Bishop Bars Kennedy From Communion Due To Votes on Abortion

Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin has publicly asked Rep. Patrick Kennedy to stop taking communion with the Catholic Church due to his support for abortion, confirming that he asked Kennedy to refrain from communion in a private discussion in 2007. The confrontation became public after Kennedy revealed the 2007 conversation. The move could embolden other bishops in barring public officials from the sacrament, particularly in light of the health bill’s protection of abortion services.

Kennedy touched off the public spat in an interview with the Providence Journal when he revealed Tobin’s ban due “the positions that I’ve taken as a public official.” Tobin was clearly upset about the disclosure, stating that it was “pastoral and confidential.” He stated “I am disappointed that the congressman would make public my request of nearly three years ago that sought to provide solely for his spiritual well-being.” While Tobin may feel that he has caused to ban Kennedy, I find it a bit curious that he would first ban a man for his public positions and then be angry that Kennedy publicly discussed the ban with his voters. If the cause for the ban was Kennedy’s public work, he was more than within his rights to raise it with his voters and fellow Catholics.

The bishop is promising more public exchanges if Kennedy continues to speak out: “I have no desire to continue the discussion of Congressman Kennedy’s spiritual life in public. At the same time, I will absolutely respond publicly and strongly whenever he attacks the Catholic Church, misrepresents the teachings of the church or issues inaccurate statements about my pastoral ministry.”

Other leading Catholic leaders have faced similar moves by local priests over their votes in Congress, here and here.

For the full story, click here.

46 thoughts on “Bishop Bars Kennedy From Communion Due To Votes on Abortion”

  1. Does anyone call to mind some men that were in direct disagreement with the church. Luther? Dante? Wesley? The list is endless.

    If memory serves me correctly all but 8 of the “Edit of Worms” were eventually adopted by the Roman Catholic Church, this is to be distinguished from other Catholic Churches, like the Orthodox, South American. They left the church for many of the same stupid reasons.

    Granted the press did not get around until about 1440 and most people could not read. I guess they still left a bad taste in other peoples mouth.

  2. “I am disappointed that the congressman would make public my request of nearly three years ago that sought to provide solely for his spiritual well-being.”

    The Bishop is just pissed he can’t influence public policy in secret by muscling a public official in private about his “spirituality”. I suppose when they pushing for the Stupak amendment in the middle of the night it was just spiritual advising too? Passing laws against non-Catholics?

  3. Charges? What charges?

    I’m saying if you’re going to belong to something, you should stand behind it. Old fashioned loyalty. Be loyal. Yeah, that’s a ‘charge.’ lol

    I’m not a politician but hypothetically if I were to support abortion in a public way, for example write a letter stating my stance in the newspaper, I too would be denied communion. Oooh like the Spanish Inquisition.

    It seems Mr Treacy is having difficulty understanding the concept of separation of church and state. The fact that the Catholic is in politics just gets him in the news. Same as it did for Guilliani and Sebelius. And they are free to leave the Catholic Church if they don’t sort it out with their church leaders.

  4. Simone: “If the politician doesn’t believe what his church believes, he should join a different church. There’s plenty that support abortion.”

    Simone should be more careful with these charges. The bishop did not appear to say the politician “doesn’t believe what his church believes,” according to the report.

    The politician and the bishop just seems to disagree on the political issue of whether or not the church’s views on morality should imposed by law on those who do not share its beliefs.

    Before the 1960, the sale of contraceptives in Massachusetts was illegal. The Church supported the ban until 1960, even though it applied to non-Catholics. (Connecticut, in the Griswold case, banned the USE of them, if you can believe it)!

    There was no excuse for that kind of high-handed behavior.

    The church can preach to its members and others not to have abortions. It should be wary of its history in the United States, when other religions tried to impose their beliefs on immigrant RCs. They ordered protestant prayers in public schools, forcing creation of parochial schools. They imposed Prohibition on RCs, who saw no sin in drinking.

    The bishop better study up on the role of religion in a tolerant, pluralist society.

    This is not Spain in the Inquisition. It is not the Papal States before 1870.

  5. The Catholic Church hierarchy are such hypocrites. They flout the law when they hide felonious priests from facing charges in numerous child abuse cases, but yet they will ban someone from taking communion. Patrick Kennedy should just walk and take his contributions with him and watch the Bishop change his tune.
    Mike A.,
    I had forgotten that Steinham line. so true!

  6. “rcampbell

    Patrick Kennedy had a abortion?”



  7. Jill, your comment about the Church’s “war on women” reminded me of Gloria Steinem’s famous observation that if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

  8. The spat between Bishop Tobin and Rep. Kennedy hides the real issue, the completely predictable and increasingly overt efforts by religious groups to utilize faith-based initiatives as a mechanism for imposing religious doctrines on publicly financed programs. I defy Bishop Tobin or any other Catholic bishop to provide a coherent explanation concerning the circumstances under which Catholic politicians will be denied access to the sacraments. Forget Canon Law on this issue. The bishops are politicizing the sacraments by using them as a lobbying tool to influence voting on legislative proposals. There is no difference between Bishop Tobin’s actions and those of Archbishop Wuerl of Washington, D.C., who has publicly stated that the Church would have to withdraw from managing publicly funded programs for the poor if the D.C. City Council approves same-sex marriage. It was also Archbishop Wuerl who publicly stated that the ban on communion imposed by her local bishop on then Gov. Kathleen Sibelius for her support of abortion rights would continue when she relocated to Washington this past spring.

