Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

11/11/2009 (5 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Your rejection of the Church´s teaching on abortion falls into a different category it´s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you´ve re-affirmed on many occasions.

(Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Uncle Teddy)

(Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Uncle Teddy)

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/11/2009 (5 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) Among those Catholics in public life who openly defy the clear teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the inviolable dignity of every human life from conception to natural death is Representative Patrick Kennedy. The son of the late Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy, he represents Rhode Island´s First Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. The Congressman was to have had a meeting with his Bishop Thomas J. Tobin concerning his very public defiance on this matter, but that meeting has now been postponed at Kennedy´s request.

We bring to our readers the full text of a letter which Congressman Kennedy received from his Bishop, Thomas J. Tobin. This letter was in response to Kennedy's public defiance against the truth revealed in the Natural Law, confirmed by science, affirmed in Scripture and the Tradition and taught infallibly by the Magisterium (teaching office) of the Catholic Church concerning the fundamental Human Right to Life. This matter recently surfaced when Kennedy publicly contended with the Church over the US Bishops´ heroic insistence that the proposed "Health Care Reform" which recently cleared the House not provide funding for abortion.

It passed only after the Pro-Life Amendment named after a Catholic Democrat, Bart Stupak, corrected the lethal nature of its impact on our youngest neighbors in the womb.(Editor's note:Sadly, the amendment never made it into the Senate Bill and the legislation passed without it)  Kennedy and other Catholics such as Speaker Pelosi had simply lied when they said the legislation, prior to this essential Amendment, would not have had the effect of funding the killing of children in the womb with our tax dollars.

As Catholics called to stand in solidarity with all the poor, including those whom Mother Teresa called the "poorest of the poor", our youngest neighbors, we have had to contend with the lies of these Catholics for far too long. Patrick Kennedy is only one of too many. Kennedy told reporters on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 that he had postponed the meeting with his Bishop. He indicated he found it "very disconcerting" that Bishop Tobin will not keep the content of their discussion "private". This is, of course, one of the great subterfuges used by Catholics like Congressman Kennedy and others who openly defy the Church, cause scandal and confuse many in their perfidy.

What is different in this instance is the clear, courageous and commendable response of his Bishop, Thomas J. Tobin. He is using this as an opportunity to not only assist the Congressman by exposing his dangerous error and thereby assisting him to embrace the truth, but he is using it as an opportunity to stop this subterfuge before it continues to lead others astray. He published his letter to the Congressman in the "Rhode Island Catholic" in his regular column entitled "Without a Doubt" which can be found on the website of the "Rhode Island Catholic" at http://www.thericatholic.com/opinion/detail.html?sub_id=2632 (Editors Update: the Congressman has announced he will not seek reelection)

******

Dear Congressman Kennedy

BY BISHOP THOMAS J. TOBIN

Since our recent correspondence has been rather public, I hope you don´t mind if I share a few reflections about your practice of the faith in this public forum. I usually wouldn´t do that that is speak about someone´s faith in a public setting but in our well-documented exchange of letters about health care and abortion, it has emerged as an issue. I also share these words publicly with the thought that they might be instructive to other Catholics, including those in prominent positions of leadership.

For the moment I´d like to set aside the discussion of health care reform, as important and relevant as it is, and focus on one statement contained in your letter of October 29, 2009, in which you write, "The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic." That sentence certainly caught my attention and deserves a public response, lest it go unchallenged and lead others to believe it´s true. And it raises an important question: What does it mean to be a Catholic?

"The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic."

Well, in fact, Congressman, in a way it does. Although I wouldn´t choose those particular words, when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church. This principle is based on the Sacred Scripture and Tradition of the Church and is made more explicit in recent documents.

For example, the "Code of Canon Law" says, "Lay persons are bound by an obligation and possess the right to acquire a knowledge of Christian doctrine adapted to their capacity and condition so that they can live in accord with that doctrine." (Canon 229, #1)

The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" says this: "Mindful of Christ´s words to his apostles, ´He who hears you, hears me,´ the faithful receive with docility the teaching and directives that their pastors give them in different forms." (#87)

Or consider this statement of the Church: "It would be a mistake to confuse the proper autonomy exercised by Catholics in political life with the claim of a principle that prescinds from the moral and social teaching of the Church." (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2002)

There´s lots of canonical and theological verbiage there, Congressman, but what it means is that if you don´t accept the teachings of the Church your communion with the Church is flawed, or in your own words, makes you "less of a Catholic."

But let´s get down to a more practical question; let´s approach it this way: What does it mean, really, to be a Catholic? After all, being a Catholic has to mean something, right?

Well, in simple terms and here I refer only to those more visible, structural elements of Church membership being a Catholic means that you´re part of a faith community that possesses a clearly defined authority and doctrine, obligations and expectations. It means that you believe and accept the teachings of the Church, especially on essential matters of faith and morals; that you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish; that you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly; that you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially.

Congressman, I´m not sure whether or not you fulfill the basic requirements of being a Catholic, so let me ask: Do you accept the teachings of the Church on essential matters of faith and morals, including our stance on abortion? Do you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish? Do you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly? Do you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially?

In your letter you say that you "embrace your faith." Terrific. But if you don´t fulfill the basic requirements of membership, what is it exactly that makes you a Catholic? Your baptism as an infant? Your family ties? Your cultural heritage?

Your letter also says that your faith "acknowledges the existence of an imperfect humanity." Absolutely true. But in confronting your rejection of the Church´s teaching, we´re not dealing just with "an imperfect humanity" as we do when we wrestle with sins such as anger, pride, greed, impurity or dishonesty. We all struggle with those things, and often fail.

