January 20, 1961 – The First Catholic Elected U.S. President Attends Mass on Inauguration Day

In the 1960 presidential race, Democrat John F. Kennedy carried the electoral college by a comfortable margin, 303 out of 537 electoral votes, but his popular vote margin was a narrow 49.72 percent to 49.55 percent for Republican Richard Nixon. One of the major issues troubling voters about Kennedy was the fact that he was a Catholic.

To address fears that his being Catholic would impact his decision-making, he famously told the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12, 1960:

I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters – and the Church does not speak for me.”

Newly Elected President John F. Kennedy  shown with Father Richard J. Casey, pastor of Holy Trinity Church, where J.F.K. attended Mass just prior to his inauguration on January 20, 1961

Newly Elected President John F. Kennedy shown with Father Richard J. Casey, pastor of Holy Trinity Church, where J.F.K. attended Mass just prior to his inauguration on January 20, 1961

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