Archbishop Chaput Fingers JFK

Related to the juxtaposed references to articles on civic and religious engagement in Monday’s post, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput delivered an address at Houston Baptist University on Monday entitled The Vocation of Christians in American Public Life, which is particularly interesting for the way he takes John F. Kennedy to task for his famous speech in Houston 50 years ago, in which Kennedy tried to reassure his audience of Protestant ministers that his Catholicism would not play a meaningful role in his public performance of duty, should he be elected President of the United States. Archbishop Chaput lays at Kennedy’s feet much of the facile double-mindedness that has since become so culpably endemic in the lives of too many Catholic public figures. Furthermore, he ties it to a general disintegration of of intellectual, moral, and spiritual vitality within the Catholic Church in America:

Too many Catholics confuse their personal opinions with a real Christian conscience. Too many live their faith as if it were a private idiosyncrasy – the kind that they’ll never allow to become a public nuisance. And too many just don’t really believe.

It’s a pretty sober reflection.