The church, Kerry and Kulongoski

Ted Kulongoski

Ted Kulongoski

We saw this before nationally, in 2004, when there was talk of Roman Catholic church officials taking (internal church) action against presidential candidate and practicing Catholic John Kerry, because of Kerry’s pro-choice views on abortion.

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski is a practicing Catholic too, and he too is pro-choice. The tension hasn’t come up publicly in Oregon until now. Today, Portland Archbishop John Vlazny criticized the governor for hosting a pro-choice event locally: “For a Catholic governor to host an event of this sort seems a deliberate dissent from the teachings of the church.”

Is he saying that a Catholic governor must draw all his policy decisions, and official actions, within the confines of the church, and whatever it might teach?

We just finished reading a fine book, “1960 – LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies,” by David Pietrusza, which included a detailed account of the concerns people at that time had about the idea of electing a Catholic to high office – whether he might be beholden to, or dictated to by, his church. John Kennedy put that partly to rest by saying forcefully that while he was a loyal Catholic, his church never would dictate policy to him when he was acting as a public servant. And that line seems to have been broadly accepted, nationally and within the church.

Would Archbishop Vlazny say now that Kennedy was wrong? And if Kennedy’s rationale was wrong, should non-Catholics have the old concerns about electing someone of that faith?

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