Jackie Kennedy's Letters to Dublin Priest to be Sold at Auction

Is is just me, or does anyone else find the release of private letters from Jackie Kennedy to Father Joseph Leonard, a Vincentian priest from Dublin, particularly distasteful?

Are there no sacred boundaries we won't cross for the voyeuristic pleasure of the unrelenting public?

The letters span fourteen years (from 1950 to 1964), in which she reveals personal thoughts and feelings on her engagement to New York stockbroker John Husted, which she broke off shortly before the wedding, her subsequent marriage to President John F. Kennedy, and her personal struggle with her faith following his assassination in 1963.

It seems to me that if Jackie Kennedy wanted those letters to be put out there for public consumption, she would have done so, or perhaps written an autobiography.

I think it an unforgivable invasion of privacy when letters written in confidence to a priest, are put on public display.

What I would like to know is who is responsible for this. Certainly not her family, I hope.

Views: 681

Tags: Dublin, Faith, Ireland, JFK, Kennedy, New York, United States

Comment by Gerry Regan on May 13, 2014 at 10:40am

I'm not troubled by this, since all the principals are deceased, and it sheds light on the life and times and mindset of one public figure and one quasi-public figure. It does raise an important and interesting question though, that of privacy and family history.

Comment by Maryann Tracy on May 13, 2014 at 1:09pm

l realize that these were not conversations had in a confessional box, but I still think there would be some expectation of confidentiality from a priest.     

Comment by annette counihan on May 13, 2014 at 1:38pm

ditto to all...

Comment by Gerry Regan on May 13, 2014 at 2:07pm

Fair point, Maryann. Would love to get a cleric's perspective. Fathers Tom, John, Dan might you weigh in? Are we forgetting anyone?

Comment by Gerry Regan on May 13, 2014 at 2:09pm
Comment by James McNamara on May 13, 2014 at 8:39pm

I thought it was showed how human priests can be and how humble one of such high social stature could be.  How hard Jackie tried to be the best Catholic she could be was just so charming, so sweet, so human.  To relive history and to see/read the triumphs and set-backs of a great lady; you have to remember how loved Jackie was and how we all were so drawn to this family and this woman.  It is like some long forgotten treasure has been unearthed and everyone gets to have all of it.  

Thank you Mary Ann, a great choice of topics.

Comment by Rose Maurer on May 14, 2014 at 9:44am

Jackie Kennedy had a great following in South Africa, as did John, but I'm most uncomfortable with the release of these intensely private letters, which were sent to Fr Joseph Leonard. I suspect that he too, is long deceased, and along the way, his possessions (such as they may have been) were ultimately found by someone with a decided lack of respect of the sanctity of such privacy, and possibly with an eye for a dollar or two! 

Personally I find it extremely distasteful, and a poor (if unwarranted) reflection on the Church. As I understand it, the Kennedy family as a whole, was intensely private, very well off, and I cannot see them releasing such letters into the public domain.

Personally, I find 

Comment by Maryann Tracy on May 14, 2014 at 11:33am

I couldn't agree more, Rose.

Comment by David Caldwell on May 18, 2014 at 1:14pm

Maybe it is time for this undistinguished institution to show now what it showed so little of in the past, some moral authority. Maybe it is time for this religious institution to pass on the quick buck and put God before Mammon?


Comment by Dr. Jane Lyons on May 20, 2014 at 1:55pm

The Auctioneering company involved with this sale are from the midlands of Ireland.  A place called Durrow.  They have extremely high standards as in the way they work and what they will or will not accept.  

I agree with Gerry in his initial comment on this and...in this day and age, look at the way all celebrities are targeted, analysed, 'deciphered', the Kennedy's were very lucky to live in a different age


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