Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bishop Tobin Preaches Catholicism to Kennedy

Representative Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island was to meet Thursday with Thomas J. Tobin, the Roman Catholic bishop of Providence, and perhaps start healing a bitter rift over whether health care legislation now before Congress should restrict abortion coverage.

-- From "Patrick Kennedy clashes with outspoken RI bishop" by Ray Henry, Associated Press 11/12/09

Their feud over a proposal expanding the nation's health insurance system has escalated to the point where Tobin has publicly questioned Kennedy's faith and membership in the church and said he should not receive communion, the central sacrament in Catholic worship.

Patrick Kennedy is among several Catholic politicians to clash with their bishops over abortion, which the church considers a paramount moral evil not open for negotiation. Fewer than 20 of the roughly 200 bishops overseeing U.S. dioceses have threatened to deny communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion, [said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a church observer and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.]

"I don't think you'll find widespread support among Catholics for this," he said. [Oh really? Check out these statements.]

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., has said that U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic Democrat who supports abortion rights, should stop taking communion until she changes her stance.

Former Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis has said he would withhold communion from politicians who support abortion, such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican who also ran afoul of the church because he is divorced.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Verbally, bishop isn’t turning cheek" by Noah Bierman, Boston Globe Staff 11/12/09

The bishop from America’s most Catholic state, and increasingly one of the church’s most provocative prelates, has provided a rather concise explanation for his willingness to clash with politicians: Christians are not supposed to be nice, at least not all the time.

"In confronting moral evil, Jesus wasn’t nice, kind, gentle, and sweet," Thomas J. Tobin, the bishop of Providence, wrote in his diocesan newspaper column earlier this year. "He lived in a rough and tumble world and He took His message to the streets."

Tobin has followed his interpretation of Jesus’ demeanor most devoutly, and he is quickly positioning himself at the national forefront of a renewed debate over the role of Catholic orthodoxy in the public square, most recently in a very personal feud with Representative Patrick Kennedy. As the abortion issue has taken on prominence in the national health care debate, Tobin has insisted Catholics get involved in the rough world of politics - even if it means tangling with prochoice Catholic legislators. And he has led by example.

Tobin wrote [to Patrick Kennedy], "Your position is unacceptable to the church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the church."

Earlier, Kennedy had questioned why church leaders would oppose the opportunity to insure millions of poor Americans because the bill could possibly provide coverage for abortions.

"You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life-saving health care?" Kennedy told the Catholic News Service last month. A health care bill was passed by the US House of Representatives over the weekend, with a controversial amendment restricting federal funding for abortion - considered a major victory for the nation’s Catholic bishops and other abortion opponents. Kennedy voted against the amendment but supported the final bill.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Rep. Kennedy and Bishop in Bitter Rift on Abortion" by Abby Goodnough, New York Times 11/12/09

. . . Bishop Tobin stepped up his public rebuke of Mr. Kennedy, accusing him Wednesday of “false advertising” for describing himself as a Catholic and saying he should not receive holy communion because he supports using taxpayer money for abortions.

“If you freely choose to be a Catholic, it means you believe certain things, you do certain things,” Bishop Tobin said on WPRO, a Providence radio station. “If you cannot do all that in conscience, then you should perhaps feel free to go somewhere else.”

“It’s not too late for you to repair your relationship with the Church,” he wrote, “redeem your public image, and emerge as an authentic ‘profile in courage,’ especially by defending the sanctity of human life for all people, including unborn children.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has lobbied forcefully against including federal financing for abortion in the health care legislation, and Bishop Tobin, who has led the Catholic Church in Rhode Island since 2005, has been a vocal participant.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.