Rhode Island Bishop Denies Communion to Rep. Patrick Kennedy


Interesting position taken by Bishop Tobin of Rhode Island.  Because Patrick Kennedy is upholding the law, he is being denied communion by the Catholic Church.  Chris Matthews does a pretty decent job here of straddling the fence between respectful disagreement and putting Bishop Thomas Tobin on the spot.  I wonder if the Bishop supports the ability of all those Cardinals, Bishops and Msngrs in nthe church who were aware of child sex abuse going on but did nothing to protect the kids.  Would they deny communion to Republican lawmakers who voted for an illegal or unjust war in Iraq or advocated techniques of torture.

I think the Bishop’s actions here are as much political as they are religious. And its fine for the Bishop to deny Rep. Kennedy communion.  It’s also fine for the state and federal government to revoke the tax exempt status of the Rhode Island diocese.


  1. “It’s also fine for the state and federal government to revoke the tax exempt status of the Rhode Island diocese.”

    So now the IRS is going to draw the line between moral judgement and politics – good luck with that one Dan.

  2. Kennedy cannot overturn Roe v. Wade by himself; and there are more than Catholics out there. Is the Bishop going to deny communion to women who have had abortions? What about Cathoic family members aware of friends and family who may have had one? And if we’re going to startr recognizing that life begins at conception, does that mean I should have gotten a tax write off for my daughter in 1998 when she was conceived instead of 1999 when she was born. Perhaps the church should stay away from politics less government (law enforcement) start being more thorough in its investigation of the sex abuse of minors

  3. I guess this means that Jeremiah Wright was engaging in political speech when he proclaimed “g.d. America” and “America’s chickens have come home to roost.

    Call the IRS!

  4. Always HILARIOUS to read the cafeteria Catholicism of Matt and “junior,” who reserve their outrage for some issues yet say next-to-nothing on the sex-abuse scandal—unless it involves their beloved former pastor and pedophile-protecting alma mater, respectively!

  5. I don’t believe Wright’s statements singled out a specific member of the congregation as the Bishop did to Patrick Kennedy. Given this is Rhode Island and New England is pretty progressive, there are a number of Catholics who personally abhor abortion but will not deny a woman to decide what she can do with her body. What’s the next step here? Will the church start denying communion to those who have sex out of wedlock? What about denying communion to those who are known to be divorced? The bishop is being selective in his exclusive of Rep. Kennedy which makes this more politically based than faith based.

  6. I don’t support the denial of communion as a political weapon and agree with Joe Biden’s bishop, Bishop Malooy of Wilmington, who said ” I won’t politicize the Eucharist. I don’t want to alienate people. I want to change their hearts and minds.” That being said, Bishop Tobin is within his rights under Church law to do this.

    Patrick Kennedy is the one who took the Euchrist issue public in what appears to be an attempt to push back at the Church for its advocacy of a pro-life position in the health care legislation. The Church–like any other religious or non-profit organization– has every right to advocate a public policy position. They have every right to withohold a sacrament, whether it be for someone who supports abortion, who support capital punishment, who opposes aid to the immigrant, or any other issue. kennedy, as a public official, has to be able to say no to the Church if he believes that his job as a member of Congress would demand that he say no. If he can’t, he should quit Congress. Obviously, he is not being ordered about by the Bishop so he should stay in office. But he needs to understand there are consequences to conduct and accept that, go to another Diocese to take communion or leave the Church.
    Governmental leaders will be under greater scrutiny of Church leaders and the faithful for their conduct. When I attended mass and saw Bob Dornan take communion I wondered how he could do it. But to drag out the tax exempt card because you don’t like what the Church is doing internally with a member is weak, especially since Kennedy spilled the beans on this. And as for the sex abuse throw in–which usually occurs on another blog–I assume most of the clergy who knowingly or negligently enabled pedophiles to prey on the faithful–have confessed for their sins. I doubt if Patrick Kennedy has confessed for his views on abortion. Not that kennedys views should compared with the conduct of those involved in the Church scandal, but since it was dragged in here, that should be considered.

  7. Dan,

    The church already denies holy communion to those that have sex outside of marriage, divorce and remarry without anulling the first marriage or commit sexual abuse and to anyone else that has the stain of mortal sin upon their souls. If Representative Kennedy was truly repentant, went to confession and completed his pennance he along with any other catholic in a state of grace may receive communion.

  8. PSURIFA — I don’t see any priest checking martial status at the door. I don’t see a lot of brides walking up the aisle with a big black hem on their dress. The church looks the other way often on a number of things.

  9. Dan,

    If one’s purpose by going to church is to “get one over” on the priest they really should reconsider their motive. Priest or diocese shopping is ridiculous. In the end it is god you must answer to. If you choose not to believe or accept the teachings of the church then so be it. Cafeteria catholicsim and all of the other arguments that are used to obscure the issues are invalid. Catholicism is not a democracy and should not be subjected to popular opinion or fads.

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