Patrick Kennedy Asked By Providence Bishop Not To Take Communion
Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin asked Congressman Patrick Kennedy not to take Communion because Kennedy opposes the church’s stance against health care reform without tighter restrictions on abortion.
The bishop’s attempt to publicly shame Kennedy comes just a few months after the death of his father, Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Tobin told The Associated Press in an interview Sunday that he’s praying for the younger Kennedy, who has been in and out of treatment for substance abuse, and said Kennedy has been acting “erratically.”
“He attacked the church, he attacked the position of the church on health care, on abortion, on funding,” Tobin said. “And that required that I respond. I don’t go out looking for these guys. I don’t go out picking these fights.”
Tobin questions Kennedy’s faith and says Kennedy’s position is scandalous, but Kennedy says he’s no less of a Catholic because of his stance on public policy. Kennedy says Tobin told him not to receive Communion and instructed other priests not to give him Communion. Tobin says he never instructed priests not to give Kennedy Communion, but said he’d have “a little conversation” with any priest who did so. There is no word on whether Tobin ever spoke out against Patrick’s father, Ted Kennedy’s right to take the sacrament. And Tobin wouldn’t say whether he made a similar request of Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, also a Catholic who supports the health care reform bill.
Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo addressed the issue in 1994 in a speech at Notre Dame. Cuomo, a Catholic, believes, that one’s personal faith should be kept separate from developing public policy. He spoke with the Associated press in light of the Kennedy issue.
“If you’re required (by the church) to make everybody follow your Catholic role, then nobody would vote for Catholics because it’s clear that when you get the authority, you’re going to be guided by your faith,” the former governor told the AP.
Cuomo said there are two positions a politician can take: They can oppose church doctrine outright or, as he did, accept church teachings personally but refuse to carry them into the public arena where they would affect people of every faith.
“Don’t ask me to make everybody live by it because they are not members of the church,” Cuomo said. “If that were the operative rule, how could you get any Catholic politician in office? And would that be better for the Catholic church?”Click here for reuse options!
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