UNITED STATES: Heinz Religion

We thank Andrew McElwaine for this item: I noted a discussion on your website about Sen. John Heinz’ religion.  With the election over, I don’t imagine this discussion is very relevant, but in fact he was an Episcopalian.  His funeral, at which I was an usher, was held at the National Cathedral and presided over by three Episcopal Bishops, including Sen. John Danforth (R-MO).  His grandfather, Howard Heinz, was active in the Presbyterian Church and built Heinz Chapel at the University of Pittsburgh (not Carnegie Mellon) as a non-denominational Christian church.
I have seen a number of weblogs which claim that the Heinz family is Jewish.  Most of these sites are either anti-Israel or are anti-Semitic in nature.  My knowledge of the family only goes back 5 generations – but for whatever it is worth none of them were Jewish. 
Andrew McElwaine
Long-ago aide to Sen. John Heinz

RH:  I suppose the family was originally German.  Were they Lutheran?  Here is another question I cannot answer. The Senator's wife, now Mrs. Kerry, was I assume at least nominally Catholic. I have been asked if she is a member of the Opus Dei, which, as the name indicates, is devoted to doing "the Lord's work", which she does. I am especially interested in her because the Portuguese diaspora is a fascinating subject. John Danforth has just emerged as the US representative to the UN.  He is a man of great integrity, which will be helpful at the UN.

Andrew McElwaine provides more information on the religion of the Heinz family: Senator Heinz’ great-grandfather, H. J. Heinz, was active in the Methodist religion.  I don’t know his father’s, John Henry Heinz, religion – he was the original member of the family in America.  He did emigrate from Germany. The Heinz plant in the 1880s (still going today) was located in an area of Allegheny City (today the North Shore of Pittsburgh) which was largely German in population.  Whether that was intentional I could not say.  Teresa Heinz Kerry was raised Catholic and remains as far as I know an active Church member.  She is not to my knowledge a member of Opus Dei.  Oddly enough, however, Opus Dei does own a large home in Pittsburgh’s Shady Side neighborhood which once belonged to Howard Heinz, Sen. Heinz’ grandfather.

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: December 5, 2004