Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Is Giuliani Another JFK Catholic?

According to Richard Cohen of the WASHINGTON POST, Rudy had a Kennedy moment when he told a reporter that his religious beliefs were none of his business. That allegedly signaled that Rudy would be guided by his own reason rather than by any religious authority as president. Romney, meanwhile, acknowledged that his religious beliefs might have some limited influence over his public policy views. But can Giuliani’s rude or manly moment really substitute for his sustained reflection on the place of religion in his personal and American public life? And can we really say that his repeated suggestion that ROE was rightly decided is actually based on reason?

Discussions - 17 Comments

Hate to say it, but he sounds like a typical cradle Catholic - unable to defend his faith, or explain how his faith might inform hs actions, or point out where the Church's concerns might parallel an ordinary citizen's. It's just all visceral.

My guess is that Guiliani hasn't seriously reflected on the extent to which his Catholicism informs his public views, at least in part because he's not all that serious a Catholic. For those interested in the intersection of public/political life and Catholicism what is needed is not another JFK moment but an Augustinian one adapted to the peculiar character of American life. A Catholic conservative shouldn't just make the sheepish claim that his religious views are rationally defensible but the more substantive claim that the rational foundations of the American polity are inseparable from its religious fabric.

Giuliani, if elected, will be be America's first fairly open atheist President. I don't think he can fairly be called Catholic even as a matter of labeling.

Reconsidering, I'd say his "faith" does not reside in his viscera either, especially given his machinations during his divorce and remarriage.

It doesn't mean anything to him except as cultural ID for the sake of votes.

No voter needs to concern himself that Guiliani's Catholicism is anything more than a cultural moniker. He doesn't seem to abide by the Church's most important teachings on the sanctity of life and the importance of fidelity. In other words, his faith is on par with that of John Kerry, Kennedy, etc. Unfortunately for me, their public acts of thumbing their noses at Catholic teaching makes a mockery of that which I take seriously.

Forget the Cohen column. I must disagree with my friends above. Rudy gave a very Catholic answer to the question. The state of one's soul is not the business of the world, and is indeed the business of the confessional. Reason is a different matter. Peter is correct that his Catholicism can't SUBSTITUTE for right reason as it bears on the Constitution and abortion. And I don't know how "John" rationally comes to his conclusion, above.

I don't know how "John" rationally comes to his conclusion, above.

Well, Robert, I came to it rationally by being familiar with Giulianis history and actions.

You say that when he "told a reporter that his religious beliefs were none of his business" it was a very Catholic answer. This indicates a certain lack of awareness about Catholicism and Christianity.

The state of one's soul is not the business of the world, and is indeed the business of the confessional.

Giuliani, if he is a genuine Catholic, is called on to testify about Christ to the world, not to deny him. But does anyone harbor the faintest belief that Giuliani is anything other than an atheist? Answer honestly please.

John, for bearing false witness I commend you to the confessional.

Robert, if you would like to try to argue that Rudy Giuliani is in some meaningful sense a Catholic, please do so. Snide remarks directed at me serve only to suggest that you are inadeqate to that task.

I write to recommend the "machinations" link provided by Carol in Comment 4. So revealing.....that it makes me reconsider whom I'd vote for in a Hillary/Rudy contest. Now THAT's a statement I NEVER thought I'd make. Do read the "machinations" link. The story is long......but the stakes are high.

It doesn't matter what sort of Catholic he is when he has "manly" moments like this, which should, and probably will, finish off his presidential aspirations. (Let us pray? Ok, I jest...)

I find the debate over the magnitude or sincerity of RG's Catholicism to be fairly fruitless and mostly not to the point. And it is not surprising that RG's enemies at The Voice would seek to make the most of his transgressions and hypocrisies. Thus more to the point would be the degree to which Rudy could or would present the semblance of virtue and dignity were he elected. My intervention was prokoved on the narrow theological point that the relative state of RG's soul must be unknown to us, and also on the point that RG has not openly avowed atheism, much to the contrary. I see no difference between Barney Frank calling my wife an anti-Semite and someone calling RG an atheist. The latter is pure venal gossip and should be avoided with respect to men and women in public life. I am hardly pledged to RG but would not have the at least temporary qualms of Gary Seaton. I should confess I am probably the only one among this small group to have been to church with Rudy recently, in a small group with no press present--making a plane wait this past Ash Wednesday in South Carolina.

My, my,Rudy isn't ahead in the polls here! After listening to many Rudy speeches over the last few months, I'd say he's a seeker and there's always hope for seekers.

I agree with Robert, Catholics do not usually respond well to invitations to bare their souls--that's what confession is for. That's why Giuliani's answer to the question about whether he is a good Catholic strikes one as a typically Catholic answer.

Pardon me for another comment. While reading Churchill on Charles I, I was struck by the thought that, while in the fine mind of Gary Seaton Rudy may be more Aaron Burr-like than the Clintons (and he may be), Tom Jefferson was fairly demonstrably the first and maybe only atheist President we ever had (though he put on a fine show and there are those for whom epicurean "deism" is theism). Makes one yearn for a more politically astute Hamilton fit for the 21st Century.

From what I understand Giuliani was seriously considering entering the priesthood when he was younger. He strikes me as the type of Catholic who is not easily given over to blind faith, but views the Church as a good institution which should be given the benefit of the doubt (even though he himself may not agree with it 100%).

Andrew, this seems a reasonably good guess about Giuliani. Current religious belief or practice must be weighed against a person's religious and cultural influences, especially early ones. The fair-minded, intelligent observer wants to know where Rudy is now, but equally wants to know where he came from. Unless there is a powerful and decisive break from one's early influences, they continue to matter greatly. Personally not the most moral guy, he made New York a more tolerable place for moral people -- and was morally motivated to do so.

Andrew and David: What strikes me about Giuliani is that he *is* "easily given in to blind faith".....blind faith in his passions. Like Bill Clinton, in important ways Rudy has never grown up. And like Bill Clinton, Rudy has had no compunction in using his considerable skills and connections to indulge his passions, regardless of the effect on those to whom he had made solemn commitments.

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