Tom McFeely is the National Catholic Register’s News Editor. He lives in British Columbia.
Father Raymond J. de Souza contrasts the lives and legacies of Eunice Kennedy Shriver (and her husband Sargent Shriver) and Sen. Edward Kennedy in this way:
The Shrivers represented the old Democratic Party—economically liberal and culturally conservative. They were routed by the new Democratic Party—economically liberal and culturally libertine—of which Ted became the poster boy. The tortured relationship of the Catholic Church with the Democratic Party mirrored that cleavage. Eunice was the ideal of the Catholic in public life—passionately committed to the poor, defender of the weak, pro-life, morally upright and a woman of faith and family. But the party followed Ted.
The Shrivers were devout Catholics who lived their faith with integrity privately before bringing its implications to the public square. Before Alzheimer’s took its toll on Sargent, he was a daily communicant, attending Mass either in Maryland or in Hyannis, Mass., a well-worn rosary often in hand. He shared his Marian devotion with his wife; in a statement upon Eunice’s death, her family noted that “she was forever devoted to the Blessed Mother. May she be welcomed now by Mary to the joy and love of life everlasting, in the certain truth that her love and spirit will live forever.”
Such lines will not be written of Ted Kennedy who, as one of America’s most prominent Catholics, blazed the trail of making religious belief an entirely private matter. His debauchery was the opposite of the Shrivers’ piety. Having broken up his own family, he degenerated into a dissoluteness that reached its nadir on Good Friday, 1991, when instead of doing the Stations of the Cross at the local parish, he took his son and nephew out for a night of bar-hopping and skirt-chasing. The details of Ted’s behaviour that night were embarrassingly sordid. It gave rise to the joke that Senator Kennedy’s religion was so private he refused to impose it on himself.
But Teddy’s malign influence is no laughing matter. In many ways his Good Friday licentiousness was a harbinger for the decadent age of Clinton. The sexual license that Ted Kennedy lived most of his adult life had its public policy consequence in his fervent devotion to the cause of abortion—for any reason, at any time, preferably publicly funded. The very children that Eunice devoted her life to defending are less likely to see the light of day now, in large part due to the unrestricted abortion license her brother did more than any other to defend.
Read all of Father de Souza’s article, “A Tale of Two Kennedys”, here in the National Post.