Because She’s a Kennedy

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend—yes, one of the Kennedys—recently wrote an inspired piece of moral theology in The Atlantic. And we should all take note.

Fresh off a rally with New Ways Ministry, the Maryland-based group of Catholics who promote a “gay positive” view, Townsend felt moved to weigh in on the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

And her turn at moral theology does not disappoint. She is a Kennedy, after all.

Her argument is a heavily nuanced piece of apologetics:

Catholic teaching is responsible for the murder of a gay man in Uganda. We know this because his friend was honored by her father’s foundation (her father was also a Kennedy!).

If it weren’t for pernicious American missionaries, the Ugandans would live in a state of perpetual gay bliss. Ms. Townsend, unfortunately, doesn’t explain exactly what point of Catholic doctrine caused the American Evangelical missionaries to poison the minds of Ugandans in order to kill the man. I wonder if it was CCC 2358.

In her piece, Townsend continues: how could the Church support that? It goes against the Church’s own age-old tradition. Heck, “What other institution separates men and women and encourages them to live together in monasteries and convents where they can develop deep relationships with those who share their kind of love?”

Can you imagine? How can an institution that promotes monks hate gays? Monks live together. There are no women around. They cultivate relationships. And they “share their kind of love.” They’re practically gay.

Townsend goes on, “If we wish to change the Church”—and by golly we do—“we must first convey our views in language, images, and theology that reach people where they are. And secondly, we should make it clear that disagreement with the hierarchy is a critical part of our history.”

Good points. Let’s parse this out….You know what, never mind. Townsend doesn’t really elaborate on this. BUT SHE DOES SAY, “Polls find that 85 percent say that they believe in God and 50 percent claim that they go to church every Sunday. The fact that only 25 percent do just goes to show that you can’t trust everybody’s self-reporting.”

Don’t worry though, you can trust Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s self-reporting and her moral theology, she’s a Kennedy, and her dad’s foundation gave an award to a Ugandan gay rights activist. Clearly, she knows her stuff.

Speaking of Kennedys and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend being one (her dad was Robert F. Kennedy) this should drive the nail right straight through the coffin of gay-hating Catholics: “When my father visited South Africa in 1966, he spoke with students in Cape Town about apartheid. They defended the abhorrent practice by pointing to Biblical passages that suggested that discrimination was fine. In an effort to reach them, my father asked, ‘Suppose you die, and you go up to heaven, and you enter the pearly gates, and suppose, just suppose when you get there, you find that God is black.’ Today we can ask, ‘Suppose God is gay.’”

Even worse, suppose God is a monk?

“My father grasped, as did John Kennedy and Martin Luther King, that in America the leader who wishes to enlarge freedom’s sphere must appeal to an audience’s religious beliefs as well as to their understanding of American liberty.” My favorite part about King’s I Have a Dream speech is where he extols the fundamental human right to believe that God is gay.

So far Townsend has, to my mind at least, presented a pretty iron clad argument for Church condoning homosexuality (we have monks!), but she goes the extra mile (she is a Kennedy), bringing in Biblical support for her argument.

“A few years ago, I read the Bible from Genesis to Revelations [sic], and to me the biggest revelation [exegesis and wordplay!] was how misogynistic it was.” You know what, you guys? I just looked, and I think she might be right! No wonder the Church used to not let people read the Bible. To wit:

“My mother’s generation was prohibited from reading the Bible, and when I told my grandmother that my father used to read the Bible to us, she was shocked, ‘Catholics don’t read the Bible,’ she said. The Church figured that people could take passages out of context and come to unwarranted conclusions. This changed after Vatican II and now Catholic parishes offer Bible study classes.” This is history, folks. Look it up.

Townsend just thanks possibly gay God that the abolitionists and suffragettes ignored all the misogynist parts of the Bible in order focus on the part that says we are “born to be free.” I’m just thankful they found that part amidst the overwhelming misogyny and gay hating. Selectively quoting Scripture is tricky.

Townsend, however, is intellectually honest enough not to give the feminists a free ride. They weren’t always perfect, probably because in the 1970s some of them grew out of the non-religious part of the civil rights movement, like the Black Panthers, who were “uncomfortable with religion.”

