Catholic Priests and Professors Share Blame for Kennedys’ Pro-Abortion Identity

Mon Jan 5, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

By Kathleen Gilbert

NEW YORK, January 5, 2008 ( - Catholics lamenting the likely appointment of yet another pro-abortion Catholic Kennedy to the senate may be dismayed by a report that the presidential family's alliance to abortion "rights" was actively nurtured by dissident Catholic priests and theologians.

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, Anne Hendershott explored the roots of New York Senate hopeful Caroline Kennedy's support for abortion, despite the fact that she identifies herself as a Catholic, much like her parents John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. reported last month that one of the first telephone calls Kennedy made after making the decision to pursue Hillary Clinton's senate seat was to the New York division of the abortion lobby NARAL. Since then she has publicly professed her support for Roe v. Wade.

Hendershott says that Kennedy's abortion affiliations are part and parcel of a party line that sprouted in the early 1970's, when Catholic and non-Catholic Democrats alike discovered, not only the power and influence of the abortion lobby, but also that "despite the Catholic Church's teachings to the contrary, its bishops and priests had ended their public role of responding negatively to those who promoted a pro-choice agenda."  

In some cases, said Hendershott, Catholic leaders "actually started providing 'cover' for Catholic pro-choice politicians" who wished to support abortion.  One meeting at the Kennedy family compound in Hyannisport, Mass., drew leading Catholic theologians and college professors to coach the Kennedys and advisers how a politician could support abortion while keeping a "clear conscience." 

The coachs were former Jesuit priest Albert Jonsen, emeritus professor of ethics at the University of Washington, Fr. Joseph Fuchs, a Catholic moral theologian; Fr.. Robert Drinan, then dean of Boston College Law School; and three academic theologians, Frs. Giles Milhaven, Richard McCormick and Charles Curran.

"Though the theologians disagreed on many a point, they all concurred on certain basics ... and that was that a Catholic politician could in good conscience vote in favor of abortion," recalled Father Giles Milhaven, one of the academic theologians present at the meeting, as quoted by the article.  A prevailing position among the Catholics at the meeting "distinguished between the moral aspects of an issue and the feasibility of enacting legislation about that issue."

Hendershott noted in contrast the recent surge of outspoken U.S. bishops who decried the threat of abortion during the 2008 presidential election season, but also pointed out that New York's Cardinal Egan has not spoken out against Ms. Kennedy's pro-abortion beliefs, a silence she calls "unfortunate."

"Until the clerics begin to counter the pro-choice claims made by high-profile Catholics such as Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and, now, Caroline Kennedy, faithful Catholics will continue to be bewildered by their pastoral silence," she said.

To read the Wall Street Journal article, go to:

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