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

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., reportedly drew leading Catholic theologians and college professors to coach the Kennedys and advisers how a politician could support abortion while keeping a “clear conscience.”

“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:

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Pingback: Catholic Singles| Cathoic News 01/06/2009 « Catholic Christian Singles()

  • jmtfh

    Beyond prayer, is there anything we, as faithful lay Catholics can do to rectify such abominable actions (and omissions) on the part of our clergy???

    Would it make any difference at all to instigate a major write-in campaign to New York’s Cardinal Egan???

  • Bruce Roeder

    I’m reminded of the scene in the movie Pollyanna where she says, “Nobody can own a church.”

  • noelfitz

    I am very disappointed with this article. Its tone if anti-Catholic and it is divisive.

    Vague accusations against priests and professors are harmful to the Church.

    The strength of the Church throughout the ages ages has been partially due to the loyalty of the faithful to the Church and the hierarchy.

    The Holy Spirit in his wisdom has appointed popes and they in turn appoint bishops and cardinals.

    If you are not satisfied with Cardinal Egan and know better than him how to run the arch-diocese of New York, you might like to examine your loyalty and commitment to the Church.

    “For when you are subject to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, it is evident to me that you are living not in accordance with human standards but in accordance with Jesus Christ, who died for us in order that by believing in his death you might escape death. It is essential, therefore, that you continue your current practice and do nothing without the bishop, but be subject also to the presbytery as to the apostles of Jesus Christ
    Similarly, let everyone respect the deacons as Jesus Christ, just as they should respect the bishop, who is a model of the Father, and the presbyters as God’s council and as the band of the apostles. Without these no group can be called a church.”

    Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers : Greek Texts and English Translations (Updated ed.; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1999), Ign Trall 2:1-3:3 (Part).

    God bless,


    In necessariis, unitas; in dubiis, libertas; in omnibus, caritas.

  • c-kingsley

    NoelFitz — I get it now, each and every bishop is given the charism of infallibility, so even when they disagree with one another, it is loyalty to blindly follow them all. Some bishops publicly speak against pro-abortion politicians, and others simply don’t. And loyalty requires that we don’t notice this, and we just sit down and smile, and say “yes, bishop, whatever you say, bishop, oh, you da MAN, bishop.”

    Nah. It isn’t disloyal to hope for bishops to lead their diocese in ways that resemble Catholic teaching, and to encourage them to do so. Loyalty, I think, would require that we encourage in a civil manner, and be willing to stick with the church, even when leadership doesn’t do what we wish. Loyalty to The Church requires that we each continue learning and informing ourselves from authoritative sources, and doing our best to follow them.

    For example, you can find priests (and bishops) who excuse abortion under the “conscience clause”: “Uhh, if your conscience says it’s okay to get an abortion, I guess you must follow your conscience. That’s what the Catechism says.” In contrast, the clear teaching of the Church is that abortion is clearly evil, and if your conscience doesn’t say so, the problem is that your conscience is not well formed. Rather than following “your conscience” down the broad and easy path, you need to form your conscience properly.

    Here’s my latin for you:

    Veritas vos Liberabit

  • mrteachersir


    The Holy Father is not protected from appointed poor pastors, but from teaching error. He is not even protected from being a poor shepherd himself! In fact, one of the crosses Holy Mother Church has had to bear in her history is poor bishops, ones that were self-serving, that liked to be in the lime-light, ones that treasured money, fame, and power over their appointed tasks, and ones that were weak, and were used by others for their own gain.

    We must respect the position of bishop, but we must also consider St. Paul’s example: when St. Peter, who was eating with Greek Christians, got up and began to eat with Jewish Christians, St. Paul publicly repudiated his poor leadership. When the most innocent among us are allowed to be murdered for political gain, and the shepherd of NYC will not come to the plate swinging, he needs to be called to account, just as St. Peter was called to account.