“Happily, that has now changed. Women have entered schools of theology and can now show that Jesus was one of the first great feminists. Mary Magdalene is no longer thought of as a prostitute but as the ‘apostle to the apostles.’”

It’s good that women are finally allowed to enter those big forbidding schools of theology and wrest from the clutches of the misogynist priests (not the monks, though, they’re charming and their habits are so fabulous!) those long-secret passages of theology—like John 20:16 and Mark 16:9—that showed Mary Magdalene wasn’t just some filthy whore.

[NOTE: Peter Abelard and many others referred to Mary Magdalene as the “apostle to the apostles” as early as 1132. I can only assume that Abelard was really a female theologian.]

Townsend, so obviously making great strides with her expert interpretation of the Bible, decides to linger there. Did you know, as Townsend does, that the modern English  “word ‘homosexual’ didn’t even exist until the 19th century”? Just more factual evidence that the Bible couldn’t have possibly outlawed homosexuality.

And yet, somehow, as Townsend says, there are “people [who] continue to read scripture simply to sustain their preexisting prejudice against homosexuality and homosexuals.” But what would they say about the following passages?

According to Townsend, “King David talks about sleeping with his friend Nathan as ‘better than sleeping with a woman.’” It’s actually Jonathan, I think. And, I think, the line is actually Jonathan’s love for David “was more wonderful, passing the love of a woman,” but I’ll defer to Townsend on this one…she read the whole Bible. Can you believe that? The whole thing!

Anyway, those guys were totally gay. Because as we all know, two men can’t love each other without being totally gay.

Perhaps more importantly, to Townsend, is what the Bible doesn’t say. “The Ten Commandments don’t mention homosexuality. Nor does Jesus. In fact, our Lord teaches us that love of God and love of our fellow human being are the two most important commandments. He doesn’t exclude the love that one man can have for another, or one woman for another.”

Score one for the gays. Also, take note goat lovers, nowhere in the Ten Commandments does it say bestiality is wrong.

So, now that we have this wealth of evidence, what gives, Catholic Church? Why does the hierarchy hate the gays?

But there’s good news! As Townsend notes, “The 2000-year-old passages favored by Church authorities don’t hold up as being anti-gay.” While the passages that don’t mention anything about gays stand up stronger than ever as the positive confirmation that Jesus thought homosexuality was way cool .

Now, where do we go from here? Don’t give up hope. As Townsend says, “Contrary to conservative propaganda” the Church can change (see the Article 3, Section 1, 2033 and following for a great example of said “propaganda”). And she offers a shining example: “Sex between husband and a wife is no longer just for procreation but has value in itself.”

Remember when the Church taught that sex was just for procreation and that it had no other value? And that if you enjoyed it you had to go to confession? Man, those were dark days. Thankfully, the Church says we can enjoy sex now. Thanks, Pope!

So it can be done.

“At this time, when the hierarchy does not want to recognize that we are all made in the image and likeness of God, and that the one of the two most critical commandments is to love one another, it is critical to assert that God loves the LGBT community equally.”

You hear that, hierarchy? Kathleen Kennedy Townsend asserts that possibly gay God loves the LGBT community equally. Which, ergo, means that homosexuality is good and right and just.

I’d trust her on this one, she’s read the whole Bible and she’s a Kennedy.


After a brief career restoring timber-framed barns, Christian Tappe worked as an editor for Regnery and ISI Books. He is currently Editor of Saint Benedict Press/TAN Books in Charlotte, NC.

  • Joanne S.

    Bill Maher could read this and find out what is really funny.

    Unfortunately, it’s very sad to discover that Kathleen and so many of the other Kennedy kids had such horrible catechesis. Or maybe they simply hate a church that doesn’t condone the moral behavior that so many of them are known for.

    • bobbylang

       Right On!! Joanne!
              I wonder if Kathleen “K” even has a brain?  Why do these deluded liberals so confuse “LOVE” with “SEX”  as though they are synonymous!
              While I loved my brothers, and they me, we surely had our fights!!
              I loved my Mom!  I loved my dad – sometimes! I loved my Uncle Joe, and all my fantastic aunts!!  I loved my God-Mother (aunt) best!
             What’s “SEX” go to do with it!!

