Catholic trivia related to JFK’s death

Re: “JFK: 50 years later” (In Focus, Nov. 17).

The photographer of Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office aboard Air Force One reminded me of an interesting bit of Catholic trivia. No Bible could be found on the plane, so a Roman missal was substituted. Yes. Johnson was the only president in our nation’s history to be sworn in using a Catholic Roman missal. I heard this on “Jeopardy!” and researched it. It’s true.

Thomas Hogan, Long Beach, Calif.

Character matters

Re: “JFK: 50 years later” (In Focus, Nov. 17).

I was a junior at a Catholic college when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I expressed my grief by writing for our campus paper one of those effusive tributes about “two Johns” (Kennedy and Pope John XXIII) that Russell Shaw spoke of in his assessment of the Kennedy presidency.

Fifty years later, I direct a state university-based character education center that helps schools and families foster good character in youth. Now I pray for Kennedy’s soul and view him as an icon of the kind of character we should not want our youths to emulate.

And so it’s more than a little troubling that in a Gallup poll this November, three out of four Americans ranked JFK as “the greatest president of modern times,” with the highest level of admiration coming from the youngest age group (18 to 29).

Kennedy’s incessant womanizing, inherited from his father and shared by his brothers, is by now well known. Perhaps less well known is the evidence, detailed in “The Dark Side of Camelot” by the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, that JFK stole the 1960 presidential election with the help of organized crime in Illinois and at least four other states.

Many of us were taken in by Kennedy’s intelligence, wit and charisma. Many are still blinded today by the continuing Camelot mythology. But as Catholics we have a responsibility to see the truth and teach it to our young: To be a great leader, you must first be a good person. Character matters in every area of our public and personal lives.

Tom Lickona, Via email

Core questions

Re: “Catholic schools’ use of Common Core scrutinized” (News Analysis, Nov. 24).

The title itself scares me. Should schools be advancing goals rather than developing common or ordinary standards? What are the backgrounds and philosophies of those “experts” who have written the standards?

The Gates Foundation support raises a red flag since we know they are strong proponents and supporters of abortion on demand.

Will states or schools who refuse to use the standards be at a disadvantage when students are tested in the annual SATs? Will the Common Core curriculum only be used in the assessment of students’ knowledge? Once again the federal government is intervening by funding two organizations developing the associated exams.

I recall a statement made by Alan Guttmacher, Planned Parenthood official, when asked about the declining abortion rates. “We’ll get them through sex education.” Catholic officials are well advised to examine sample texts.

Jean B. Healey, Braintree, Mass.

Iraq inaccuracies

Re: “The price and a prayer” (Faith, Nov. 10).

Father Eric Albertson’s article on Veterans Day, while heartfelt, contains inaccuracies. The article is focused on Iraqi war veterans. He writes that “freedom isn’t free” and goes on to laud U.S. soldiers for displaying “a brave willingness to pay the price to defend freedom.”

It is untrue to say that American soldiers were in Iraq to defend freedom. It is now well known that Iraq posed no threat to the United States, did not have weapons of mass destruction and had no ties to Al-Qaida. America’s unprovoked war of aggression killed millions, destroyed Iraq’s infrastructure, created a public health catastrophe and stained America’s image around the world. Further, no Catholic theologian has defended the war as just and, in fact, Blessed John Paul II explicitly stated that it was unjust. It is one thing to commend service men and women for their efforts, it is quite another to rewrite the historical record.

Geoff Gray, Ph.D., Via email

Treatment option

Re: “Couples face cross of infertility” (News Analysis, Nov. 24).

I enjoyed Emily Stimpson’s well-written story on the challenges young couples can face with infertility. She noted that 85-90 percent of infertility can be treated with drug therapy or procedures. I want to remind readers that another option in treating infertility is chiropractic.

I have been in practice for more than 25 years, and just this month the 26th child was born in my practice to parents who had struggled with infertility. Most of these parents had “tried everything else” before turning to chiropractic. Being totally natural, there is nothing wrong with Catholic couples turning to chiropractic for help in this area. And while many need to open their minds to this option, it is there for those who are open to that miracle.

Dr. Scott P. Burtis, M.S., D.C., Via email