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What the controversy was with John F. Kennedy being a Catholic?

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There was an initial worry by some people that having Kennedy in the White House would give the Pope and the Catholic Church carte blanche in directing Kennedy's decisionmaking in governing the nation. However, then-Presidential candidate Kennedy repeatedly made his opinion on the subject very clear in various national interviews throughout the 1960 Presidential campaign. His interview on the subject on Face the Nation on October 30, 1960, was perhaps the most publicly promulgated. During a press conference on Sep 12, 1960 in Houston, TX, then-candidate Kennedy made the following statement: "I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant, nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials--and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all." There is also a series of additional quotes regarding President Kennedy's stance on the issue here: http://www.adherents.com/people/pk/John_F_Kennedy.html.

The fears of U.S. voters with regard to Kennedy's faith, while understandable, were unfounded in any case, as they were based on obsolete and antiquated notions of the Catholic Church's relationships with nations that proclaimed themselves to be "Catholic" by virtue of their constitutions. The Church had lost power with the secular political consolidation of the last of the Vatican city states which became the nation of Italy by end of the 19th century. By 1960, the Church had long been out of the business of politically governing any nation but Vatican City in Rome. By the beginning of the 20th century, the Church changed how it sought to influence people and nations no longer using political methods, but chiefly through appeal to reason and intellect.
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