The penchant of the Roman Catholic for politics is well known. It extends both to laymen and clerics. The nexus of many a municipal political machine has been a close liaison between parish priest and diocesan bishop, on the one hand, and the boss, on the other. New York City, Boston, and Chicago offer ready examples. In New York City where 80 per cent of the Catholics regularly vote the Democratic ticket, no Protestant would have a chance to be mayor. In Massachusetts, from Boss Curley’s time, the dominant political power has been Roman Catholic. It is axiomatic that no man can be nominated on the Democratic ticket without the nod of Cardinal Cushing. No Protestant could possibly be elected mayor of Chicago today because of the large “Catholic vote.” In 1959 the Mayoral race featured Catholics on both major tickets and another Catholic on a third party ticket.

On the national scene Roman Catholic political power is a formidable front unparalleled by organized Protestantism. The Catholic role has been that of king maker rather than king. While there has been an unwritten rule that the presidential nominee of the Democratic party must not be Catholic, there has been an equally prevailing rule that the chairman of the national committee must always be Catholic.

Now the Catholic genius for politics is taking a new direction. It turns from king-maker to king. It would like, perhaps, to achieve in the nation what it has already achieved in New York, Boston, and Chicago. It is challenging the prevailing rule (disastrously disregarded once) that no major party nominee can be of Roman Catholic faith. A ground swell within this communion advocates abandonment of the traditional taboo. This sentiment converges on Senator John F. Kennedy ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: