That image of a practicing Irish Catholic is what Kerry has been putting forward, harking to the time of John F. Kennedy, when Catholics across the country voted to put one of their own in the White House.
“Catholics are definitely a constituency we are courting,” says a Kerry adviser in Washington. “Here we have a practicing Catholic, who is in line with the majority of American practicing Catholics. Rome may not be thrilled with the Senator’s position on some of the social issues, but the pope doesn’t have a vote in this election. But there are probably millions of pro-choice Catholics who do, and Kerry is their man.”
The Kerry campaign was said to be surprised at the coverage their candidate received for attending Mass while on vacation in Idaho. “You saw conservatives all up in arms that he was receiving communion, when most American Catholics do the same thing and live a life very similar to the senator’s: divorced, pro-choice, etcetera,” says the Kerry adviser. “It just highlights how out of touch the right wing is with America, and we can play to that.”
To that end, according to other sources inside the Kerry camp, aides are attempting to identify a Catholic diocese, and perhaps even a specific priest and church, where Kerry could attend a Mass with reporters present, and be turned away at the altar attempting to receive communion.
Under Roman Catholic doctrine, a priest can withhold communion from someone who is known to be either in a serious state of sin, or who should otherwise be disqualified from receiving the sacrament. It is a rule that is almost never invoked, and almost certainly has never been used as a political ploy, either by the church or a politician seeking some kind of photo opportunity.
In the past calls have been made to excommunicate liberal politicians not in agreement with the Church’s teachings on abortion, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, for example, or more recently, Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota. But neither man was officially sanctioned by his respective bishop.
Kerry’s situation should be no different. But Kerry and his staff are apparently willing to use the Catholic Church as a political wedge, and hope that some politically conservative priest will be willing to take the bait.p> NEW DAY FOR CYNTHIA
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