The day President John F. Kennedy was murdered, a Divine Word seminarian walked up the hill to our family’s apartment in Rome to tell my wife Sally and me the terrible news. Seeking wisdom, I wrote Dorothy Day, who had stayed with us the previous spring on a pilgrimage to Rome to thank Pope John XXIII for “Pacem in Terris” (1963), his landmark encyclical on global peace and human rights.
Dorothy wrote back saying I should pay attention to Kennedy’s life by reading a profile on him she recommended. She said that in a context of continuing violence, she would pray to John F. Kennedy (her emphasis). And she encouraged reflection on St. Paul’s words: “For those who love God, all things work together unto good” (Rm 8:28).
In November 1963 I was in my first full year in Rome lobbying bishops at the Second Vatican Council to condemn total war and support conscientious objection. Inspired by Pope John’s plea for mutual trust between cold war rivals, I had written in The Catholic Worker newspaper that Kennedy should have resolved the Cuban missile crisis by a (politically unthinkable) exchange of missile bases with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet premier.
Read more via A President for Peace | America Magazine.
- JFK: 5 Speeches that Changed History (allspeeches.com)
- Tom Hayden Recalls Meeting With JFK As A Student Leader, Proposing Peace Corps (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)