When John Kennedy ran for president in 1960, he was accused of being unavoidably biased because of his religion. He would, critics said, be controlled by the Vatican, not the American people. In a speech on September 12, 1960, Kennedy attempted to lay those fears to rest.”I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute – where no Catholic prelate would tell the President, should he be a Catholic, how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote,” Kennedy said.Today we would call those critics paranoid, anti-Catholic bigots. To believe that the Catholic Church is at all homogenous is ridiculous. The very name means universal. Take a look at our own Catholic Newman Community and you will see members of every race, academic interest and political stripe.So it’s surprising and disturbing that nearly 45 years later, when anti-Catholic sentiment in America has all but disappeared, the Catholic Church seems to be enforcing the same stereotypes that worked against it for so long.I had no idea presidential candidate John Kerry was Catholic until I found out that several prominent bishops, including the archbishop of Boston, had decided to take action against Catholic politicians who go against established church positions on issues such as abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage. In some cases there were threats of withholding Holy Communion.According to a July 2001 ABCNEWS/Beliefnet poll, 55 percent of American Catholics believe abortions should be legal all or some of the time, compared to 52 percent of all Americans.In other words, Kerry and similar politicians are being punished not for their beliefs, but for the visibility of their beliefs. If the Church took measures against all Catholics who believe abortions should be legal, they’d be essentially excommunicating over half of the American Church. Besides which, Kerry personally opposes abortion, but does not believe it is the government’s place to make it illegal. That sounds suspiciously like separation of church and state.Want to see the fastest way of making sure a Catholic is never elected to high office? Convince the public they will do what the Church tells them to do. Reawaken outdated prejudices and fears among non-Catholics.Yes, the Church has a right to state its position on issues that may be in the political arena. But when it begins punishing politicians for political actions, it becomes problematic. We, as Catholics, should be looking for more fundamental Christian values in our politicians – whether they will feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless and care for those in prisons.Stoll can be reached at jstoll@campustimes.org.



Gaza solidarity encampment: Live updates

The Campus Times is live tracking the Gaza solidarity encampment on Wilson Quad and the administrative response to it. Read our updates here.

UR Womens’ Lacrosse trounces Nazareth 17-5

UR’s Womens’ Lacrosse team beat Nazareth University 17–5 on Tuesday at Fauver Stadium.

Zumba in medicine, the unexpected crossover

Each year at URMC, a new cohort of unsuspecting pediatrics residents get a crash course. “There are no mistakes in Zumba,” Gellin says.