Portland Bishop Richard Malone has issued a rare order banning an advocate for people abused by priests from his services and threatening to issue a rare Interdict — banning Paul Kendrick from the right of communion. The Maine diocese recently released the names of eleven priests in the state with credible allegations of abuse.
In a letter from the vicar general, the Rev. Andrew Dubois, Kendrick was informed that he is banned from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland and must stay 500 feet away from Malone, including avoiding any Mass that he celebrates. If he does not comply, he was warned that he may be denied the right “to participate fully in the sacramental life of the church.”
Kendrick has been outspoken in his criticism and bombarded the church with emails. He has confronted Malone in public settings. He previously received a criminal trespass order barring him from the cathedral, the chancery and Malone’s residence as well as an order to cease and desist from harassing Malone.
Even assuming that Kendrick is a nuisance, the use of an Interdict is an interesting development under canon law. Kendrick is represented by Rev. Tom Doyle, a Virginia priest and advocate for victims who says that he was punished for his work by the Church — ending a career as a canon lawyer.
Portland is lucky that this is a personal interdict as opposed to a local interdict, which can apply to a whole state or country. Pope Innocent III placed the kingdom of England under an interdict for five years between 1208 and 1213 after King John refused to accept his appointee as Archbishop of Canterbury. The most recent interdict in the United States was issued by Bishop René Henry Gracida of Corpus Christi, Texas who interdicted a Catholic state representative — who later died while under the Interdict without benefit of the sacraments. Here is how the good Bishop explained his actions:
In 1993 a member of the House of Representatives in the Texas legislature, who maintained a domicile in the Diocese of Corpus Christi, gave an interview to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, the major newspaper in South Texas. The paper profiled the state representative on two full pages. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times has always been, and remains today, a strongly pro-abortion newspaper. The wife of the founding publisher was one of the founders of Planned Parenthood of Corpus Christi. The paper was eager to reveal to the world that the state representative, who had voted in the Legislature for pro-abortion legislation was a “practicing Catholic.” In the course of the interview, as reported in the newspaper, the state representative admitted being a practicing Roman Catholic who felt justified in supporting abortion on demand.
Recognizing the scandal to the faithful which the publication of this interview would cause, I realized that it was my duty, as ordinary of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, to write to the state representative. I pointed out to him that grave scandal had been given in that interview. I proposed a meeting to discuss the matter with a view to obtaining a retraction which could be published.
There was no response to my letter.
On Sunday, January 30, 1994, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times published another interview with the same state representative in which it was stated that the representative, “a devout Catholic” had not backed away from advocacy of abortion rights. On February 4, 1994 I sent him another letter. In this second letter I warned that “unless you repent of your position, I will have no other choice for the good of the Catholic Church and for the salvation of souls but to impose the penalty of forbidding you from receiving the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and the Anointing of the Sick.”
Such an action is now frowned upon by the Church, which has reversed actions taken against pro-abortion politicians in the denial of communion. What is curious about Malone’s actions is that he would invoke canon law instead of simply rely on secular law for any nuisance or obstructive behavior. To the extent that Kendrick is disrupting services or stalking the Bishop, he can be arrested. It is a particularly bad message to send to victims of priest abuse that they had better behave or be banished.
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