Your rejection of the Church´s teaching on abortion falls into a different category it´s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you´ve re-affirmed on many occasions. Sorry, you can´t chalk it up to an "imperfect humanity." Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.

Congressman Kennedy, I write these words not to embarrass you or to judge the state of your conscience or soul. That´s ultimately between you and God. But your description of your relationship with the Church is now a matter of public record, and it needs to be challenged. I invite you, as your bishop and brother in Christ, to enter into a sincere process of discernment, conversion and repentance.

It´s not too late for you to repair your relationship with the Church, redeem your public image, and emerge as an authentic "profile in courage," especially by defending the sanctity of human life for all people, including unborn children. And if I can ever be of assistance as you travel the road of faith, I would be honored and happy to do so.

Sincerely yours,

Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence

******

We thank Bishop Thomas Tobin for his clarity, courage and the genuine pastoral concern shown toward Congressman Kennedy. We also thank the Bishop for his uncompromising defense of those whose lives are threatened by the continued rebellion of too many Catholics in public life who openly reject the truth,confusing many in the process and causing serious scandal.

We ask our readers to pray that Congressman Kennedy would prayerfully receive this loving and needed correction and then reschedule his meeting with this good Shepherd. We also ask our readers to increase their prayer for all of our Bishops as they continue to contend for the truth about life and pastor the flock of God entrusted to them.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Politics & Policy

Social Security numbers issued to more than half a million illegal immigrants in U.S. Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The cornerstone to lawful employment to labor in the United States, it has been recently revealed that more than half a million illegal immigrants - or 541,000 illegal aliens. This disheartening statistic has been revealed by Carolyn Colvin, acting commissioner ... continue reading


Hillary Clinton caught in shameful lie on family's history Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As Hillary Clinton continues to shape her platform for presidency, she is reported as boasting her family's immigration history. During one of her first speeches as an official candidate, Clinton said that "all her grandparents had immigrated to the United States," ... continue reading


Federal government sets all-time record for tax revenue Watch

Image of We will not know how much additional tax revenue the Treasury pulled in until it releases its next daily statement tomorrow afternoon. Every dollar of it will add to the new record.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Tax day has arrived - and with the close of business on April 14, the Treasury brought in a record $1,477,901,000,000 since fiscal 2015. Began on October 1, 2014, these figures are courtesy of the Daily Treasury Statement. Despite this record tax revenue, the ... continue reading


INSANE: U.S. federal tax code is 74,608 pages long! Watch

Image of If the tax code continues to grow at the same pace it did over the last century, it will pass 100,000 pages in 2050.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If you had your taxes professionally prepared this year, you may now fully appreciate what your accountant or cleric did for you this year. The U.S. federal tax code is a whopping 74,608 pages long! Try to imagine trying to digest all the nuances that go along ... continue reading


'We're in uncharted territory here' U.S. official admits ISIS' reign of terror is crushing Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S.-led coalition against ISIS continues, now with 62 countries working to put an end to ISIS. Canada has become the latest country to shoot airstrikes against ISIS. The fight against ISIS is being described as "off the charts historically." LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Who are Hillary Clinton's supporters? Well not women, and not young Americans: A look into Clinton's shocking Facebook following Watch

Image of Hillary Clinton is the favored Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2016, but Facebook demographics show she may have a long way to go.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hillary Clinton is the de facto face of the Democrat party's aspirations for the presidency in 2016, but you wouldn't know that by looking at her Facebook pages. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The single largest percentage of Clinton's fans aren't even from ... continue reading


Lois Lerner emails expose secretive IRS warnings Watch

Image of The lower-level employees

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former director of Exempt Organizations Unit at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Lois Lerner is reported as warning other IRS officials to manage the lower-level employees written conversations in 2013. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lerner resigned from the ... continue reading


Rubio steps into spotlight for 2016 run Watch

Image of Florida Senator Marco Rubio will officially announce his intent to seek the Republican nomination for the president today, following months of speculation.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The question over which Republican will be the next to announce their intent to run for the nomination in 2016 has been answered, as Marco Rubio joins Senator Ted Cruz and Rand Paul in the race which will soon be flooded with even more competitors. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


COLD WAR NO MORE? U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro meet Watch

Image of Obama and Castro greeted each other courteously amid an explosion of camera flashes Friday night. The two sat at the same table but not directly next to one another.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United States and Cuba may not be the best of friends, but the meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro this past weekend marks a turning point in international relations. It was the first time that leaders from both ... continue reading


Putting the big bite on the top 20 percent: Unlucky few pay 84 percent of all U.S. income taxes Watch

Image of The U.S. federal income tax system is very progressive - higher income groups pay increasingly higher tax rates, and therefore disproportionately higher and higher shares of the total income taxes collected.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Who pays what in income taxes? According to a study in the Wall Street Journal, only 20 percent of all U.S. taxpayers pay 84 percent of all taxes owed. How does every day, ordinary taxpayer fit into this schema? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Individual ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 7:51--8:1
51 'You stubborn people, with uncircumcised hearts ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 31:3-4, 6, 7, 8, 17, 21
3 You are my rock, my rampart; true to your name, ... Read More

Gospel, John 6:30-35
30 So they said, 'What sign will you yourself do, the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 21st, 2015 Image

St. Anselm
April 21: St. Anselm Archbishop of Canterbury and Confessor APRIL 21,A.D. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter