1968-06-22: Letter to Ethel Kennedy from Thomas Merton after the assassination of Robert Kennedy


Dublin Core


1968-06-22: Letter to Ethel Kennedy from Thomas Merton after the assassination of Robert Kennedy


Merton, Thomas, 1915-1968
Kennedy, Ethel, 1928-
Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968


Thomas Merton offers Ethel Kennedy condolences following the assassination of her husband, Robert F. Kennedy. Merton encloses what he describes as a "rather touching letter from a total stranger in Brazil. Merton expresses shock regarding "Bobby's tragic immolation" and the hope for the country and for peace lost in his passing. Merton references their mutual friend, Fr. Dan Walsh.


Thomas Merton


Thomas Merton Center Classification, Section A: Correspondence, "Kennedy, Ethel (Skakel)".



1968 June 22


© The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. All rights reserved.




Thomas Merton Collection, Section A (Correspondence), "Kennedy, Ethel (Skakel)", 1968/06/22.

Text Item Type Metadata


June 22, 1968
Dear Ethel:

After sending my telegram I also planned to write you at least a
brief letter. But I know you must have been simply swamped with mail
and telegrams, so I have hesitated. However, I do want to send you the
enclosed rather touching letter from a total stranger in Brazil. If you
don't read Portuguese it would be worth having someone translate it
for you.

Really it is hard to say anything that is capable of measuring the
shock and sorry of Bobby's tragic immolation. Nowadays we tend to
expect almost anything. But there was something particularly awful and
traumatic about this, just because Bobby represented a very real hope
for the whole country and for the world. He was the only one with a real
chance who might also nave done something very definite for peace. And
now it looks as if we will be faced with a completely illusory choice
at the polls-- so much that I wonder if I''ll vote at all. At least
f or t he presidency .

It ha.a been a shock for everyone and I think you mu.st have felt
that the dimensions of your personal sorrow were multiplied in all
direct ions. But that does not make it any easier to have to go through
all that you and the family have suffered. I am glad Dom James was able
to represent our community at the funeral. He brought me messages from
you and Rose Kennedy. I do hope that things are settling down and that
God is bringing peace in the middle of all the wretched agony of this.

Naturally I have said masses tor Bobby and I remember all of you
at the altar. More and more we are forced to realize that God is our
only real hope in the stark mystery of what we are all up against.
Certainly we know that all will be well, but the ways in which He makes
it well are apt to be difficult for us. Courage and peace be with you.
My love to all the family, and God bless you,

It's a little hard to keep track of Dan these days, but I know he
too is continually praying for you.


Thomas Merton, “1968-06-22: Letter to Ethel Kennedy from Thomas Merton after the assassination of Robert Kennedy,” Merton Center Digital Collections, accessed August 18, 2018, https://merton.bellarmine.edu/items/show/17297.

Output Formats