Monday, December 17, 2012
Upon the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii (a war hero from WWII, leaving Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey the sole remaining WWII veteran in Congress), Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont becomes the President pro tempore of the Senate and, I believe, the first Catholic to hold the position. Indeed, if Senator John Kerry is nominated and confirmed to be Secretary of State, the four offices in line of succession to the presidency will all be held by Catholics: Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker John Boehner, Senator Leahy, and Secretary Kerry.
CORRECTION: David Gibson notes over at dotCommonweal that Senator Allen Ellender of Louisiana was President pro tem of the Senate (from 1971-1972). Ellender was baptized a Catholic but later listed himself as a Presbyterian and belonged to no church in his adult life. See Thomas Becnel, Senator Allen Ellender of Louisiana: A Biography (LSU Press, 1995), 149-50. But I take the modification to my earlier post.