Kerry Kennedy Discusses 'Being Catholic Now'

News Story: March 1, 2009

Kerry Kennedy

What do Bill Maher and Bill O’Reilly have in common? How about Frank McCourt and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick? The short answer might be “not much,” but a more nuanced understanding would recognize their common indebtedness to the Roman Catholic faith that nurtured and shaped them.

Kerry Kennedy has gathered the reflections of such prominent Americans, who share their experience of Being Catholic Now. It is the name of her New York Times best-seller, and the subject of a public lecture at Sacred Heart University on March 26. She drew a capacity crowd to University Commons, and following questions from the floor, dozens of people lined up to meet the author and have her sign copies of the book.


Sophomore Sam Dowd asked Kerry Kennedy a question about "Being Catholic Now".

Kennedy explained that she deliberately chose as wide a cross-section as possible to share their experiences – happy and sad – of being Catholic. “There are whites, Hispanics, and African-Americans,” she pointed out. “Men and women. Very conservative and very liberal. They range in age from 19 to 86.” They also run the gamut from committed believers to those, like Maher and McCourt, who may think of themselves as “recovering Catholics.”

One of Ethel and the late Senator Robert Kennedy’s 11 children, she noted that every facet of her life growing up was shaped by her family and her faith. They dedicated each day to God and gave thanks before and after meals. They prayed to the saints: “St. Jude for lost causes, St. Anthony for lost items, and St. Christopher for safe journeys. We prayed when we were happy, sad, mourning, angry, scared or grateful,” she recalled, adding that in later years, their house was filled with nuns and priests who were on the cutting edge of Catholic social teaching and helping to remake the world. In later years, however, she felt some ambivalence about the faith of her fathers, and this book was an effort to share that journey with others.

Kennedy found that every contributor to the book had disagreements with the Church. She noted Pope Benedict’s analysis that the search for truth is central to the Catholic faith. “That means questioning the status quo. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong, just that we arrive at the truth through this process.”

Kennedy is the founder of “Speak Truth to Power,” a dynamic multimedia program that came to Sacred Heart University last year. The play of the same name, which highlights the struggles of human rights advocates worldwide, was performed at SHU by an all-star cast that featured actor Martin Sheen, who is also a contributor to Being Catholic Now. She will be honored on Wednesday, April 22, at the University’s 20th annual Discovery Awards and Scholarship Dinner at the Hyatt Regency in Old Greenwich for her leadership in promoting international human rights.