John Kerry, like the Supreme Court in 1973, is doing what centuries of prelates could not and would not do: uniting millions of Protestants and Catholics. Just as the Court's Roe vs. Wade decision pushed leaders of both groups to unite against abortion, so Kerry's views are also prompting a political shift.
Look at it this way: In 1960, John F. Kennedy's Catholicism, although nominal, prompted many Catholics to vote for him. In 1980, Jimmy Carter's overt evangelicalism turned off many Catholics. In 2004, according to a recent Pew poll, a majority of Catholics plan to vote for George W. Bush, an overt evangelical, against John Kerry, officially a Catholic.
How nominal is Kerry's Catholicism? Just look at his 1998 interview with American Windsurfer, the journal of a charming sport that has become a Kerry metaphor. The senator said: "I am a believer in the Supreme Being, in God. I believe without any question in this force that is so much larger and more powerful than anything human beings can conceivably define." Sounds more like "Star Wars" than Christ on the cross.
Is Kerry a CINO, a Catholic in name only? He goes to Mass but windsurfs theologically: He has "always been fascinated by the Transcendentalists and the Pantheists and others who found these great connections just in nature, in trees, the ponds, the ripples of the wind on the pond, the great feast of nature itself."
Does Kerry speak about sin? Can't find that anywhere in his published speeches, but he did tell American Windsurfer: "So much of the conflict on the face of this planet is rooted in religions and the belief systems they give rise to. The fundamentalism of one entity or another." He does have ardent praise for the Dalai Lama, who "is certainly telling us there is life from enlightenment -- here and hereafter, but I think, whether or not we're going to be (enlightened) is the great test that all of us are struggling with."
Is this Catholicism? Doesn't sound like it, but these mixed messages are apparently common at Sen. Kerry's home church, the very liberal Paulist Center in Boston. Jonathan Last of The Weekly Standard attended a Center service and observed a reciting of an edited version of the Nicene Creed, with the section on believing in only "one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God," dropped out.