BOOKS: The Making of a Catholic President

I am reading a very interesting book titled *The Making of a Catholic President *by Shaun Casey, Oxford University Press, 2009. Although I was only a grade-schooler in 1960-61, I remember many of the comments and fears surrounding John F. Kennedy’s nomination and election. This book is a scholarly study of the religious issue as it was treated by anti-Catholics and the Kennedy campaign alike. (Scholarly, yet hardly dull at all!) For those of us in our late 50s or older, it will bring back alot of memories and perhaps revive the sense of pride we felt when one of “our own” overcame blatant prejudice to win the nation’s highest office. For those of us too young to have lived through that time, it might be an opportunity to fill in some blank spaces in an important period of Catholic history in the U.S.

This is not a theological work nor a discussion of anyone’s spiritual values. It is a history of a people finally breaking the “2nd class citizen” barrier…a barrier which confronted my own grandparents and parents many times in their lives.

The “Era of the two Johns” should not be forgotten by us Catholics who today enjoy the full fruits of citizenship.

Does it bother you to know that JFK became the first Catholic President after he said he would never let his religion influence him? And he obviously lived up to that promise, judging by his private life.

I believe that JFK’s handling of his Catholic religion has led directly to people like Nancy Peloisi, John Kerry, etc., who say they are Catholic but then deny everything the Catholic Church believes in, and by doing so, have created great scandal. We now have a Catholic Supreme Court justice who will fight for and uphold Roe v. Wade.

I can’t agree with you that I feel proud that JFK is our first “Catholic” president.


Sadly, I have to agree with this.

I am a native Bostonian, my grandfather was an occasional tennis partner of the notorious Joseph Kennedy, and I am greatly saddened at the miserable moral example set by most of the family. There has been very little truly Catholic about them.

On the contrary, I am very proud of President Kennedy and am grateful for the social doors he helped open for his fellow Catholics. If JFK had run in 1960 as “the Catholic Candidate” who swore to make Catholic Church regulations the law of the land, his resounding defeat would have set back the acceptance of Catholics as full-fledged Americans another generation or more. Perhaps some people don’t realize how much we were outsiders in the United States even as late as the 1950s.

In fact, that were many things about the Kennedy family which are very Catholic. Joseph Sr., John & Edward were/are practicing, albeit flawed Catholics. Joe Kennedy’s private correspondence reveals how many influencial clergy in the Vatican he could count as personal friends. Robert was the most conventionally pious of all of the males of his generation.

That JFK inspired a generation of people to become involved in public service, no matter their views, is also to his credit.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit