Oh, those Kennedy Catholics

Here’s an item of Kennedy Catholic history I’d forgotten about, when one of the wives refused to be cast aside:
Some say the final sunset on the Kennedy name within Catholic halls of power was the Vatican’s decision [revealed] in 2007 to overturn the annulment of the first marriage of former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, the eldest son of Robert Kennedy. The successful appeal by Joe Kennedy’s ex-wife Sheila Rauch, an Episcopalian, was another blow for the Kennedy image in Catholic circles.
Sheila Rauch Kennedy wrote a book about Joe’s “aggressive pursuit of the annulment” that “helped to end his political career.” 
“When you try to defend your marriage, the army that comes after you is pretty brutal,” Rauch Kennedy said [in June of 2007]. “You’re accused of being a vindictive ex-wife, an alcoholic bigot, an idiot.”
The decision was two years old at the time, but she was just hearing of it, as she heard five years after the fact that her marriage had been annulled. 
The annulment had been granted in secrecy . . . after the couple’s 1991 no-fault civil divorce. Rauch found out about the de-sanctification of their marriage only in 1996, after Kennedy had been wedded to his former Congressional aide, Beth Kelly, for three years.
She and Joe K. had twin sons, ipso facto bastardized in the eyes of the church by the secret annullment.  Joe later went into business with Hugo Chavez, marketing heating oil to poor people at cut rates. 
This fit in with the Kennedy schtick as exemplified by the career of the late Ted, who is praised by the immensely ready-for-quotation James Martin:
“He is a complicated figure,” says Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and the culture editor of the Catholic magazine America. “Catholics on the right are critical because of his stance on abortion. Catholics on the left celebrate his achievements on immigration, fighting poverty and other legislation that is a virtual mirror of the Church’s social teaching.”
The virtual-mirror part is highly debatable, of course.  For one thing, Ted the lionized was a firm believer in Dorothy’s Day (ironic) “holy mother the state” and promoted statism strenuously.  Holy Mother the Church was something else, but it seems you have to be “on the right” to make that an issue.  “Complicated figure,” right.  If that’s not priestly b.s., I never heard it.
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  • Jennifer (Bartoli)  On 08/28/2009 at 5:56 PM

    Thanks so much for this “back story.” It is good to see some matters do get set straight, finally. It takes a pope.


  • Margaret  On 09/01/2009 at 5:28 PM

    I was cheered about the Vatican quote that “Kennedy was a nobody.” Actually, he was less than a nobody, which most of us are. He had every opportunity for greatness, but his eminence only made public his weakness of character.


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