The Jackie Letters

That I can throw up a headline like that and most of my readers will know exactly who Jackie is suggests that Mrs Kennedy-Onassis is still a celebrity figure like other one-namers: Madonna, Pink, W, for example.

Should such letters be a public thing? I was thinking about that in connection with Pope Francis’ analysis of the modern paradox involving the desire for anonymity and at the same time the “morbid curiosity” of the masses. 

The letter reveal details of a private correspondence between a priest and a lay woman who was his student. Later she became famous. Do these written thoughts have historical value? Or do they just tickle the modern “morbid curiosity?”

I’ve heard the protest of innocence: they cannot be under the seal of confession because you can’t and couldn’t confess by post. That sets the bar pretty low, in my opinion. Ministry professionals have standards of conduct and we have ethics. If people don’t give my explicit permission to share private communication, I will not share it. We have a higher protocol to follow.

Harry and Bess letters–you know of whom I speak–now these might be of interest. Perhaps. Maybe. With permission. But I still haven’t read them.

What is history? What is celebrity? Does it make a difference? And do we really need to know all Jackie’s stuff? I don’t think so.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to The Jackie Letters

  1. Liam says:

    And you won’t ever gave a chance to read many of Harry and Bess letters because Bess burned hundreds of them in 1955. Harry found Bess burning her letters to him. “What are you doing? Think of history,” Bess replied. “Oh, I have,” as she put more on the fire..

  2. John McGrath says:

    Letters to a priest? Made public? Surely they were written in confidence. My aunt received many confidences from Jackie, and none will be made public. By an odd coincidence I learned from some relatives of hers a few very embarrassing things about the behavior of some of Jackie’s relatives (not her) and I would never make them public. People have a right to keep their souls – and their families – private.

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