Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

11/11/2009 (4 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 (4 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'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

One percent? Try the MORE THAN A THIRD in U.S. who rely on Welfare Watch

Image of Back in the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Back in the "Occupy Wall Street" days, protestors rallied around the concept of the United States' "One Percent," which referred to the people with power in the U.S. government. On the other side of the coin, more than ONE THIRD of all U.S. households are now ... continue reading


SMILE FOR THE CAMERA! Texas Governor Rick Perry cheerfully turns himself in Watch

Image of Under duress, Texas Governor Rick Perry maintained an upbeat and positive attitude. Arriving at the Travis County courthouse in Austin for booking and fingerprinting, Perry gave a warm smile for his mug shot.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Under duress, Texas Governor Rick Perry maintained an upbeat and positive attitude. Arriving at the Travis County courthouse in Austin for booking and fingerprinting, Perry gave a warm smile for his mug shot. He's charged with felony corruption charges ... continue reading


HIDDEN FROM VIEW: President Obama renders decision largely in private, despite claims of transparency Watch

Image of Facing charges of executive overreach, to allegations that he is presiding over opaque policy-making, U.S. President Obama has been making decisions typically behind closed doors

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Facing charges of executive overreach, to allegations that he is presiding over opaque policy-making, U.S. President Obama has been making decisions typically behind closed doors. Unilateral action on such issues as immigration, gay rights and tax policy has ... continue reading


Texas Governor Rick Perry assembles formidable high-profile defense team Watch

Image of According to Michael McCrum, the San Antonio-based special prosecutor presenting the case against Texas Governor Rick Perry, the governor may waive his arraignment altogether.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Texas Governor Rick Perry must now complete the humiliating process of being booked, fingerprinted and having his mug shot taken - but he's gathering a formidable legal team in his defense. High-powered attorneys are being gathered after his indictment on ... continue reading


More than 37,000 undocumented children who crossed Mexican border - going back to U.S. schools Watch

Image of The Department of Justice in May issued a statement reminding public schools that they are legally required to enroll all children, regardless of their immigration status.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

They come tired and hungry, crossing great expanses of the desert in search of a better life in the United States - and they're going back to U.S. school shortly. More than 37,000 South and Central American children, who made their escape without parents of ... continue reading


Iraq MUST form stable government before bloodshed can end, Obama says Watch

Image of Many write off the idea that Iraq can unite to repel the Islamic State as wishful thinking.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While the United States sent military aid to Iraq over the past weekend in the form of fighter jets pounding strategic points, President Barack Obama is adamant that Iraq must address its very real problems. The president insists that a stable government in ... continue reading


COMEBACK? Mitt Romney one of the Republican Party's most in-demand campaign surrogates Watch

Image of Mitt Romney says he isn't interested in a third presidential run in 2016. His recent moves have his supporters yearning for him to give it a go and arguing that he would be a stronger candidate than last time.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While he lost to Barack Obama in 2012, Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is hitting the stump for Republicans this fall. In recent months, in which Democratic candidates are keeping their distance from an unpopular president, Romney has emerged as one ... continue reading


CLEMENCY -- CRUSHED: Lawyers forbidden from drafting clemency petitions Watch

Image of Ideal candidates for clemency would have been nonviolent, low-level drug offenders without significant ties to large-scale criminal organizations.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In yet another setback for the Obama administration, a plan to extend clemency to thousands of prisoners was quelled last week after the agency that oversees the federal courts said that hundreds of federal public defenders as well as other court-appointed ... continue reading


Another blow to Obama! The President's war against American law suffers another setback Watch

Image of The American justice system has dealt another blow to Obama's continual unconstitutional power grab, blocking federally paid lawyers from representing clients who want clemency.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An ambitious plan by President Barack Obama's administration to grant clemency to thousands of prisoners suffered a serious blow after federal courts ruled that the hundreds of federal public defenders and other court-appointed attorneys were not actually ... continue reading


As hundreds of bills languish on his desk, push is on to 'fire Harry Reid' Watch

Image of The GOP now hopes to use those examples to build a case against Harry Reid and argue that his procedural stranglehold is the reason for the Senate's painful levels of gridlock.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The GOP is now calling for either the resignation or firing of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Republican National Committee is launching a two-week "robo-call" campaign in efforts to nationalize Senate races across battleground states, arguing that each ... 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, Ezekiel 36:23-28
23 I am going to display the holiness of my great ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
12 Give me back the joy of your salvation, sustain in ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 22:1-14
1 Jesus began to speak to them in parables once ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 21st, 2014 Image

St. Pius X
August 21: On June 2, 1835, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto saw the light of ... 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