Santorum to Respond to JFK in Houston Speech

Monday, September 6, 2010 \AM\.\Mon\.

This Thursday (September 9th) will see former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) come to my campus, the University of St. Thomas-Houston. Santorum is set to give an address on the role of Faith and Public Life. It is quite clear that this address is merely a precursor to a 2012 presidential run and thus it will be a highly politicized speech, as was JFK’s speech on Faith in the Public Square 50 years ago. Nonetheless, I am curious to hear what Santorum has to say. I promise to provide a recap of the address for this blog sometime next weekend, so stay tuned.

If Santorum is to run for President successfully he is going to have his work cut out for him. Much like Senator Sam Brownback in 2008, Senator Santorum will be pegged as the “values candidate”.  In order to gain any traction, Santorum will need to do well in Iowa, a state that has a track record of hostility towards Catholic candidates. If social conservative heavyweights like Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin jump in the race, Santorum might as well throw in the towel and hope to be someone’s VP. To his great credit, Santorum has admitted that he was wrong to have endorsed the pro-choice, Arlen Specter over the pro-life candidate, Pat Toomey during the 2004 Pennsylvania Senate Republican primary.

Even though he has been out of the Senate for almost 4 years now, Santorum remains a controversial figure in American politics, as evidenced by comments on blog posts here and here. More on Santorum next weekend…

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President Kennedy Was Wrong

Wednesday, March 3, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.

Hattip to Sandro Magister. On September 12, 1960 John F. Kennedy, running for president, spoke to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association to assuage the fears of many in the country that his loyalty would be to the Pope rather than to the Constitution.  (The irony of course was that JFK took his faith quite lightly, to put it politely.)  The text of the speech is here.  On Monday March 1, 2010, Archbishop Chaput, at Houston Baptist University, gave a reply to this speech.

The core of the speech is that Kennedy was wrong:

Fifty years ago this fall, in September 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. He had one purpose. He needed to convince 300 uneasy Protestant ministers, and the country at large, that a Catholic like himself could serve loyally as our nation’s chief executive. Kennedy convinced the country, if not the ministers, and went on to be elected. And his speech left a lasting mark on American politics. It was sincere, compelling, articulate – and wrong. Not wrong about the patriotism of Catholics, but wrong about American history and very wrong about the role of religious faith in our nation’s life. And he wasn’t merely “wrong.” His Houston remarks profoundly undermined the place not just of Catholics, but of all religious believers, in America’s public life and political conversation. Today, half a century later, we’re paying for the damage.

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