National Journal is reporting that Sargent Shriver has died. I hope you will join me in praying for the repose of his soul. Sargent Shriver was a daily communicant.
He might best be known for marrying into the Kennedy family. His wife, Eunice, was the sister of President John F. Kennedy. (Eunice preceded her Sargent in death by two years.) Sargent Shriver became the first head of the Peace Corps. And because of his familial relationship, he became George McGovern’s running mate in 1972 (after Eagleton was dropped from the ticket and no one else wanted the job). Perhaps he’s also known for being the father of Maria Shriver, and thus father-in-law of Arnold Schwarzenegger.)
But I hope that’s not all you come to know about this man and his legacy. He and his wife founded the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics were important to Eunice, whose sister, Rosemary, was mentally handicapped. The Special Olympics has done much to educate Americans of the dignity that all persons have, regardless of any physical setback.
As the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1972, Sargent Shriver remains to this day the last pro-life candidate to run on the presidential ticket as a Democrat.
But Ted Kennedy was pro-life in 1972 as well, right? But unlike other Kennedys, Shriver remained pro-life for the rest of his life. And he wasn’t quiet about it! In 1992, Eunice and Sargent Shriver joined Gov. Bob Casey in publishing a letter in a full-page ad in the New York Times. The letter protested the Democratic Party’s embrace of abortion in their party platform. Both Eunice and Sargent Shriver were strong supporters of pro-life organizations, including National Right to Life.
Sargent Shriver was a strong defender of LBJ’s War on Poverty, which I consider to be a major disaster (despite good intentions). But while Shriver and I might disagree on the best policy to fight poverty, we were in agreement in protecting the dignity of the human person against the scourge of abortion. I wish liberal Catholics were more like Sargent Shriver and less like his brother-in-law Ted Kennedy.