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Rediff.com  » News » I will not be a Catholic president, says Kerry

I will not be a Catholic president, says Kerry

March 29, 2004 14:06 IST

United States Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has advised church officials against telling American politicians what to do in context to their public life, Time magazine reports in New York.

"People in Rome are becoming more and more aware that there's a problem of John Kerry and a political scandal with his apparent profession of his Catholic faith and some of stances, particular abortion," Kerry said, while responding to a statement of a Vatican official to the Time magazine.

"I don't think it complicates things at all," he said, "We have separation of church and state in this country. As John Kennedy said very clearly 'I will be a president who happens to be Catholic, not a Catholic president'."

Kerry and other Catholic politicians have long argued that their religious beliefs need not influence their actions as elected representatives. This provoked New York's Archbishop John Cardinal O'Connor in 1984 to castigate both New York Governor Mario Cuomo and Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, who are both pro-choice.

Kerry enjoys a larger share of Catholic votes in states like New Hampshire, Missouri and Tennessee than he received from the Protestants.

Already, an employee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, Ono Ekeh, said he lost his job as a result of what he had written on his Yahoo discussion-group website, 'Catholics for Kerry'.

Ekeh, 33, had criticised the bishops' recent edicts that Catholic politicians should vote according to Church teaching.

Meanwhile, in his speech in Missouri on Sunday, Kerry cited the scripture in his appeal for the worshippers saying 'what does it profit, my brother, if someone says he has faith but does not have works'.

Kerry never mentioned Bush by name but was critical of 'our present leadership'. Reacting to it, Bush's campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt was quoted as saying Kerry's comment 'was beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse and a sad exploitation of scripture for a political attack'.

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