  • dalemoleary

    Until we spread the fact that persons with same-sex attraction aren’t born that way, we will continue to be subjected to nonsense ‘theology’. Same-sex attraction is a psychological developmental disorder. No one is born that way

    • Alecto

      Here, here.  Add to that a series of legal decisions and legislation based on the unproved and false notion that individuals are born “gay”.  That any group can supercede our constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion with “gay rights” is an injustice and recipe for disaster. 

      • Tony

        Yes, absolutely.  I am now thinking of the same-sex attracted men I’ve known best.

        None of them had a good relationship with his father.  Heck, none of them even had a half-decent relationship with his father.  Father 1 shot himself in the head when the kid was 10, and Mom married a man whom the kid loathed.  Father 2 did nothing but kvetch about the kid being fat and lazy.  Father 3 was a gross buffoon who got very sick early in the kid’s life and died when he was 14.  Father 4 farmed the kid to live with his aunt and his girl cousins two thousand miles away, when the kid was in seventh grade.  Not one of these four kids had the fail-safe of being particularly good at athletics.  Two of them were notably popular as teenagers, but as boys who liked to hang around with the girls, because they couldn’t connect with the boys.  All of them, deep down, wanted to be boys just like the other boys, but nobody was around to help them out.  Nobody even was aware that they needed that help.

    • hombre111

      “No one is born that way.”   Science seems to be proving otherwise.   And I have gay friends from hetero families who tell me they were attracted to members of their own sex for as long as they can remember.

      • dalemoleary

        There is no scientific replicated evidence for a biological cause for same-sex attraction. However, neither is it an adult choice. Rather it is a psychological developmental disorder beginning in early childhood. In many cases it begins in the first year of life as an attachment disorder. As a very young child the person with SSA feels different from his or her same-sex parent or peers. This feeling different — this primal alienation — leads to an desire for love and acceptance by people of the same sex. The child tries to make up for what has been missed. Only later is this intense need perceived as sexual. Therapy for SSA consists in helping the person recognize the roots of his attraction and to meet his legitimate need for same-sex friendship. Think about it, do persons with other sex attractions have sexual attractions “for as long as they can remember.” Don’t they rather experience love for parents, family and friends. Only later does sexual attraction specifically to the other sex as a distinct feeling appear. 
        Dale O’Leary, author One Man, One Woman

        • hombre111

          Thanks for the sensible reply.  But research does show that homosexuals have many characteristics in common with a normal female, and lesbians have brain characteristics in common with a normal male.  And from those brains comes behavior.   Wheter or not these brain changes were nurture or nature, how do you deal with a different brain? 

          But you might want to continue your research by talking, say, to Dr. David Kundtz, author of  “Ministering to God’s Queer Folk.”  He is a decent, reasonable gay man and you could discuss theory together.   You could email him at

  • Jpct50

    Oh dear Lord, how long must we be afflicted with the Kennedy’s?

  • pamelanak

    Will this scourge on the land never end? Ugh. If these people are the result of  “U” catechesis, one can only be more thankful for having been given the common garden variety.

  • When I read something like this, I think, about our republic, “Stick a fork in it, it’s done.”  The problem with this woman isn’t just that her theology is a train wreck.  It’s that her speech and thought are submerged beneath coherent language itself.  It’s less that her thinking is bad than that bad habits of reading (!) and speaking have crippled her very ability to think coherently about any subject at all.  If that’s what we have for thinking — from either party — then we’re done for.

    • She is no doubt an avid texter.

    • Therese

      That the Kennedy women are so messed up mentally comes from having watched so many of the Kennedy men be so totally unfaithful to their wives. Most of them had no morals, at least not on sexual issues.

  • Catlaughter

    Amazing how blind people can be. I read the WHOLE bible too and didn’t see what she saw! I saw God’s love, truth and the ordinances for a good life. That is why I know the Catholic Church is the true Church, teaching the truth in love and grace. I feel sorry for those that must denegrate and demean others to make their point. And, I also pray for them.

