Magazine article U.S. Catholic

What They Wished For

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

What They Wished For

Article excerpt

WHAT THEY WISHED FOR

By Lawrence J. McAndrews (University of Georgia, 2014)

The election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 has long been described as the apogee of Catholic political life in the history of the United States. Largely eschewing his Irish Catholic identity, Kennedy convinced the electorate that he was an American who happened to be Catholic and not merely a pawn of the Roman pontiff.

Kennedy and his successors have had to deal, for better or worse, with a Catholic electorate increasingly assertive in its demands. Both clergy as well as lay Catholics have had a profound impact on presidential politics. In What They Wished For: American Catholics and American Presidents (1960-2004), Lawrence J. McAndrews traces both the crucial impact of the Catholic hierarchy on presidential decision-making, and also the more subtle but still discernible influence of presidential politics on the development of the American church. Each chapter on an individual presidency is broken down into three major issues: war and peace, social justice, and life and death. …

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