An old Jewish joke and Kennedy’s Catholicism

The news lines are aflutter with the fact that the Vatican has kept mum about Kennedy’s death. This is scarcely surprising given that Kennedy, although raised a Catholic, took (and sought to use his political power to impose on America) political positions that are anathema to the Church:

Edward Kennedy, it can be said, was not cut out for the priestly life. His first marriage to former model Virginia Joan Bennett, ended in divorce in 1982, with the marriage annulled by the Roman Rota more than a decade later. And there are the infamous episodes in his life that showed a man not quite in control of his demons. But ultimately, beyond his personal travails, Kennedy’s relationship with the Church hierarchy was destined for conflict because of politics. The Senator became both the face and engine of the liberal wing of the Democratic party that has long led the battle for abortion rights, stem cell research and gay marriage, all of which Catholic doctrine strictly forbids.

So really, considering that Kennedy rather brutishly pushed aside moral and doctrinal issues central to the Catholic faith, one has to wonder just how much of a Catholic he really was. Which leads me to my Jewish joke:

Sammy Goldberg made it big in business, and the first thing he did was to go out and buy a very big yacht. The second thing he did was to invite his mother on board so that she could see him in all his glory. He met her in a lovely uniform he’d designed himself, complete with stripes on the sleeves, gold buttons and captain’s hat.

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As his mother boarded, Sammy said to her, “Look at me, Ma. I’m a captain!”

To which his mother replied: “Sammy, by me you’re a captain and by you you’re a captain. But tell me, by captains are you a captain?”

One can easily say the same of Kennedy’s affiliation with the faith of his childhood — and one can forgive the Vatican for its studied silence.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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