NPR talk show host Diane Rehm devoted an hour Monday to the "future of the Catholic Church" and the current synod on the family. Her three guests were all progressives, helping her investigate how liberal the church was going to become. But it was fairly sedate until they came around to the annulment of marriages, where the church declares a marriage invalid.
Rehm and fellow public-radio host Sister Maureen Fiedler (a radical leftist) both turned to mocking Republican politicians with multiple marriages, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani. The other guests didn't play along:
DIANE REHM: And there are differences in practice when it comes to who is seeking the annulment. How about Newt Gingrich? Fill us in on what happened there, Maureen.
SISTER MAUREEN FIEDLER: Well, I don't know about Newt Gingrich, but Rudy Giuliani I do know about. He got an annulment because he had married his second cousin. And when I heard that, I said, Like he didn't know she was his second cousin when he married her? Well, yes, but...
REHM: And Newt Gingrich married for the third time within the Catholic Church, Bill?
WILLIAM MATTISON, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY: I know nothing about Newt Gingrich's marital history. And don't want to comment on Newt's annulment process.
E. J. DIONNE: I do think that there has been a discussion in the church for a long time that the politically influential may have gotten a break.
FIEDLER: Yes, exactly.
DIONNE: And it's not an ideological thing. Just -- and that that's a problem.
FIEDLER: You can go back to the royalty of a few centuries ago who readily got annulments.
While Sister Maureen was mocking Giuliani for an annulment in 1983, neither she nor Rehm mentioned former congressman Joseph Kennedy (who you can bet was on Dionne’s mind). His wife Sheila Rauch Kennedy wrote a book in 1997 called “Shattered Faith,” “a memoir in which she portrayed her ex-husband as a hot-tempered bully who browbeat her when she refused to agree to an annulment of their marriage.” The Vatican actually reversed the annulment in 2007.
The Kennedys are NPR's kind of Catholics, so they don't come up when the subject is embarrassing Catholic politicians who can't stay married to one woman.