Jack Kennedy from 1960 …
âBut l<$NoAd$>et me stress again,â he told the assembled ministers, âthat these are my views â for, contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for president [but the candidate] who happens also to be a Catholic.
âI do not speak for my church on public matters â and the church does not speak for me.
âWhatever issue may come before me as president, if I should be elected â on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject â I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be in the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressure or dictate. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.â
As I wrote in my Hill column this evening, what a difference 45 years makes!
Then a Catholic senator from Massachusetts running for president was at pains to distinguish between his personal religious views and those he’d try to enact into policy as president. He chose a meeting of Southern Baptists in Texas to make the point.
Now we have a Texas born-again president trying to score political points by pressing certain elements of the Catholic hierarchy into disciplining another Catholic Senator and presidential candidate from Massachusetts for not imposing his personal views as public policy.