When JFK became a presidential candidate, as a Roman Catholic in a country where Protestants viewed Catholics with a great deal of suspicion, he had to go out of his ways to make sure that voters understood that he would not be a Vatican candidate. In a stirring speech about the separation of church and state, and his Catholicism, JFK said:
contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic.An Irish-Catholic-American was elected president. And JFK happens to be the only Catholic ever to have been elected to the White House.
In that ancestral home of his--in Ireland--an "American" history is being created: The son of a Hindu immigrant is all set to be the next prime minister of Ireland. He is only 38--younger than JFK's age when he was elected president. And, oh, this young man is gay:
A gay son of an Indian immigrant is now all but certain to become the next prime minister of Ireland, a country that has rapidly been leaving its conservative Roman Catholic social traditions behind.The kind of a story that we normally associate only with the US.
Leo Varadkar, who was chosen on Friday by the Fine Gael party to be its leader, and therefore the head of the center-right governing coalition, will be the first openly gay taoiseach (as Ireland’s prime minister is called), and, at 38, the youngest.
Who were/are his parents?
Mr. Varadkar was born in Dublin in 1979, the son of an Irish Catholic nurse from County Waterford and a Hindu doctor from Mumbai, India. His parents met in England in the 1960s and lived in India for a time before moving to Ireland.How fascinating! Almost a made-for-movie story!
Growing up in a country where religious divisions have historically run deep, he attended a Catholic elementary school and a Protestant high school that followed the Church of Ireland tradition. He told The Irish Times in 2015 that he was raised Catholic but was “not a particularly religious person.”
Varadkar reminds us:
“If my election today shows anything, it is that prejudice has no hold in this Republic,” Varadkar said at Dublin’s Mansion House after the results were announced, adding: “Around the world people look to Ireland as a country where it doesn't matter where you come from, only where you want to go.”I needed such a positive news to offset the bleakness here in the land of the free.