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Tough Test For Patrick Kennedy

U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy has been barred from receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion in the Catholic church. Kennedy told the Providence Sunday Journal that Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin has “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’”. This of course refers to his stance on abortion rights, in particular his recent statements regarding Tobin’s resistance to health care reform, which Kennedy (correctly in my opinion) has identified as one of the greatest human rights issues of our time. Kennedy spoke to John Mulligan at the Providence Journal in October.

The Rhode Island Democrat called the church’s stance a “red herring that fans the flames of dissent and discord.”

“You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life-saving health care?” Kennedy said, referring to the tens of millions of Americans who do not have health insurance. “I thought they were pro-life. If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health-care reform,” Kennedy said.

(Read today’s excellent report by Mulligan and Karen Lee Ziner. See also NYT.)

10 thoughts on “Tough Test For Patrick Kennedy”

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  3. Patrick says:

    Kennedy deserves what he got. It is an embarresment that Rhode Island keeps voting in this pill popping moron.

  4. David says:

    Patrick like most politicians is a hypocrite, if his faith equals votes he will publicly claim to be of that faith; once elected he will do as the spec interests demand. He was elected by his name alone and remains in office out of pity and a large war chest which by itself will keep almost all challengers at bay.

    Interestingly the Bishop is hawking his latest book while all this controversy swirls, on the upside the proceeds go to worthy RI charities so perhaps a few more folks will get a hot meal or a warm place to sleep this winter.

    I find the whole episode to have gone on too long, The Bishop should stick to his flock and Patrick should reevaluate the way he leads his life; then both of them can start the new year fresh.

  5. wess says:

    I’m interested in hearing all sides of this, but I think there may be some confusion between allegations and established facts, at different times. It sounds like you’re describing the volley or two before this latest, more than the current hubbub.

    As I understand it from what reports I’ve followed (and I may well have missed something along the way), Kennedy claims he’s been asked not to take communion, and also that priests within this Diocese have been instructed not to give it to him. The Diocese, I seem to recall, denies the latter and won’t confirm or deny the former. ProJo acknowledges that key points have not been clarified by either side. That’s not quite the same thing as either side lying; it may well be a misunderstanding. I’m also not eager to presume the full truth of a group that has a well documented history of covering up its own crimes against innocents.

    It does seem that Kennedy first brought this out here, in that I believe he was the first to issue an open letter. But he might see it differently, in that he’s been getting the public barrage in Washington from this same crew, somewhat out of our sight up till recently. I’m not ready to call either side out yet, and I feel that both have made tactical errors in this dispute, including that both have let their temper get the better of them at points.

    From my own perspective, this isn’t really about Kennedy anyway, he’s just the most obvious and convenient target. My own sense is that Rhode Island’s longstanding Catholic oligarchy is feeling its legs about to go out under them (with Carcieri and Murphy leaving soon, Col. Doherty likely to follow, and who knows who-all else in that vacuum). They may feel that right here, right now, is their last, best chance to work what muscle they have left to save what they still can, while they still can. The stakes are high. If Kennedy capitulates, it’s a gain for Team Tobin, for a little while longer. If he doesn’t this could backfire badly.

    Tobin seems to think that Kennedy’s weak and vulnerable. That may be an underestimate. While it’s a pretty good bet that Tobin can get the little old ladies angry at him, he’s well liked overall in his district. And who else would they vote for? Can anyone remember who ran against him last time? I can’t? Who’s running against him this time? While Tobin flails at him publicly, he continues to work hard on issues important to his constituents. I don’t think he’s got as much to worry about as press reports seem to suggest.

    Oh, and he’s a member of the U.S. Congress. He doesn’t have a seat in our State House.

  6. Rob says:

    Bishop Tobin is denying that he “barred” Kennedy from recieving Holy Communion. The Bishop did tell him that he “should refrain from recieving” until he has a change of heart. There is a difference.

  7. Christine WH says:

    Mr Kennedy is an embarrassment to all RI residents on so many levels. The Catholic Church has had their share of problems, but there is no mystery around their views on abortion. The idea that he requested Mr Kennedy “consider his position on abortion” when making decisions about his religion is not only WISE, but it is his JOB. Why Kennedy chose to turn this into a media circus is yet another of the strange misguided decisions our favorite Kennedy has made as of late. Clarifications have been made, and the Bishop never told ANYONE not to give him communion, that is just a lie. He told Kennedy that he may need to rethink his religious committment, AND HE SHOULD! He has made a mockery of this state , been given chances that NO one else would ever have gotten…I hope Rhode Islanders wake up and clean that state house out come the next elections.

  8. Kevin says:

    Another great way to alienate people from going to church! If you support the bill you can’t get communion? Way to go, Tobin!

  9. libhomo says:

    Tobin should be going after the rampant child molestation among his priests instead of attacking a patriotic American for defending the inalienable constitutional right of women to have abortions.

  10. Beth Comery says:

    Thanks Wess. I added the link on the front.

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