  • Reasonable_Opinion

    This would be (much more) hilarious fun…if not for the underlying truth. Thank you Christian!

  • Brannigan

    I always assumed God didn’t have a race OR a sexual preference. Hmm, makes ya think. What if God was one of us? 
    What did she mean by the history of disagreements with the Catholic hierarchy? . . . Protestants?

  • Tiredofthechickenlittles

    I am so glad that we have articles like these to make us feel better about our smugness and judgemental attitudes. After all, we are Christians!  Who better to judge than us?! 

    Go read the latest cover story on Newsweek  about Christianity in Crisis from Andrew Sullivan.  He is a much greater representative of Christianity than most of the pious crap I find here. 

    •  Yeah, I read the article. It’s nonsense.

      • Tiredofthechickenlittles

        Nice.  There are none so blind…

      • Sheffield Steel

        Christian:  If Ms. Kennedy spent an honest day cutting a half-shouldered tenon joint on an 8″x8″x14′ green oak timber, she MIGHT have an insight worth hearing.  She spouts the nonsense she does because she’s almost totally disconnected from the real….and protected from the consequences of her frivolity. Would someone please send her a copy of Matt Crawford’s book, “Shop Class as Soul Craft”?  Please??  -Former timber framer     

        •  Actually, everyone should read that book!

      • CAndiron

         There is no cure for libtardedness. I used to think they were dishonest. Now I think they are merely too stupid to make an actual counterargument.

    • Tony

      Didn’t you notice that the Kennedy was heaping contempt upon Church teachings, upon people who accept those teachings, and upon the clergy in general?  And didn’t you notice that you yourself are engaging in name-calling, even in the title you employ?  You don’t address a single one of the issues; all you do is call names, use a nice vulgarity, and set yourself up as wiser than everybody else.  Don’t you see that?

      • Tiredofthechickenlittles

        I dont know who is served by this article.  My posts serve as a foil to the trite smugness that so many on this extreme fringe demonstrate. Am I smug sometimes? You bet.  I can admit it.  Do I call names? Sure.  Jesus called those who were self righteous whitewashed tombs.   I am basically trying to serve as a small prophetic voice in this desert called Criss Magazine 

        Btw..your post is just like mine.

        • tiredofhypocriticalidiots

          When confronted with the inaccuracies that Kennedy asserted, you don’t address them all. You just claim to be a prophet. Again, why should anyone listen to you? Why listen to someone who won’t take correction or even acknowledge there is a basis for disagreement? Is your desert any better? I don’t get it.

          But you do acknowledge you can be smug, and we all can, and that’s a step forward. Let me offer you an analogy. Let’s say a policeman apprehends a mugger. Let’s say the mugger accuses the policeman of enjoying bullying people and that therefore the policeman should let the mugger be free to continue.

          I think we’d both agree it’s reasonable for the policeman to respond, “I may have bad motivations, in fact I probably do. But I still must do what’s right. I can’t let your hypothetical speculations about my psychology bully me into doing the wrong thing.”

          IOW, you and conservatives all suffer from bad motivations, but you can’t excuse someones (in this case Kennedy’s) distortions and errors by mounting an ad hominem against the person pointing this out. You need to show why you think you are right, otherwise no one is obligated to listen to you or indeed ought to listen to you. Just be consistent, is a reasonable request, no?

          • Tiredofthechickenlittles

            I replied above. I do appreciate your engagement. 

        • Mary Therese

          Criss Magazine sounds great. Where can I get a copy?

    • CAndiron

       I strongly disagree. It won’t make Kathy or you feel better about your smugness and judgmental attitudes.

      This article corrects errors. You meet that with speculation about the psychology of the author of it, which could just as well be applied to you and Kathy. Don’t you think your case would be more convicing if you stuck to the facts? Or maybe you don’t have a case and must resort to such tactics? Tryin’ to help you out here…

      • Tiredofthechickenlittles

        I hear you.  And no, it would not make my case any better. I tried for years with ideas and arguments. I am never heard.

         I know I am a hypocrite and know I am a sinner. 

