Catholic Bishop Blasts Patrick Kennedy on Abortion After Mtg Postponed

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 10, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishop Blasts Patrick Kennedy on Abortion After Meeting Postponed

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 10
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Bishop Thomas Tobin had his scheduled meeting with Congressman Patrick Kennedy postponed — planned after Kennedy claimed the Catholic Church is not pro-life. Kennedy said that in an interview last week and was quickly rebuked by the bishop, who has issued a new scathing letter.

Kennedy told CNS News in an interview that the Catholic Church is fanning “the flames of dissent and discord” by taking the position that it opposed the health care bills in Congress because of their abortion funding.

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?” he said.

Tobin called on Kennedy to issue an apology and said he is a "disappointment" because of his pro-abortion voting record.

The two planned to meet, but the Diocese of Providence announced this morning that the meeting had been "postponed," apparently at Kennedy’s request.

That triggered a new scathing letter from Tobin sharing a "few reflections about your practice of the faith in this public forum" that will appear in the November 12 edition of the Rhode Island Catholic.

Tobin says he normally doesn’t comment publicly on the Catholic faith of elected officials but is doing so "but in our well-documented exchange of letters about health care and abortion, it has emerged as an issue."

He said Kennedy’s comment that "The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic," caught his attention and deserves a public response "it go unchallenged and lead others to believe it’s true."

"Well, in fact, Congressman, in a way it does. Although I wouldn’t choose those particular words, when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church," he writes.

Tobin points out that Catholic Church Canon Law says lay Catholics have an obligation to follow the teachings of the Church.

"There’s lots of canonical and theological verbiage there, Congressman, but what it means is that if you don’t accept the teachings of the Church your communion with the Church is flawed, or in your own words, makes you ‘less of a Catholic,’" he added.

After telling Kennedy what it means to be a Catholic, Bishop Tobin questioned his credentials.

"Congressman, I’m not sure whether or not you fulfill the basic requirements of being a Catholic, so let me ask: Do you accept the teachings of the Church on essential matters of faith and morals, including our stance on abortion?" he asked.

"Your rejection of the Church’s teaching on abortion … it’s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you’ve re-affirmed on many occasions," Tobin said. "Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church."

"Congressman Kennedy, I write these words not to embarrass you or to judge the state of your conscience or soul. That’s ultimately between you and God. But your description of your relationship with the Church is now a matter of public record, and it needs to be challenged," he writes.

He concludes: "It’s not too late for you to repair your relationship with the Church, 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."

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