Friday, December 07, 2007

The Middle Way

Cardinal John Henry Newman would have dubbed Mitt Romney’s address on religion a "Middle Way," a via media, between, say, Hilaire Belloc and former president John Kennedy.

Campaigning for a position in Parliament, Belloc was accosted on the stump by a woman who objected to his Roman Catholicism. He drew some rosary beads from his pocket and said to the lady, “Madam, do you see these beads? I pray on them every night before I go to bed and every morning when I wake up. And if that offends you madam, I pray God he will spare me the ignominy of representing you in Parliament.”

Kennedy formed an uneasy alliance with the anti-Catholic bigotry of his day by surrendering to it.

That bigotry – the first and strongest prejudice of the new nation, said Arthur Schlesinger – is still very much with us, though it has assumed different forms. If Kennedy were alive today, he would have to draft an apologia to neo-pagans should he want to win the presidency.

Romney did not, and for this he will be taken to task.

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