The Boston Globe predictably editorialized on Wednesday against Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin for "targeting" Rep. Patrick Kennedy ("Rhode Island bishop errs in targeting Patrick Kennedy.") They predictably cavil that bishops don’t punish politicians who support the death penalty and wars.
What sets this leaden chunk of argument apart is its boast the bishop's attention is "ironic" since the Kennedy family have long been a flock of terrific, devout Catholics that drew others into the church. They have been virtual magnets of holiness. Yes, you may pick up your jaw now:
Among Catholic politicians, Patrick Kennedy is both an obvious target, because of his prominence, and a deeply ironic one, because of the decades of loyalty and support the Kennedy family has given to the Catholic Church. Though they may not always have lived strictly by church teachings, Patrick’s father, uncles, aunts, and grandmother were all devout Catholics whose intensive commitment to worship drew others into the church. The Kennedys accorded priests and bishops an honored position in their lives. Edward Kennedy’s dying appeal to the pope proves that the church was never far from the late senator’s mind.
Like other liberal media outlets, including the snarling Chris Matthews lecture (don't call it an interview) with Bishop Tobin, the Globe makes no attempt to consider whether Patrick Kennedy's hot talk about how the Catholic church isn't pro-life if it protests ObamaCare and shouldn't be "fanning the flames of dissent" on a "red herring" like abortion. They seem to endorse implicitly Patrick's assertion that he can be relentlessly pro-abortion and still be a "good Catholic." The Globe thinks that even if one hasn't exactly "lived strictly by church teachings," you show you're a good Catholic by regular church attendance. Sitting in a pew cancels out anything else that you do?
There really is no other verdict for writing like this: as the Boston Brahmin character Charles Emerson Winchester once declared fondly of his butlers on television, they are "bathed in the glow of utter servility."
The Globe typically worried about uptight church officials and their "disproportionate influence" on politicians by telling them certain votes might count against them in the next life:
In 1960, Patrick Kennedy’s uncle fought bravely to convince voters that he could keep his personal beliefs apart from his public responsibilities. John F. Kennedy knew that he was elected president of all the people, not just Catholics, and could not give church authorities disproportionate influence while remaining true to his oath of office. And yet that’s exactly what Tobin is expecting from Patrick Kennedy now.