    If the Catholic Church or any other denomination is to receive tax dollars in connection with the operation of public charities, they will have to comply with public laws. Religious groups have instead been pushing for various exemptions from the law. This is precisely why the concept of faith-based initiatives is fundamentally flawed and, in my lonely opinion, unconstitutional. Religious organizations are free to perform charitable ministries on their own dime. Tax funded social programs, however, should be run by public organizations. And efforts to permit tax dollars to be used to advance religious views should be uniformly and unequivocably denied.

  9. Elaine,

    You really make an interesting point about priests, children and the church. We already, in effect, know they would not support their children. They have abused thousands of children and they would rather pretend bankruptcy than offer a thin dime, let alone love and an apology for their cruelty.

  10. Vince–

    I think Jill got it right, too, when she wrote: “Also, this is clearly about the church’s war on women. They aren’t pulling communion for funding/starting wars or supporting the death penalty. I guess some parts of church doctrine or more equal than others.”

    The church “fathers” have little respect for women–that is, unless the women are women of great wealth. The church believes having an abortion is a sin–yet it says it’s wrong for Catholics to use contraceptives. I’d hazard a guess that if these “guys in gowns” had to spend their fruitful years pregnant most of the time and had to raise and financially support a slew of children, they might have a different perspective.

  11. When is the last time the church denied communion to any of the many Catholic supporters of the death penalty?

  12. Is that the rhumba those angels are doing on the head of that pin? Holy shit. It’s the horizontal rhumba!

  13. Mike S.: “It is an amusing tangent that when JFK ran he had to specify that none of his decisions would be dictated by the Pope. The RCC in the US and in Rome, certainly did not dispute his rights on this.”

    I remember it well, Mike. The Protestant ministers. led by Norman Vincent Peale did not want a President who would take orders from the Pope.

    Nowadays, many Protestant fundamentalists would just love to see a Catholic President, and a lot of other Catholic politician, following the orders of the Pope and their Bishops.

    And about that quotation above from St. Paul.

    As Adlai said at the time, “I find St. Paul appealing, but Peale appalling.”

  14. As I have stated before the Vatican aka the “Roman” CC is the greatest franchise holder in the world. Fee sharing started with render unto Caesar what is Caesars.

  15. Cardinal Egan criticizes Rudy Giuliani for taking Communion

    Hey, Rudy: Taking Holy Communion at the papal Mass was a sin.

    An angry Edward Cardinal Egan pounded New York’s pro-choice former Mayor Rudy Giuliani from his Internet pulpit on Monday for taking the Eucharist at Pope Benedict’s historic Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

    “The Catholic Church clearly teaches that abortion is a grave offense against the will of God,” Egan said in a statement on the archdiocesan Web site.

    “Throughout my years as archbishop of New York, I have repeated this teaching in sermons, articles, addresses and interviews without hesitation or compromise of any kind.”

    Egan said he had “an understanding” with the failed Republican presidential hopeful “that he was not to receive the Eucharist because of his well-known support of abortion.”

    And yet the twice-divorced Giuliani, accompanied by his third wife, Judith, received Communion from a priest standing near the Pope on April 19.

    “I deeply regret that Mr. Giuliani received the Eucharist during the papal visit here in New York, and I will be seeking a meeting with him to insist that he abide by our understanding,” he said in a statement.

    Giuliani acknowledged last night that he had an understanding with Egan, but refused to elaborate.

    Giuliani wasn’t the only pro-choice politician who received Holy Communion during the papal visit. So did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sens. John Kerry, Christopher Dodd and Edward Kennedy at Nationals Park in Washington

    Q. 2. Under what circumstances can a Catholic priest deny someone the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist?
    A. It can be denied under the following circumstances:

    1. The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist cannot be administered to members of other religions, and
    2. The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist cannot be administered to those who voluntarily continue to live in grave sin.

    Q. 4. Where does it teach in the Catholic Church that the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist cannot be administered to those who voluntarily continue to live in grave sin?
    A. This reference is found in Canon Law # Canon Law # 915.

    Canon 915 Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.

    Q. 5. Is this supported by the Holy Bible?
    A. Yes, in the First Letter to the Corinthians, it states:

    “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworhty manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.” [1 Cor. 11:27-9]
    The non-Catholics are unworthy of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ because they do not believe in the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, nor in the real Presence of the Lord Jesus in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
    Catholics who live in grave sin, such as in common-law relationship, practicing homosexuals, those who have not been to Church, nor received the Sacraments for over a year, etc… are unworthy of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ because they are not in a state of grace.

  16. It is an amusing tangent that when JFK ran he had to specify that none of his decisions would be dictated by the Pope. The RCC in the US and in Rome, certainly did not dispute his rights on this.
    The Bishop is obviously too busy avoiding lawsuits and protecting pedophiles to understand that he is setting up an argument against Catholics holding political office. It’s always the unintended consequences of stupid actions that tend to bite one in their ass.

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