'Staunch' Catholics?

'Staunch' Catholics?

Frank Bellet

It is interesting to reflect on the language used by some journalists, when touching on the subject of the Catholic faith. Some might have noticed that if a journalist doesn't like some prominent figure, who is a practising Catholic, they refer to that person as a 'staunch' Catholic, mildly suggesting that the person, so described, is a bit over the top.

On the other hand, sometimes they quite loosely throw around the word 'staunchly' Catholic, when in fact that description is somewhat debatable.

Recently a Fiona Barton, described as a Washington correspondent, wrote an article on the marriage annulment of Joe and Sheila Kennedy and the subsequent overruling by the Vatican, which caught my eye.

What attracted my attention was not the main subject matter, but rather Barton's description of the Kennedys as 'staunchly' Catholic. I think we should have been spared that.

Patriarch Joe Kennedy Sr (father of the president) was a stockbroker who made his fortune on 'insider trading'.

It is no secret that each of his sons, President John, Robert and Teddy were incurable womanisers. Some might remember Teddy (the breaststroke champion swimmer of Chappaquiddick) abandoning a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, to drown, when he crashed his car off a bridge at Chappaquiddick.

Then there was Teddy's vote in the Senate in favour of a partial birth abortion bill (up to nine months). If all this entitles the Kennedys to a description as 'staunch' in relation to their religion, then the word has lost its meaning.

Petrie, Qld

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