Representative Patrick Kennedy has announced that he is not running for re-election; an unheard of event in the last generation, but it may be a sign that the magic of the Kennedy clan has faded among today’s Catholic voters.
For the past four decades, a portrait of President John F. Kennedy was proudly displayed on the walls of Irish Catholic homes, between the Sacred Heart and the Pope. In the seventies, my Irish grandmother was proud of the first Catholic President and his family, collecting coffee table books, and refusing to believe any negative press about them. Now the Catholic voter’s loyalty to the Kennedy family has declined so much that there are doubts whether Kennedy could be re-elected in Rhode Island, the most Catholic of states.
He must be missing what the HuffPo considered the good old days which his father, the late Sen Ted Kennedy helped to create, when Catholic politicians could vote pro-abortion keeping their Democrat constituents happy without ruffling feathers among the faithful. Since the Cardinal O’Connor-Geraldine Ferraro wars in the 80′s, things had been awfully cozy for the majority of Catholic politicians who wanted it both ways.
Unfortunately for Patrick Kennedy, a new breed of bishop has come to power. Bishop Tobin, the only bishop of Rhode Island, was unequivocal in his correction of Kennedy for his pro-abortion stance, prohibited by Canon Law 915. The news of Bishop Tobin’s war of words with Patrick Kennedy over his support of abortion funding in the health care legislation spread far and wide from Catholic blogs to Fox news(even HuffPo had to cover it), and may have been responsible for his demise. Catholics supported the bishops’ refusal to give Kennedy holy communion. His constituents in a recent poll gave him a 56% negative rating, with only 35% saying they would vote for him.
Perhaps this is why we see Patrick Kennedy changing direction and becoming pensive. He told the Boston Herald Magazine that his father’s death has caused him to reflect on relationships and priorities in his life, and how at 42, he would like to start a family.
“Kennedy told the magazine he is not sure what’s next for him, but he wants to model the next chapter of his life after his late aunt, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who founded the Special Olympics.”
Kennedy may be able to change his priorities, by following the noble example of his Aunt Eunice, and for that, Bishop Tobin and a new generation of Catholic constituents, is praying.