Editorial: "Good Catholic" and "Good President" Are Not the Same

April 30, 2004

Source: The National Catholic Reporter


On April 30, 2004 The National Catholic Reporter reported, "Assume for the moment that John Kerry’s Catholic critics are correct. That a Catholic legislator, or would-be president, cannot embrace abortion rights (or embryonic stem cell research, or gay rights or you name it) and be a 'good Catholic.' It’s an interesting debate, one in which even some 'good Catholics' -- those who would pass these narrow litmus tests -- might disagree. But that discussion has nothing -- zero -- to do with whether John Kerry should be president of the United States. Kerry might be a 'bad Catholic'(or a 'good' one for that matter) and still be an exemplary president; or a failed one. Personal piety and religious observance are not prerequisites of national leadership. Were Jefferson and Lincoln good Deists? Hoover and Nixon exemplary Quakers? Kennedy a committed Catholic? George H.W. Bush a first-rate Episcopalian? Clinton a quality Baptist? George W. Bush a pious Methodist? Who cares? History judges these men not on their religious zeal, but on their performance in office. How God judges them is for God to decide."