted by: Dennis Olden - Jan. 19, 2018 6:58 PM ET USA

    Since their wedding was prevented by the destruction of their church (I read), might the Pope have assumed (or asked them about it) that they had gone through marriage preparation for that wedding? Maybe the Pope told them to go to Confession as soon as they were on terra firma? (Of course, there are probably other church buildings where they live. One could ask why they had not gone to one of them in the several years since their cancelled church wedding to put the matter to rest.)

  • Posted by: rsnewbill7950 - Jan. 19, 2018 6:06 PM ET USA

    I'm beginning to believe the Church is being tested, as it was during the Renaissance. The gates of Hell cannot withstand the power of Christ. The Church can withstand a heretical Bishop of Rome.

  • Posted by: feedback - Jan. 19, 2018 5:14 PM ET USA

    Why change the pesky Canon Law when you could disregard it? That's a recipe for serious abuse of ecclesiastical powers and a sinful chaos in the Church. I'm afraid that some bishops and pastors from now on may become less (or much less) respectful of the Law of the Church.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2010 9:03 AM ET USA

    Fine article, Phil. It will be interesting to see what kind of Catholic Massachusetts emerges now that the neutralization effect of a prominent Kennedy is gone.