John F. Kennedy might have been the first Catholic president, but he wasn’t the first president to deal with specific Catholic issues. You have to go all the way back to George Washington for that. Ever since Americans began electing presidents, the men who have held that office have dealt with issues specific to Catholics. Those issues have been both personal and political, cordial and stormy.
Our Sunday Visitor is publishing a great heritage series on U.S. presidents and Catholicism. To date the series has profiled George Washington, America’s first president; Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson; Reconstruction presidents Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant; and two 20th century giants, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, among others. There will be more throughout the election season.
No doubt there will plenty for future journalists to write about the Catholic connections of the future President McCain or President Obama. We’ll know which on Nov. 5.