Thomas Dennelly: The Man Behind the Pro-life Kennedy Letter.

Every once in a while, there emerges an ordinary citizen who refuses to stand by and allow evil to triumph by doing something extraordinary. I had long admired the eloquent, informed letters to the editor of Thomas Dennelly Jr. in "The Long Island Catholic" and the "National Catholic Register". I wondered ‘who is that man, and why hasn’t he become a journalist?"

One day, after my story "A Special Mother is Born" was published in "Faith and Family" magazine, I received an email from the wife to Thomas Dennelly’s son, who blogs at Vive Christus Rex. She wanted to know who I was, and I was delighted to hear from her and tell what a noble family she had married into. It seems the gift of written expression runs in the Dennelly family.

Then, I heard this story which is in today’s NCRegister blog. Thomas was not only politically saavy enough to elicit Kennedy’s memorable response to his query about his stand on abortion, but he wisely kept his copy of the letter. Kennedy’s response is unequivocal in his condemnation of abortion as a moral evil:

Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which much be recognized–the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old,” ‘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.

Contrast this with a statement Kennedy made in a Senate floor speech in opposition to the ban on partial-birth abortion in 2003:

I do not believe it is the role of the Senate to interfere with or regulate the kind of medical advice that a doctor can give to a patient”

That year Kennedy also voted for an amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D.-Iowa) that said the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade correctly and that abortion is a constitutional right. HT CNS
Here again, beautiful prolife words from the man whom NARAL and Planned Parenthood praised for his 100% pro-abortion voting record:

On the question of the individual’s freedom of choice there are easily available birth control methods and information which women may employ to prevent or postpone pregnancy,” Kennedy wrote. “But once life has begun, no matter what stage of growth, it is my belief that termination should not be decided merely by desire.

I admire the fact that Mr Dennelly was prudent enough to keep this important letter for future reference. When, riled by Kennedy’s incoherent response to his letter protesting his vote against the Hyde Amendment in 1978 ( bans the use of federal funds for abortion), Dennelly released the 1971 letter to National Right to Life News, and the Catholic League. It was a powerful tool against Kennedy’s rants against pro-life Catholic Supreme Court nominees Alito and Roberts in the Judiciary Committee. Kennedy’s own words were a rebuke to what he had become and the job of cricizing the pro-life views of Catholics fell to others, who could be accused of anti-Catholic bigotry.

Dennelly’s letter revealed Kennedy’s pro-life roots and vividly illustrated just how far away from the Culture of Life he had traveled. His departure from Catholic morality in his politics paralleled the moral depravity of Kennedy’s other extra-curricular activities. Perhaps as he betrayed his Catholic upbringing, his hurting conscience led him to give up on living a good life. A good, honest confession could have stoppped this downward trend. On "Meet the Press" Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said, "we are a Church of sinners." She went on to mouth politically correct mumbo-jumbo about overcoming your faults and moving forward, but never mentioned confession of your sins first. Perhaps the liberal clergy of the 70’s are somewhat to blame, but the Kennedys were raised in the old Church and should have known better. Whatever the reasons, when Kennedy reformed his personal life after the Kennedy Smith rape trial, he forgot to redeem his politics. Tragic. A posthumous memoir to be published Sept 14 seems to confirm that Kennedy was guilt-ridden for 40 years over Chappaquiddick. Guilt does funny things to your conscience, often egging you on to worse feats as if you were saying "What difference does it make, I’ve done that?"

Now I have read excerpts of the famous "1971 letter to a constituent" everywhere from the blogs, to the Wall Street Journal, to Jill Stanek’s column. Dennelly’s son refers to it in this post. He was three when it was sent. How the world has changed since then! How much political damage has been done to the Democratic Party by their marriage to the cause of abortion on demand? It has been said that if the Democratic Party had a pro-life platform, it wouldn’t have lost an election since 1980. Dennelly himself attributes defection of many pro-life politicians, both Catholic and Protestant to Kennedy’s poor example:

I think the implication is that Kennedy was the vanguard for tempting all these Catholics, particularly in the Democratic Party, but also some segments of the Republican Party, as well. And if Kennedy had not come out [pro-abortion] and had used his God-given talents and accepted the indisputable scientific truth that the child is scientifically a human from conception, I don’t think you would have had this avalanche of Roman Catholic elected officials following him.

Amen, Mr Dennelly, couldn’t have said it better myself!


Mother to three daughters and a Literature instructor, Leticia has always loved writing, good literature, and classic films. She became a blogger in 2006, and began to include film reviews on her blogs, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, and Cause of Our Joy Suddenly Leticia was thrust into the world of film criticism when Eric Sheske of the National Catholic Register mentioned her blog as a source for Catholic film reviews. The next day, an invitation arrived to attend a film premiere in Hollywood, which she accepted, and a film critic was born.
Leticia began Catholic Media Review to guide parents in their decisions on whether to let their children see a particular film. She also promotes independent family films like “Bella”, and “Fireproof” so that they can reach a larger audience.
Her goal is nothing less than a transformation of the culture to what Pope John Paul II called a “Culture of Life”. She realizes that the pivotal role the media has to play in this transformation, and is determined that those who would defame Christ’s message do not have the last word.
She writes film and book reviews for the following publications: MercatorNet, Catholic Exchange, Catholic Online, and “National Catholic Register”. Her reviews have been posted at the websites of Reuters, IMBD, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, and various TV news stations.

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  • Warren Jewell

    As Euripides observantly noted before Christ was born, “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad”. And, the Democratic leadership increasingly bears this out. Ted Kennedy is leader of leaders in this aspect.