An old Jewish joke and Kennedy’s Catholicism

The news lines are aflutter with the fact that the Vatican has kept mum about Kennedy’s death.  This is scarcely surprising given that Kennedy, although raised a Catholic, took (and sought to use his political power to impose on America) political positions that are anathema to the Church:

Edward Kennedy, it can be said, was not cut out for the priestly life. His first marriage to former model Virginia Joan Bennett, ended in divorce in 1982, with the marriage annulled by the Roman Rota more than a decade later. And there are the infamous episodes in his life that showed a man not quite in control of his demons. But ultimately, beyond his personal travails, Kennedy’s relationship with the Church hierarchy was destined for conflict because of politics. The Senator became both the face and engine of the liberal wing of the Democratic party that has long led the battle for abortion rights, stem cell research and gay marriage, all of which Catholic doctrine strictly forbids.

So really, considering that Kennedy rather brutishly pushed aside moral and doctrinal issues central to the Catholic faith, one has to wonder just how much of a Catholic he really was.  Which leads me to my Jewish joke:

Sammy Goldberg made it big in business, and the first thing he did was to go out and buy a very big yacht.  The second thing he did was to invite his mother on board so that she could see him in all his glory.  He met her in a lovely uniform he’d designed himself, complete with stripes on the sleeves, gold buttons and captain’s hat.

As his mother boarded, Sammy said to her, “Look at me, Ma.  I’m a captain!”

To which his mother replied:  “Sammy, by me you’re a captain and by you you’re a captain.  But tell me, by captains are you a captain?”

One can easily say the same of Kennedy’s affiliation with the faith of his childhood — and one can forgive the Vatican for its studied silence.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

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  • 11B40


    The Catholic Church has a sacrament called Penance in which one confesses one’s sins to a priest and receives absolution. One of the requirements of a proper confession is “a firm purpose of amendment”. I’m guessing the recently deceased Senator Kennedy may have come up a little short in this regard.

  • suek

    I’m Catholic. As such, I found John F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy hypocrites and seeming to lack an understanding of what Catholicism meant. Didn’t know much about Bobby. I agree with 11B40’s statement. By what means a man and woman can be married and have 11 children, and then get that marriage annulled – I simply can’t imagine by the rules as I know them. In that case, however, the fault is more with those who can be pressured to accede to such requests than with those who make them.

    I hope the Vatican maintains its silence. It’s not the place of the living to make a judgment about the soul of the departed, but certainly the living can have their speculations.

  • Charles Martel

    suek, as a Catholic I, too, hope Benedict remains totally silent on the topic.

    I also am hopeful that as the wheels come off the Obama juggernaut that Kathleen Sebelius’s archbishop will call on her to publicly renounce her support for unlimited abortion and infanticide. And then, when she predictably refuses, toss her murderous arse out of the church. I’ve had it with a hierarchy that tolerates very bent people like her, Pelosi, Biden and Teddy (RIP) openly spitting on and squatting over a fundamental Christian teaching.

  • Tiresias

    The Vatican doesn’t require forgiveness for its studied silence. Applause, maybe – but certainly not forgiveness.


    It’s not the place of the living to make a judgment about the soul of the departed, but certainly the living can have their speculations.

    Beautifully said suek.

    The silence of the Vatican is very loud and clear.

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