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August 26, 2009

Sons of Perdition: How Certain Catholic Priests Turned the Kennedys Pro-Abortion

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating and deeply saddening article exploring the reasons behind the Kennedy Family's staunch pro-abortion position. Believe it or not, Ted Kennedy used to be pro-life. So how did he and all the other prominent Kennedys swing so far in the opposite direction? For that matter, what about some of the other Catholic pro-abortion zealots in (or recently in) high public office, such as Nancy Pelosi, Mario Cuomo, and Tom Daschle? What happened to them?

(NB: I originally posted this blog entry on January 2, 2009. In view of Ted Kennedy's death today,
I run it again because of its pertinence to his life and legacy, such as it was.)

This article reveals that it was was an intentional, systematic, concerted effort on the part of a group of dissenting Catholic theologians (including Fr. Richard McCormick, Fr. Charles Curran, Fr. Joseph Fuchs, Fr. Robert Drinan, and Fr. John Courtney Murray), who spent a good deal of of time with the Kennedys in the mid 1960s employing bogus moral theology arguments to convince them they could “accept and promote abortion with a clear conscience.” Once this was accomplished, these same Judas priests undertook to literally coach the Kennedy's on what to say and how to vote in favor of abortion in their public lives.

Given the Kennedys' enormous influence over American politics, it's diabolically logical for those dissenting Catholic theologians to have targeted this renowned and respected Catholic family for “conversion.” They were in the perfect position to persuade other Catholics, and even many Protestants, that it's okay to be pro-abortion.
And this strategy worked so well that, today, it is virtually impossible to find a Catholic politician holding national public office who is pro-life. Thanks to these dissenters and those Catholics they duped, “Catholic” is synonymous with “pro-abortion” in politics.

Read here how this hideous transformation was accomplished:

Ms. [Caroline] Kennedy's commitment to abortion rights is shared by other prominent family members, including Kerry Kennedy Cuomo and Maryland's former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Some may recall the 2000 Democratic Convention when Caroline and her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, addressed the convention to reassure all those gathered that the Democratic Party would continue to provide women with the right to choose abortion -- even into the ninth month. At that convention, the party's nominee, Al Gore, formerly a pro-life advocate, pledged his opposition to parental notification and embraced partial-birth abortion. Several of those in attendance, including former President Bill Clinton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, had been pro-life at one time. But by 2000 nearly every delegate in the convention hall was on the pro-choice side -- and those who weren't simply kept quiet about it.

Caroline Kennedy knows that any Kennedy desiring higher office in the Democratic Party must now carry the torch of abortion rights throughout any race. But this was not always the case. Despite Ms. Kennedy's description of Barack Obama, in a New York Times op-ed, as a "man like my father," there is no evidence that JFK was pro-choice like Mr. Obama. Abortion-rights issues were in the fledgling stage at the state level in New York and California in the early 1960s. They were not a national concern.
Even Ted Kennedy, who gets a 100% pro-choice rating from the abortion-rights group Naral, was at one time pro-life. In fact, in 1971, a full year after New York had legalized abortion, the Massachusetts senator was still championing the rights of the unborn. In a letter to a constituent dated Aug. 3, 1971, he wrote: "When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception."
But that all changed in the early '70s, when Democratic politicians first figured out that the powerful abortion lobby could fill their campaign coffers (and attract new liberal voters). Politicians also began to realize 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, church leaders actually started providing "cover" for Catholic pro-choice politicians who wanted to vote in favor of abortion rights. At a meeting at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Mass., on a hot summer day in 1964, the Kennedy family and its advisers and allies were coached by leading theologians and Catholic college professors on how to accept and promote abortion with a "clear conscience."
The former Jesuit priest Albert Jonsen, emeritus professor of ethics at the University of Washington, recalls the meeting in his book "The Birth of Bioethics" (Oxford, 2003). He writes about how he joined with the Rev. Joseph Fuchs, a Catholic moral theologian; the Rev. Robert Drinan, then dean of Boston College Law School; and three academic theologians, the Revs. Giles Milhaven, Richard McCormick and Charles Curran, to enable the Kennedy family to redefine support for abortion.
Mr. Jonsen writes that the Hyannisport colloquium was influenced by the position of another Jesuit, the Rev. John Courtney Murray, a position that "distinguished between the moral aspects of an issue and the feasibility of enacting legislation about that issue." It was the consensus at the Hyannisport conclave that Catholic politicians "might tolerate legislation that would permit abortion under certain circumstances if political efforts to repress this moral error led to greater perils to social peace and order."
Father Milhaven later recalled the Hyannisport meeting during a 1984 breakfast briefing of Catholics for a Free Choice: "The theologians worked for a day and a half among ourselves at a nearby hotel. In the evening we answered questions from the Kennedys and the Shrivers. 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."
But can they now? There are signs today that some of the bishops are beginning to confront the Catholic politicians who consistently vote in favor of legislation to support abortion. Charles J. Chaput, the archbishop of Denver, has been on the front lines in encouraging Catholics to live their faith without compromise in the public square. Most recently in his book "Render Unto Caesar," Archbishop Chaput has reminded Catholic politicians of their obligation to protect life.
The archbishop is not alone. The agenda at November's assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops included a public discussion of abortion and politics. The bishops' final statement focused on concern about the possible passage of the "Freedom of Choice Act," and referred to it as "an evil law that would further divide our country." The bishops referenced their 2007 document, "Faithful Citizenship," which maintains that the right to life is the foundation of every other human right. In it, they promised to "persist in the duty to counsel, in the hope that the scandal of their [Catholic congregants'] cooperating in evil can be resolved by the proper formation of their consciences."


  1. And we have Doug Kmiec today helping to further this monstrocity.

  2. You used the term 'pro-choice' a number of times, a term that shows how anti-life people have corrupted even the language of pro-life people. So-called 'pro-choice' people are anti-choice and pro-abortion. We should never fall into the trap of calling them 'pro-choice'.

    God bless you

    Fr Sean Coyle

  3. Nay, Father Seán. I never used the word "pro-choice." If you look closer, you will see that it was the Wall Street Journal article that used that term.

  4. You're perfectly right and I agree with you. Ted Kennedy will answer to God for what he has done. Don't forget you will be hated by every one because you are a follower of truth - but know that they hated Jesus first. I agree, it is not morally compatible to say you care for the poor and use any means necessary. The ends doesn't justify the means. Many people, including nuns and priests, are blind to the fact that killing the unborn doesn't help the poor.

  5. Great work, Patrick. The teaching of the Catechism on abortion is crystal clear, there's no "wiggle room" on the subject that was presented to the Kennedy's. The Pope has even called for red and white martyrdom on this issue. I feel that certain Catholic politician's career comes well in front of their faith. They should look to Congressman Chris Smith (NJ) for an example of how a Catholic should act in the public square.

  6. I think you give Catholic theologians too much credit. Kennedy and others were pro-choice because their party was - and the party came first.

  7. I think that a lumping is happening here and one may find out at the judgement that not everyone at that meeting would agree with Fr. Milhaven that...."that a Catholic politician could in good conscience vote in favor of abortion." The name Curran presses buttons but I would be very surprised if Fuchs actually said one could vote in "favor of abortion". Augustine and Aquinas permitted states to allow prostitution but not because they endorsed fornication but because Augustine seems to have thought rapes would abound if the state forbade it.
    Be careful of slander in these matters because we are trusting a priest who was there and yet we do not trust him morally because he was there.