Hardball. I likey!
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin has banned Rep. Patrick Kennedy from receiving Communion, the central sacrament of the church, in Rhode Island because of the congressman’s support for abortion rights, Kennedy said in a newspaper interview published Sunday.
The decision by the outspoken prelate, reported on The Providence Journal’s Web site, significantly escalates a bitter dispute between Tobin, an ultra orthodox bishop, and Kennedy, a son of the nation’s most famous Roman Catholic family.
“The bishop instructed me not to take Communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me Communion,” Kennedy told the paper in an interview conducted Friday.
Kennedy said the bishop had explained the penalty by telling him “that I am not a good practicing Catholic because of the positions that I’ve taken as a public official,” particularly on abortion.
He declined to say when or how Tobin told him not to take the sacrament. And he declined to say whether he has obeyed the bishop’s injunction.
Good for Bishop Tobin. You will remember, of course, the choice words of Kenndy’s that got him into this state.
CNS Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I) told CNSNews.com that the Catholic Church is doing nothing but fanning “the flames of dissent and discord” by taking the position that it will oppose the health-care reform bill under consideration in Congress unless it is amended to explicitly prohibit funding of abortion.
“I can’t understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time, where the very dignity of the human person is being respected by the fact that we’re caring and giving health care to the human person–that right now we have 50 million people who are uninsured,” Kennedy told CNSNews.com when asked about a letter the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) had sent to members of Congress stating the bishops’ position on abortion funding in the health-care bill.
“You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life saving health care? I thought they were pro-life?” said Kennedy. “If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health care reform because it’s going to provide health care that are going to keep people alive. So this is an absolute red herring and I don’t think that it does anything but to fan the flames of dissent and discord and I don’t think it’s productive at all.