A leading Irish publisher
says Pope Francis' historic visit to the United States may pave the way for the nation to elect a Catholic president — possibly Vice President Joe Biden — for the first time since John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s.
"It is truly amazing when you see the massive popularity of Catholics like JFK and Francis across all creeds and come to understand just how popular their humanitarian rather than doctrinaire message is," Niall O'Dowd, founder of Irish Central, the largest Irish news site in North America, writes in a column.
"It can surely only be a matter of time before there are many successors to JFK and Biden in the top jobs. No doubt with the number of Hispanic politicians increasing it may well be one of them and that would be very welcome.
"America needs to reflect its diversity and showcase the remarkable melting pot that created this great nation."
O'Dowd notes that six of the nine Supreme Court justices are Catholic as are 30 percent of all the members of Congress.
"A measure of how far the Catholic Church has come was contained in an observation in The New York Times on yesterday's speech to the Joint Session of Congress by Pope Francis," O'Dowd said.
The Times article, written by Peter Baker and Jim Yardley, says:
"Not that long ago, the prospect of the head of the Catholic Church addressing Congress would have been unthinkable. Catholics in politics were a source of suspicion and a subject of slander for generations. Even as John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic elected president, he felt compelled to defend his faith by asserting that he would not take orders from the pope."
Biden has been mulling a challenge to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton but has yet to make up his mind.
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