Time's Amy Sullivan Plays Up Teddy's Catholicism, Utterly Ignores His 100-Percent Record on Abortion, Gays

August 28th, 2009 8:15 AM

Time’s Amy Sullivan seems to have a special assignment to try and play up the religiosity of liberal Democrats despite their libertine policy stands, from Barack Obama to Ted Kennedy. On Thursday, Sullivan underlined "Ted Kennedy’s Quiet Catholic Faith." How does that match with his ultraliberal political record on abortion and homosexuality, his perfect 100-percent scores with NARAL or the Human Rights Campaign? Sullivan simply ignores that obvious problem.

(HRC’s YouTube channel proudly shows Kennedy suggesting Jesse Helms might be in Hell at a March 2008 dinner. So much for Christian charity.)

Kennedy "fully embraced" the Catholic Church, Sullivan claimed:

Kennedy only fully embraced Catholicism later in life, particularly after marrying his second wife. Vicki Kennedy was one of a handful of prominent Catholic Democrats who strongly urged John Kerry to defend questions about his faith during the 2004 presidential campaign, and she served as a surrogate for the Obama campaign in 2008 in heavily Catholic areas.

Sullivan played up Kennedy’s life of prayer and Mass attendance, and that is certainly important, but it doesn't define a "full embrace." (A politically conservative Catholic who publicly opposed abortion and homosexuality, but didn’t pray or attend Mass wouldn’t be "fully embracing" Catholicism, either.) The closest Sullivan came to Kennedy's complete rejection of Catholic teaching on sexuality came next:

The now retired Monsignor Thomas Duffy remembers the Senator and his wife becoming regular fixtures at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington's Chevy Chase neighborhood. "He and Vicki used to come to Mass rather regularly when they were in town," says Duffy, noting that her children also went to confession and attended religion classes. "We sometimes didn't agree on certain issues, but we would always chat."

Those "certain issues" are rather central to Catholics, especially abortion, leaving Sullivan with an article that reads like "Ted Kennedy's Quiet Life of Meat-Eating Vegetarianism." But she's insistent on revealing Kennedy's "deep faith" in God and his church:  

But while they were famously Catholic, the hard-living Kennedys weren't known for being famously devout. So it might come as a surprise that faith played a deep and important role for many of them, including Ted Kennedy. The Rev. Patrick Tarrant, who was at the Senator's bedside the night he died, told ABC News that Kennedy was "a man of quiet prayer." Said the priest: "The whole world knows a certain part of his life very well, but I think there's another part of his life that very few people know, and that is his deep faith."

Strangers can hardly judge Kennedy's prayer life or discussions with clergy. But if a politician's public speeches and stands obviously contradict church teaching, then it's hard to push him or her as a "devout Catholic." In political terms, if a politician claimed to be a "devout liberal" in their personal life, but voted with liberals only half the time, the liberals would choke on the "devout liberal" line and protest it wasn't accurate. Even Amy Sullivan would probably avoid her usually ridiculous labeling in that case.