Monday, November 23, 2009

Bishop Tobin Responds To Patrick Kennedy Who Responded To Bishop Tobin ........

I just love the headline CNA used for this article. I bet Bishop Tobin, he of the pastoral concern for Patrick Kennedy's soul, doesn't like it too much. Maybe CNA was actually referring to what JPII is reported to have done to himself.

Bishop Tobin Lashes Out At Rep. Kennedy for Going Public on Communion Decision
Providence, R.I., Nov 22, 2009 / 04:47 pm (CNA).-

In a strong response to Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s public revelation that he has been banned from Communion for his stand on abortion, the Bishop of Rhode Island, Thomas Tobin, expressed his “disappointment” and “surprise” at Kennedy’s decision to make public a matter that was private and aimed at his spiritual well-being. (I don't understand why Bishop Tobin would be surprised as Tobin used his own diocesan paper to call out Kennedy, and generated a great deal of publicity for this feud.

In an interview published on Sunday by the Providence Journal, Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-Rhode Island), son of the late Edward Kennedy, said that “the bishop instructed me not to take Communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me Communion.”

Kennedy also said that Bishop Tobin allegedly 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.”
The congressman declined to say whether he has obeyed the Bishop’s request.

Later in the day, Bishop Tobin issued a statement clarifying the terms of his decision.
“I am disappointed and really surprised that Congressman Patrick Kennedy has chosen to reopen the public discussion about his practice of the faith and his reception of Holy Communion. This comes almost two weeks after the Congressman indicated to local media that he would no longer comment publicly on his faith or his relationship with the Catholic Church,” Bishop Tobin writes. (Was that a before of after you publicly called Kennedy out?)

Bishop Tobin said that on February 21, 2007, he wrote to Congressman Kennedy stating that “in light of the Church's clear teaching, and your consistent actions, therefore, I believe it is inappropriate for you to be receiving Holy Communion and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so.

“My request came in light of the new statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that said, ‘If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to repudiate her definite teachings on moral issues, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain.’”

In the same letter, Bishop Tobin wrote to Congressman Kennedy: "I am writing to you personally and confidentially as a pastor addressing a member of his flock . . . At the present time I have no need or intention to make this a public issue.”

On February 28, 2007, the Congressman responded to the Bishop sating: “I have the utmost respect for the work you do on behalf of the Catholic community in Rhode Island… I understand your pastoral advice was confidential in nature and given with the best intentions for my personal spiritual welfare.”

“I am 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,” the bishop writes in his Sunday statement.

Bishop Tobin explains that he has “no desire” to discuss Congressman Kennedy's spiritual life in public. ( Just a little late with this sentiment.)

“At the same time, I will absolutely respond publicly and strongly whenever he attacks the Catholic Church, misrepresents the teachings of the Church, or issues inaccurate statements about my pastoral ministry. It should be absolutely clear the Congressman himself has once again chosen to make this discussion a matter of public record. In the meantime, I will continue to pray - sincerely and fervently - for his conversion and repentance, and for his personal and spiritual well-being. I wish him well.” (Bishop Tobin might want to consider that Jesus asks for our own personal conversion, not that we pray first for the conversion of others.)


I suspect if Patrick Kennedy's last name was something other than Kennedy that Bishop Tobin would not be quite so quick to 'lash' back.

I'm waiting for Bart Stupak's bishop to remind Bart that his rubbing shoulders with the "C" street crowd, living in their no longer tax exempt apartment building, and leading some of their Thursday night prayer services, may not be fully Catholic either. Especially since some of his "C" street buddies aren't particularly fond of Catholicism, and that Bart's rubbing shoulders with them has led Bart to lie about his connections. Seems to me lieing is supposed to be against Church teaching. Apparently being pro life and anti gay marriage allows one freedom from sins the rest of us not so fully Catholics have to avoid.

The politics of the American Catholic Bishops is getting flat crazy. I include all the bishops in that sentence because it doesn't appear any of them have the balls to stand up and defend the Church of Jesus Christ against the Republican Catholic Church. Once again Bishop Tobin fails to mention Jesus Christ. I wonder why that is. Everything he says is about obedience to the Church. He never mentions faith in Jesus. Maybe for a fully Catholic person obedience to the Church has replaced faith in Jesus. It certainly wouldn't be the first time the emphasis has been on obedience to the Church at the expense of it's Founder. Seems to be something of a recurring heresy.

Bishop Tobin has also been one of the few Bishops who have invited the Legionaries into his diocese. That doesn't surprise me given the Legion's insistence on mindless obedience to the teachings of Maciel and the authority structure of the Legion. Patrick Kennedy's mistake is not so much his stance on abortion as it is his refusal to submit to Tobin. That's why Tobin, unlike some other bishops, is personally unable to leave Kennedy alone. It's become personal, not doctrinal--and now it seems personal for both men. So much for pastoral concern.

