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Monday, March 29, 2004

A Test of Kerry's Faith

This morning, I wrote about Kerry's contradictory position on the proper relationship between faith and political "works." As if on cue, Time Magazine this week has an article entitled "A Test of Kerry's Faith" about how his Catholic faith is indeed devoid of the works that the Catholic Church demands of him.

Some excerpts:

Kerry's positions on some hot-button issues aren't sitting well with members of the church elite. Just listen to a Vatican official, who is an American: "People in Rome are becoming more and more aware that there's a problem with John Kerry, and a potential scandal with his apparent profession of his Catholic faith and some of his stances, particularly abortion."

But it's far from clear whether the greater political problem is Kerry's or the church's. "I don't think it complicates things at all," Kerry told TIME in an interview aboard his campaign plane on Saturday, the first in which he has discussed his faith extensively. "We have a separation of church and state in this country. As John Kennedy said very clearly, I will be a President who happens to be Catholic, not a Catholic President."...

Kerry is a former altar boy who complains when his campaign staff does not leave time in his Sunday schedule for Mass, who takes Communion and describes himself as a "believing and practicing Catholic, married to another believing and practicing Catholic." But just last week he made a rare appearance on the Senate floor to vote against a bill that would make harming a fetus a separate offense during the commission of a crime. The vote put Kerry on the same side as abortion-rights advocates in opposing specific legal rights for the unborn—and against nearly two-thirds of his fellow Senators.

Kerry and other Catholic politicians have long argued that their religious beliefs need not influence their actions as elected representatives. That position is what provoked New York's Archbishop John Cardinal O'Connor in 1984 to castigate New York Governor Mario Cuomo and Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, who are both pro-choice.

If anything, the church is getting tougher. The Vatican issued last year a "doctrinal note" warning Catholic lawmakers that they have a "grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them." When Kerry campaigned in Missouri in February, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke publicly warned him "not to present himself for Communion"—an ostracism that Canon Law 915 reserves for "those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin." Kerry was scheduled to be in St. Louis last Sunday, and told TIME, "I certainly intend to take Communion and continue to go to Mass as a Catholic."


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