Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Houston, Revisited

Last night, the nation's most forthright episcopal voice returned to the "scene of the crime" as Archbishop Charles Chaput OFM Cap. of Denver delivered his latest major address at Houston Baptist University.

The city, of course, was the site of the (in)famous 1960 speech before an audience of Protestant clergy where, in the face of lingering suspicion toward American Catholics, then-presidential candidate John F. Kennedy -- the first of the fold elected to the office -- memorably laid out his vision of a country "where no public official either requests or accepts 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."

Fifty years later, the Italian vaticanista Sandro Magister landed the Capuchin's fulltext.... and here, the "boom" graf:
"Fifty years ago this fall, in September 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. He had one purpose. He needed to convince 300 uneasy Protestant ministers, and the country at large, that a Catholic like himself could serve loyally as our nation’s chief executive. Kennedy convinced the country, if not the ministers, and went on to be elected. And his speech left a lasting mark on American politics. It was sincere, compelling, articulate – and wrong. Not wrong about the patriotism of Catholics, but wrong about American history and very wrong about the role of religious faith in our nation’s life. And he wasn’t merely “wrong.” His Houston remarks profoundly undermined the place not just of Catholics, but of all religious believers, in America’s public life and political conversation. Today, half a century later, we’re paying for the damage."
And, well... discuss.

Tip to New Advent.

SVILUPPO: For those who'd rather listen than read, fullvideo....

PHOTO: Bettman/Corbis