        Quite often, and mean VERY often, the self righteous tone of the articles on this site cries out to be addressed. I happily admit that my ranting here probably serves that impulse in me more than the tiny population that reads this site.  Regardless, I felt it needed to be said.  Still, it is good to have a voice of dissent. It is good that Jesus at times ranted against the Pharisees.

        Since you want some refutation and articulated ideas, I’ll give it another go for ya:

        The doctrine of our Church develops.  It does.  Our idea of a consubstantial-with-the-Father Jesus was not always popular and it took 5-6 councils to get Nestorianism, Docetism, Arianism etc. sorted out so we could safely say who and what Jesus is.  Chaldedon, Constantinople, mostly Nicea helped in that regard. 

        Our definitive UNDERSTANDING of WHO JESUS IS developed. Over time. DEVELOPED.  Aided by the Holy Spirit, we, the Church, now have a fuller, deeper understanding of Jesus. 

        I state all this to demonstrate that doctrine develops.  It does.

        Now, what does the Bible state about slavery?  If you read Paul, he says slaves should obey their masters.  And masters should be kind to their slaves.  Elsewhere it does allow for the freeing of slaves after some years, but in Exodus 21:21 it says we can beat our slaves within an inch of their lives, and if they dont die, its fine.  They are our property.

        Well, obviously the Church has developed its doctrine on this point. Slavery is outrightly forbidden in our Catechism.  And yet, we have a scriptural disconnect between what is in the Bible and what the Church teaches now.

        It actually took humanity quite a while to put slavery in the BAD column of human activity, and our Church’s first real refutation of the slaving practice is nto on the books until 1860.  AD.  1860 AD.

        So, what does this all have to do with Homosexuality and Mrs. Kennedy Townsend?

        I submit that the doctrines concerning human sexuality are nascent; fledgling; barely out of the proverbial chute.  I submit that our Church will develop better, deeper, more rich and complex understandings of human sexuality in years to come, and homosexuality will not be this huge taboo that so many extreme fringe gatekeepers need to eradicate.

        The problem, of course, is simply opening our minds to the POSSIBILITY that there could be more to say…more complexity to discover.  If we can be young inour understandign about what foods are clean or unclean; uninformed about bloodborne pathogens and thus needing to make all blood unclean; or even open to the reality that Mary really did carry the Creator of the Universe withing her, and not just the human Jesus (as Nestorius asserted), and we can see our doctrine develop…well….

        All I can say is:  the homosexuals I know, the ones who love well and try to live love…they are the ones Jesus would go to.  And he would have a hard time with self congratulating column writers who dismiss the obvious love so needed to people…..Even Kennedys.

        HappY?  (It wont make a dent…Jeremiah and Isaiah, Ezekiel…they all had the same problems.) 

        • Sorry, but it doesn’t work.  The whole thrust of both Testaments is against slavery.  The institution, in those old days, was closer to what we would call indentured servitude.  Recall that there was no welfare state.  If a man had nothing, not even a roof over his head, he could offer himself as a servant — a slave; but slavery was not racially based, it was not an industry, and, as I said, the angle points against it.  There is not a shred of teaching in the Fathers that justifies slavery as an institution.

          Doctrine does develop, but it does not morph into its opposite.  We can come to see that a certain practice which God once tolerated (because of the hardness of our hearts) is no longer to be tolerated.  Jesus did not ever ease the moral law; he exalted it, even while he showed us how to fulfill the meaning of the ceremonies of ancient Judaism.  So he does not say, “You really needn’t take adultery seriously,” but says, “Any man who lusts after a woman in his heart has committed adultery with her,” and so forth.  The Christian development of doctrine is not from an exalted moral law towards indifference, but towards higher and higher standards of behavior.  What you are suggesting here is that, presto, fornication can suddenly be all right — just as it was winked at (for men at least) in the ancient world.  I say “fornication” because there is no way, scripturally, biologically, or morally, you can justify the unnatural sexual practices that characterize that syndrome, without also justifying practices that are, though circumstantially wrong, quite natural.  You can’t cheer on Oscar and Felix, and then say that Mary and John have to wait until marriage.  And I’m afraid that in this regard the teaching of the church HAS BEEN developing — see John Paul’s Theology of the Body.  It just hasn’t developed in the direction you like.

