By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
Lots of comments coming in on Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy's public tiff with the Roman Catholic bishop of Providence, with most siding with the bishop. One pattern I noticed in the comment thread: Those defending Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin's request that Kennedy forgo Communion because of his support for abortion rights (Kennedy said the bishop "instructed" him) are mostly active Catholics. Some of them urge Kennedy to go find another church.
Those sticking up for Kennedy, meanwhile, tend to be disaffected Catholics or antagonists of the church or of religion—folks who have found another church or who just left organized religion.
Does that mean that most Catholics side with Tobin, while Kennedy's backers are all Catholic adversaries? I wouldn't go that far. It's the outspoken voices on both sides that fit that pattern.
Here's Ron Calabrese of Illinois sticking up for Bishop Tobin:
I nominate the Bishop of Rhode Island for our next Pope, once the office is open. Too many so called "Catholics" feel they can interpret the teachings of the Church to their liking. The bishop is merely acting as the shepherd of his flock attempting to retrieve a lost sheep, Kennedy. Unfortunately, like many who allow intellectual pride to replace FAITH, Kennedy would rather grandstand and "nail proclamations to the church wall." Such lost souls bring scandal on the Church because the secular press repeatedly quotes their misguided meanderings. In a particularly appropriate biblical admonition, Christ says, "unless you become a child again, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." A child is all believing and does not allow intellect to blind true Faith. That's why Faith is a gift not easily accepted.
And here's Mario da Penha of New York, a Tobin critic who also takes issue with the wider contemporary Catholic Church:
Christ meant for his Church to be composed of ordinary men and women like Rep. Kennedy, who compose the Universal Catholic Family and not just a few privileged men in the hierarchy like Bishop Tobin. Tobin should represent the "Rock" on which that Church rests, but it seems that in this century, that Rock has withered considerably.
How can men who supposedly have NO experience of family life make unilateral decisions about family life for the rest of their flock? And why are injunctions about abortion which were invented by the Church hierarchy in the nineteenth century, along with that infamous doctrine of Papal Infallibility invented in 1870, now being seen as timeless and eternal?
And in the process, why are the views of St. Augustine, that venerable Church Father, who believed that life begins at quickening and therefore abortion before that period is NOT murder, being suppressed?
The good bishop needs to consult a good Church history before he goes around wagging his tongue irresponsibly to the press! Shame on him!
J Vandemark of TX wants to send Kennedy packing:
You cannot be Catholic and Pro Choice. This is typical of people to try to change religion to fit their self conceived morals.
Kennedy should go start his own Protestant church, there are over 25,000 now to fit all the different self designed morals of people like Kennedy.
CD of Massachusetts says Bishop Tobin's behavior is indicative of the reasons she left the Catholic church:
I can't imagine that God would be as judgmental as our religious leaders. They are the reason that after years of Catholic School and the Catholic Church I no longer believe in organized religion. Leadership in the Catholic Church is just not representative of a true Christian attitude. I just find it hard to believe that so many of the trivial "rules" of the Catholic Church would really be supported by our Great God.