Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tobin/Kennedy, Round 4

Topping the news this Liturgical New Year's Eve (i.e. Christ the King Sunday): the disclosure by Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy that Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence had "instructed [him] not to take Communion" in light of the eight-term Democrat's "consistent actions" in defiance of the church's "clear teaching" on abortion... which, within hours, Tobin responded in detail by noting that his request was made "personally and confidentially" in February 2007, nearly three years before the two entered a public joust late last month, beginning when Kennedy criticized the US bishops' push for abortion-neutral language in any morally acceptable health-care reform plan as a "red herring" and, before today, culminated in a 12 November column where the bishop said he wasn't "sure whether or not [Kennedy] fulfill[ed] the basic requirements of being a Catholic," terming the congressman's pro-choice stance "a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision... re-affirmed on many occasions" that made it "unacceptable to the church and scandalous to many of our members"... and, indeed, a position that "absolutely diminishes [his] communion with the church."

Put simply, so it continues.

SVILUPPO: Not long after saying he was "disappointed that the Congressman would make public my pastoral and confidential request of nearly three years ago that sought to provide solely for his spiritual well-being," Tobin himself lit up the wires:
Tobin told The Associated Press in an interview Sunday that he's praying for the younger Kennedy, who has been in and out of treatment for substance abuse, and said Kennedy has been acting "erratically."

"He attacked the church, he attacked the position of the church on health care, on abortion, on funding," Tobin said. "And that required that I respond. I don't go out looking for these guys. I don't go out picking these fights."...

The bishop said he would probably not personally give Kennedy Communion and might have "a little conversation" with any priest who gave Kennedy the sacrament.

PHOTO: G. Wayne Miller/Providence Journal