A Catholic president?

This eightieth anniversary issue of Commonweal goes to press a week before Election Day. Many of our subscribers will know the result of the 2004 presidential race-if there is a clear-cut result-before they receive this special double issue in the mail. We will not be doing any prognosticating in this space; and, as a nonprofit enterprise, we cannot endorse a candidate for political office. Certainly we share the view of many Americans that the choice voters must make between George W. Bush and John Kerry is likely to be a momentous one. In that regard, perhaps it is appropriate to alert readers to the unsuspected, some might say ironic, influence this magazine has had on this year’s election. As it happens, some of the ideas you have heard invoked in this campaign originally appeared in Commonweal.

As is well known, John Kerry is the first Catholic nominated for president by a major political party since John F. Kennedy. One notorious hurdle Kennedy had to overcome was the deep suspicion Protestants had that a Catholic could not be faithful to both his religion and the Constitution’s strict separation of church and state. Kerry, of course, faces a very different political problem, one concerning his loyalty to the church more than his responsiveness to the electorate at large. Among the Senate’s most dogmatic supporters of abortion rights, Kerry appears to be defying the church’s unambiguous moral teaching....

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