          I’ll venture to say that I’m not arguing here with the married parent of a young child.

    • tiredofhypocriticalidiots

      So a hypocritical, self serving conspiracy nut like Sullivan is a “greater” representative than those who actually take Biblical ethics seriously?

      I notice you seem to think that anything that contradicts your self serving narcissism is “pious crap”, but don’t you think other people, especially those who believe the Bible, might find that a bit unconvincing? Why should anyone value your self indulgent hypocrisy over revelation from God?

    • Bob

      Newsweek is a dieing magazine, deep in debt. Articles like Sullivan’s are a pathetic attempt during Holy Week to sell magazines, that’s all.

    • MarkRutledge

      Speaking of smugness and judgemental attitudes . . .

  • And then there is the irony of her invoking a situation in Uganda, while forgetting about Charles Lwanda and his companions who were murdered by the brutal king Mwanga for, among other things, protecting the pages in his court from his homosexual perversions.  The stories of their courage and trust in Divine Providence, as well as their belief in holiness and purity should be required reading for Ms. Townsend.

    As for the article, it is obviously sarcasm inthe tradition of Swift and Mencken.  After all the only reason that she should be given space in The Atlantic is because she is  Kennedy AND she is attacking the Church. What would have been NEWS is to find a leading liberal defending the Church and the 2000 years of Apostolic tradition.

    She and those who buy into her inept and corrosive view of ethics are in need of our prayers.

  • Bathmaster7

    The shame is so many will agree with her ??? This is how they do it, they play with the words just like our constituion and then they build a following. We are in trouble in this country and we had better wake up.

  • Ruthmcc

    Great, great article!  I see that the author, Christian, was a restorer of barns.  I wish he could come to repair my falling-apart barn, giving him more time to think of funny stories about the Progressive Catholics.  This isn’t the first time I’ve heard pronouncements from Kathleen Townsend Kennedy on how the Church could be better if we only listened to her.  I was alternately laughing and squirming as I read.  No sense getting angry at Catholics like this.  A chuckle is more in order.

  • SK

    She is proof of why we all desperately need the Catholic Church. She just happens to think the Catholic Church desperately needs her. But maybe, just maybe, if she goes to Heaven, maybe she could find that God is Catholic.

  • Vishal Mehra

    If same-sex attraction is caused by lack of proper father-son relation, then there is no necessary upper limit to the fraction of same-sex attracted males.

    Even 100% of all males could be same-sex attracted. 

  • Jmjriz

    “Bad logic leads to bad philosophy which leads to bad theology.”

     Ms. Kennedy fails the logic test and the rest is predictable.  But in a world where the norm is the “dictatorship of relativism” we must appreciate how her message resonates with the masses. The world is topsy-turvy and bad is now good. Ah, heck, “whatevvvvvver!”

    … a late 60’s cigarette ad, which if my memory serves me correctly might have been destined as the first with marijuana as a key ingredient: 

    “You’ve  come a long way baby, to get where you got to today. You got your own cigarette now baby, you’ve come a long, long way.”

    The illogical woman’s liberation movement has surely “come a long, long way.”

    We in America are trying to make sense with minds that are poisoned from childhood.

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  • Peadar Ban

    OK, that’s it.  No more Atlantic for me.  It joins MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC,CBS and ABC and a few others.  A waste of trees.

    • Tiredofthechickenlittles

      And the cocoon grows tighter.  You go, boy.

      • MarkRutledge

        Sources of information available today are seeminly endless.  Eliminating those void of intellectual vigor and/or propaganda organs yields a better understanding of the world.

  • Jim

    Yes but Mr. Christian Tappe missed the point! Ms. Kennedy is wrong.

    “Her argument is a heavily nuanced piece of apologetics”.
    Yes is must be heavily nuanced because she is wrong.

  • Ed Micca

    Excellent, clear, cogent.

  • Adam__Baum

    I am just so sick of the Kennedys, but this one especially. 

    Everytime another of this brood is elected, I feel the ground underneath shutter as those that did deeds great and small to protect us from the abuses of hereditary monarchy roll in the their graves yelling “fools!”

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  • Clement_W

    Does being a Kennedy automatically confer sanctity?