Archbishop Chaput's most recent speech on the role of Catholic faith in American public life traces the unhealthy division between a politician's private moral beliefs and their public voting records to the speech President Kennedy made about his own Catholic faith during his run for the presidency.
In erroneously viewing the history of our republic as purely secular, and reassuring the public that if elected he would not be a Catholic president, (or perhaps even as a president who was truly Catholic,) Kennedy established the principle that politicians should divorce their private moral and religious beliefs from their public advocacy.
The Archbishop calls Kennedy's landmark speech "sincere, compelling, articulate – and wrong. Not wrong about the patriotism of Catholics, but wrong about American history and very wrong about the role of religious faith in our nation’s ."
In this far reaching and thoughtful speech, Chaput emphasizes the importance of Catholic witness in public life decrying ecumenism based on polite behavior instead of truth as empty, and a lie.
Look at the short list of issues the Archbishop identified that confront us, and notice how many depend precisely on our beliefs as Catholics:
abortion; immigration; our obligations to the poor, the elderly and the disabled; questions of war and peace; our national confusion about sexual identity and human nature, and the attacks on marriage and family life that flow from this confusion; the growing disconnection of our science and technology from real moral reflection; the erosion of freedom of conscience in our national health-care debates; the content and quality of the schools that form our children.
Read the entire text of the Archbishop's speech on their diocese's webpage by following the link at the top of this post.