Jackie was ‘bitter against God’ after JFK death: letters

JFK and Jackie

Newly released letters between former US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and a Dublin-based priest reveal Kennedy's struggles to keep her faith after her husband's assassination, reports the Catholic News Service.

The letters exchanged by Kennedy and Vincentian Father Joseph Leonard, who died in 1964, are set to be auctioned in Dublin in June. Excerpts were published in The Irish Times newspaper.

One letter, dated January 1964 -- just weeks after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated -- revealed how the tragedy left Kennedy struggling with her Catholic faith. 'I am so bitter against God,' she wrote, but added 'only he and you and I know that.'

She explained that she did not want to be bitter 'or bring up my children in a bitter way' and was 'trying to make my peace with God.' She wrote: 'I think God must have taken Jack to show the world how lost we would be without him -- but that is a strange way of thinking to me.'

Kennedy wrote in the same letter that 'God will have a bit of explaining to do to me if I ever see him.'  She asked Father Leonard to pray for her and said she would pray too in an effort to overcome her bitterness against God. 'I have to think there is a God -- or I have no hope of finding Jack again,' she wrote.

Father Leonard taught at All Hallows College, the Vincentian seminary in Dublin, and first met a young Jacqueline Lee Bouvier in 1950 when she visited Dublin. The two struck up an immediate friendship and corresponded regularly.

The letters reveal that Kennedy often turned to Father Leonard at times of darkness. In 1956, she wrote to the priest after the birth of a stillborn daughter, Arabella, and said: 'Don't think I would ever be bitter at God.'

FULL STORY Letters to Irish priest reveal Jackie Kennedy's struggles with faith (CNS)

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