Patrick Kennedy started all this with a public denunciation almost 3 weeks ago of his church’s position opposing socialized healthcare unless it specifically excluded abortion.
Now Kennedy is complaining that his bishop has dared to publicly respond to Kennedy’s self-started firestorm. And although Kennedy’s statement that he finds Bishop Tobin’s public reproaches (here and here) “very disconcerting” may reveal a heart in turmoil, he’s not showing it by his actions. Most recently Kennedy voted against the Stupak/Pitts pro-life amendment to the House healthcare bill….
Kennedy has considerable obstacles to surmount before agreeing with his church that abortion is wrong. He needs our prayers.
There is the Democrat Party and the Kennedy family’s prominent standing. There is the constituency that elected him. There is Kennedy’s social network of supporters, as evidenced in the following article. There is the Kennedy family, which is almost entirely and adamantly pro-abortion. WSJ described abortion as Kennedy “dogma.”
But I think most importantly, there is Kennedy’s father. To reject abortion would be to reject much of what Ted Kennedy stood for. It would be to call into question his father’s eternal resting place, since the Catholic faith believes this is determined through a combination of faith and works.
Like I said, Kennedy has considerable obstacles.
From the Providence Journal, today:
U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy said he was “not going to dignify with an answer” Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin’s public comments that Kennedy could not be a good Catholic and still support abortion rights. Kennedy called those comments “unfortunate,” and said, “I’m not going to engage [in] this anymore.”…
Kennedy said he also finds it “very disconcerting” that Bishop Tobin will not agree to keep private the discussion of Kennedy’s faith, and that is why his scheduled meeting with the bishop Thursday has been postponed….
Kennedy said yesterday that he has a pastor, and “I have my sacraments through that pastor. I have sought the sacraments of reconciliation and Communion and all the rest.” He said he preferred to keep his pastor’s name private.
His comments were the latest in a series of sharp exchanges during the past few weeks between Kennedy and the bishop. They started when Kennedy attacked the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion-related aspects of the House bill to overhaul the country’s health-care system.
Kennedy said, “I had initially agreed to a meeting with him [Thursday], provided we would not debate this in public in terms of my personal faith, but unfortunately, he hasn’t kept to that agreement, and that’s very disconcerting to me.” But he also said he expects to meet with the bishop, if matters of faith will be kept “between us.”
Michael Guilfoyle, spokesman for the diocese, said the meeting was postponed “by mutual agreement,” but noted, “The bishop’s schedule is still free on Thursday if the congressman would like to have that personal and pastoral meeting. The contents between any personal conversation between the bishop and the congressman could certainly remain private. However, the congressman has made this a very public debate, and the bishop is responding to his public comments.”
Asked if he had been threatened with denial of Communion or other sanctions, Kennedy said, “Those are all a subject the bishop and I will discuss, and ideally, hopefully, we will keep it between us.”
Guilfoyle was asked later whether Kennedy would be denied Communion or any other sacrament, should he attend church in Rhode Island. Guilfoyle referred the question to Bishop Tobin, who could not be reached Tuesday evening.
Kennedy took reporters’ questions outside the Chafee Health Center in Providence after more than 100 volunteers from progressive groups and health-care organizations thanked him and U.S. Rep. James Langevin for their work on health-care reform, and their vote in favor of a House bill that passed Saturday night.
The bill contained an abortion provision that Kennedy had opposed when the amendment came up for a vote: Langevin had voted for it, after his and others’ efforts at compromise language failed. The provision prohibits women insured under the public option, or who obtain federal health insurance tax credits, from purchasing abortion insurance. Kennedy said – and Langevin echoed Tuesday – that they did not want to see a single issue such as the abortion provision derail health-care reform.
Kennedy accused the church of “spinning” his position after he criticized the U.S. Catholic bishops because they said that they would oppose the health-care reform bills pending in Congress if they did not explicitly deny federal funding for abortion.
[HT: Curt Jester]