Diocesan Priests Ordered to Deny Communion? Congressman Kennedy Says Yes, Bishop Tobin Says No.
Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin and Rhode Island First District Congressman Kennedy are offering two different versions of the latest consequences resulting from Congressman Kennedy’s public statement that a true pro-life position requires the Catholic Church to support a healthcare plan that includes public funding for abortions (h/t commenter “Tim”, who pointed to this Ray Henry AP story at Boston.com, which led back to the John E. Mulligan original in the Projo)…
Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin has forbidden Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy to receive the Roman Catholic sacrament of Holy Communion because of his advocacy of abortion rights, the Rhode Island Democrat said Friday.As Congressman Kennedy is the only source making public the details of what the Bishop obviously considers to be a personal conversation, there is a reasonable possibility that what Bishop said is not being relayed accurately, not because of intentional dishonesty, but because the original message was not fully understood.
“The bishop instructed me not to take Communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me Communion,” Kennedy said in a telephone interview.
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 Bishop Tobin told him not to take the sacrament. And he declined to say whether he has obeyed the bishop’s injunction.
Bishop Tobin, through a spokesman, declined to address the question of whether he had told Kennedy not to receive Communion. But the bishop’s office moved quickly to cast doubt on Kennedy’s related assertion about instructions to the priests of Rhode Island.
“Bishop Tobin has never addressed matters relative to public officials receiving Holy Communion with pastors of the diocese,” spokesman Michael K. Guilfoyle said in an e-mailed statement.
According to a new AP story from Ray Henry, Bishop Tobin’s expression of concern regarding Congressman Kennedy’s public positions conflicting with Church teaching predate the October, 2009 CNS video which brought the disagreement into the public light…
The Roman Catholic bishop of Rhode Island said Sunday that he asked Rep. Patrick Kennedy in a 2007 letter to stop receiving Communion, the central sacrament of the church, because of the congressman’s public stance on moral issues.
Bishop Thomas Tobin divulged details of his confidential exchange with Kennedy after the Democratic lawmaker told The Providence Journal in a story published Sunday that Tobin had instructed him not to receive Communion. The two men have clashed repeatedly in the past few weeks over abortion.
Kennedy did not say where or how he received those instructions. He declined to say whether he has obeyed the bishop’s request…
Tobin urged Kennedy not to receive communion in a February 2007 letter, a portion of which was released publicly by Tobin’s office Sunday.
“In light of the Church’s clear teaching, and your consistent actions, therefore, I believe it is inappropriate for you to be receiving Holy Communion and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so,” Tobin wrote.