Friday, December 11, 2009

Weak-kneed Leader

Representative Patrtick Kennedy’s announcement that he’s “not going to indulge in this debate any longer,” referring to his rejection of Catholic Church beliefs, was reminiscent of a strategy George Aiken floated at the height of the Vietnam War.

“Declare victory and pull out!” the late Vermont senator suggested.

Speaking at a Brown University forum Monday evening, Kennedy said he was pulling out, having milked his confrontation with Bishop Thomas J. Tobin for all it was worth after igniting it by indiscreetly disclosing a private communication he had received from the latter.

Tobin had informed him it would be inappropriate to receive Communion as a champion of abortion.

Kennedy, like other pols before him, thus discovered it was much easier to profess his faith than it was to actually practice it, so he decided to cast himself as a martyr. Why not? There’s never been a better time to beat up on the Catholic Church. It plays well to malcontents and dissidents who’ve long resisted its teachings, and to activists and anarchists who resent its disapproval of their agendas.

What’s more, everyone knows the Catholic Church is still reeling from the scandal that erupted in its midst. Indeed, it remains such a slow-moving target that WBZ radio, never known for its spirituality, conducted a poll asking its listeners whether they felt Kennedy was worthy of receiving Communion.

It brings to mind a puckish thought from Ronald Reagan: “I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress.”
No one likes to be told no, which explains why God’s been told by many to take a hike today.
“Militant secular forces have succeeded in making the very mention of a divine presence in human affairs illegal,” Rabbi David Neiman, a former BC theology professor, noted. “This has led inevitably to the notion that the idea of sin has no place in our society. Without moral law, everything is permitted.”

Maybe Kennedy was right, telling the bishop to pass the Communion and mind his own business.
But the rabbi, who’s a bit wiser, gets the nod here. “No” is a word this society needs to hear a little more often because everything is obviously not OK, no matter what our weak-kneed leaders prefer us to believe.

Joe Fitzgerald in the Boston Hearld

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