The internet and the tabloids are having a field day with the vexed question of whom President Obama will choose as his ambassador to the Holy See. President Bill Clinton’s choice was the pro-life Ray Flynn, former Mayor of Boston. Flynn met the first test of an ambassador: he did no harm. How accurately Ray was able to represent his principal is a question.
Bill Clinton famously said he wanted abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare.” But he also said—in official statements to the U.S. Supreme Court—that abortion was a fundamental constitutional right. Is there any other fundamental right that we would want to be rare?
That Clinton statement was of course subject to interpretation. The Clintons wanted to make abortion rare by offering a national health care plan that would have required the 87% of U.S. counties that do not have abortion centers to open them. They made it rare by dispatching the Red Cable—orders to every U.S. embassy in the world--requiring our diplomats to lobby their host countries for abortion on demand. The Clintons pushed abortion at the UN, abortion in overseas “family planning,” and abortion in U.S. military hospitals. They supported the Freedom of Choice Act (the fatal FOCA) that would have removed any and all protections for unborn children. The only places, arguably, that abortion became rare by Clinton administration policy were the Moon and Antarctica.
Ambassador Ray Flynn was able to maintain his faith and his integrity. He is a respected pro-life ally. He says Caroline Kennedy would be a bad choice for President Obama’s Ambassador to the Holy See. He’s right.
What a tragedy. To millions of American Catholics, John F. Kennedy will always be the hero who blazed the trail for Catholics in public life. Even when we disagreed with his policies, we laughed at his wit and admired his style.
In 1962, President Kennedy attended the Al Smith Memorial Dinner in Manhattan. He regaled his impressive audience with the old story of Al Smith sending a one-word telegram to the Pope when he lost his presidential bid: “Unpack.” Then, J.F.K. said the Holy See had just seen his latest proposal for federal aid to education. The Vatican didn’t like it. The Pope, President Kennedy said, had just sent him a telegram: “Pack!”
The audience roared. The whole country laughed. I laugh whenever I see video of Jack Kennedy delivering those lines—even as I would have opposed his education bill. That’s because it stiff-armed the needs of parochial school students and their tax-paying parents.
Caroline Kennedy’s picture during those terrible days of November, 1963, remains in all our minds. It is tragic that she has joined the politically correct legions. Does she really think that unrestricted abortion and counterfeiting marriage are ways of remaining true to her father’s legacy? If President Kennedy supported any of these things, he certainly never said so in public. The American Catholic community—which remains strongly pro-life—should respond with great regret to Caroline Kennedy’s hopes for a diplomatic assignment in Rome: “Unpack!”
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