A Kennedy Catholic university …. in Africa

A Kennedy Catholic university …. in Africa

It is indeed ironic that in the US, mentioning the name “Kennedy” at a Catholic college will (usually validly) elicit howls of protest that any Catholic institution would associate itself with a political family that has become synonymous with pro-abortion Catholic, while in the African nation of Angola, a Kennedy is lauded as the inspiration for the country’s only Catholic university.

Michael Kennedy, the late son of Sen. Robert Kennedy, was cut in the mold of most Kennedy men, seen as overgrown adolescents who as often as not treated women as playthings. Eschewing political office, he founded a non-profit that sold heating oil at discount rates to the poor. But he was also embroiled in scandal when it was revealed that he’d had an affair with his teenage babysitter. (Charges were never filed because the girl wouldn’t cooperate with police.) He died not long after those revelations in a skiing accident while playing “ski football,” a dangerous and, yes, adolescent game.

But there are those in Africa who remember him quite differently.

With contributions from Citizens Energy, Mobil, and other oil companies, Michael created the Boston-based Angola Educational Assistance Fund in 1996, and used his famous name to promote plans to make the cardinal’s vision a reality.

Michael’s effort was akin to numerous other work-intensive charitable projects created by Kennedy cousins in places around the world, help that goes well beyond just writing checks or offering one’s name to help a good cause. These little-seen but quietly ambitious charitable endeavors are the flip side of the daredevil behavior, womanizing, and addiction woes that are also a part of the family legacy.

At Catholic University last week, summer students stared intently at computers secured with funds from Michael’s organization and read books donated from Massachusetts in the library, which is no bigger than that of an average American middle school.

According to the assistance fund’s website, it’s called the Michael LeMoyne Kennedy Memorial Library, but no sign revealed the name.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
6 comments
  • Well, h*ll . . . it is Angola.

    I always thought that Eunice turned out to be the only really pro-life one because she connected so deeply to Rosemary. Just my theory.

  • Please clarify, if indeed it is possible to do so, the following comments:

    Despite having nine children, I was suprise reading how Rose Kennedy hated motherhood.

    and:

    Well, h*ll . . . it is Angola.

    I’m not so much challenging them as asking what the bleep they mean.

    I’m assuming Renee meant to write: “besides the fact that Rose Kennedy bore nine children…”

    Given that, what, (aside from the JFK quote in Wikipedia which, if true, sorta paints the former president as not the ideal child—“My mother is a nothing”???—rather than putting the onus on the mother) gives anyone the impression that Mrs. Kennedy “hated motherhood?”

    And Meg’s comment leaves me totally perplexed. What does the fact that is “is Angola” have to do with…well, anything?

  • Angola has had one of the strangest post-colonial histories of all African countries. Independence was not reached until 1975 (because of reluctance on the part of the Portuguese and ambivalence on the part of most Angolans), and immediately afterwards a three-way civil war broke out. This quickly narrowed down to 2 factions – the Soviet- and Cuban-sponsored MLNA (I think that’s the right acronym) and the more-or-less Western-supported UNITA. These two factions duked it out for almost 30 years (with a couple of tries at elected gov’ts) until UNITA’s head, Jonas Savimbi, was killed a few years ago. UNITA gave up its arms and there are supposed to be elections this year – we’ll see. In the meantime, the ex-commies stay in charge (check out their flag, you can find it on Wikipedia – a machete and a machine gear crossed to make the “hammer and sickle”. Niiiiiiice.) It’s the closest thing we have to the old Sandinista Nicaragua today. SOOOOOoooooo, I think it’s just perfect that such a nice Catholic boy helped fund the Catholic university in such a nice lefty country. A perfect place for a guilt-ridden Kennedy to give money. He sure got a nice posthumous write-up in the Globe for it! 

    I suppose my statement is in the same spirit that Queen Mary, at the time of the Abdication Crisis, said, “Really! This [England] could be Romania!” Or something like that.

  • “Rose Kennedy had an ambivalent relationship with her children.”

    If this is true, and I’m not doubting that it is, it probably stemmed from what I’ve heard was a less-than-desirable marriage to her kids’ dad.

    That was unbelievable about Michael and the babysitter, absolutely unbelievable.

  • SOOOOOoooooo, I think it’s just perfect that such a nice Catholic boy helped fund the Catholic university in such a nice lefty country. A perfect place for a guilt-ridden Kennedy to give money. He sure got a nice posthumous write-up in the Globe for it!

    I’m still not clear on your position. Do you object to the funding of a Catholic university in Angola or do you object to a Kennedy funding a Catholic university in Angola?

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