I haven't written anything on the main page about the Manhattan Manifesto for a number of reasons. First other bloggers have brilliantly addressed this document , and secondly because I am angry at the steeple jacking of Catholicism by the IRD and other reactionary forces. I also know that what is going on in the States pales in comparison to what these forces are doing in African churches and through them to African culture. I hope readers take the time to read the full PDF document written by Rev. Kapya Kaoma. Bishop Tobin, whether he intends it or not, represents a global strategy perpetrated by financial interests to use Christian religions to infiltrate, exploit and control global cultures. These interests believe their goals place them above the morality they demand from the rest of us. This is why actively gay bishops feel free to bash other gays, adulterous politicians can extol the virtues of heterosexual monogamy, and African ecclesial authorities can castigate western NGO's for subverting their culture while taking fist fulls of money from the IRD to help subvert their cultures.

It's all very very sick and will only get sicker unless more people understand that the culture wars really mask a different kind of war. In this other war, national resources are squandered on obscene levels of military expenditures in wars that can't be won, and it doesn't matter if it's Afghanistan, Darfur, or the Sudan.


  1. I think the website might be more effective if they concentrated on outing hypocritical bishops. Is Tobin forgetting how the bishops forfeited their moral authority over mishandling sexual abuse, or is he thinking that we should let bygones be bygones?


    First off:

    To my mind we need to start a campaign to remove the authorization that clergy can act as civil officials and sign the marriage certificate of the State. If they want to bless unions, fine. But they are using their "privilege" of performing a civil function as a WEDGE in this battle over marriage. And I'm sick of it! I'm also sick of any church assuming it has a veto power over the conscience of a legislator!

    Next off, if necessary, removal of churches from tax-free status. There could be a trigger here. Threaten legislators, lose your tax-free status.

    Final thought. Not sure if many people read the NY Times reporting on this. But when they first put it up (could still be the same), seemed to me they really pussy-footed seeming to report as if it would be normal for a church to make demands of a legislator!

    Why is the bishop not turning the other cheek?

  3. Colleen, if you can kick your link for me back to the prior blog.... The one up now is part of a protest by TPM regulars about ongoing software and spam blog problems!

    The previous blog of mine is more apt for your site - and given the TPM software changes, it's unlikely that I'll be trying to post anything there for a while. (I just got the previous one in "under the wire".)

  4. Good question, why is Bishop Tobin decidedly a bully toward Kennedy, yet claims he is pastoral? Somehow, bully does not equate with being pastoral to my VI Catholic indoctrinated understanding, nor to my post VII liberated consciousness.

    The answer is: Tobin is not being pastoral, but is being political. Huge difference Mr. Bully Bishop!

    The Bishops need reminding that their tax-free status clock is winding down quickly each time they abuse their "religious freedom" to impose it upon others for a political agenda.

  5. These same type of low-life spiritual entities made it possible for Hitler to get into power. These types were right there with Hitler, right next to him as he rose to power. The Bishops have gone astray and need to wake up! They need true conversion to Jesus Christ if they dare to call themselves "shepherds of Christ."

  6. This discussion reminds me of another time when obedience, obedience to a bishop, dominated an era. It was in the early days of Vatican II and the civil rights movement.

    Bishop Tobin rightly and smartly limited his decree about communion and Representative Patrick Kennedy to his diocese in Rhode Island.

    Back in the early 60’s I recall the bishop of Mobil, Alabama issued a decree trying to ban clergy and religious from marching in the Civil Rights March in Selma. At the same time other bishops were encouraging clergy and religious to go to Selma and march. Obedience still ruled in those days, but bishops were taking different stances. While the issues are different there are bishops who have not banned politicians from taking communion in their dioceses. Back then in the face of such conflict, it was said a doubtful law or order did not apply. So many clergy and religious marched off to Selma.

    So, Bishop Tobin has some power, but it is limited. Back in the 60’s, I think, this was the beginning of many of us breaking out of the lock obedience kept on us. Claiming our rights as baptized Catholics and Christians, we began to think for ourselves.

  7. Threatening Catholic politicians with denial of sacraments?
    Inserts to bulletins from bishops telling Catholics how to vote?
    Collections in Church to support political causes?
    Bishops sending OUR money to political causes-even in other states?
    Paid Lobbyists in DC, paid with OUR money?
    And more......
    What will it take to have the RC church lose its tax exemption, and how to get this started?

  8. coolmom, in California progressive groups-mostly gay- went after the tax exempt status of the LDS church. I'm not sure where that stands as of the moment, but I certainly believe it played a part in the LDS church supporting the gay rights initiative in Salt Lake City. Although this initiative did not include civil marriage, it was a real turn around for the LDS church.

    Just recently DC removed the tax emempt status for the "C" street property, so precedent has been set.

  9. Good point TheraP on removing civil status for religious marriages. As to changing the side bar, that is computer generated from Google. The best I can do is change blogs for you, otherwise the latest posting is what is displayed.

    Butterfly, Hitler wasn't the only law and order fascist with whom Church leaders stood shoulder to shoulder. There have been numerous examples since world war II. This represents a particular personal mind set far more than it does a religious philosophy.

    Unfortunately, the clerical system seems to attract this particular mindset like a magnet. It's a major reason we need another way to train and find our spiritual leadership.

  10. Evangelical protestant leaders have been engaged in this sort of malarkey for years. A minority of Catholic bishops--though even one is too many--are doing it now. But evangelical churches (which are also tax exempt) are all about this malarkey. We Catholics get angry--and rightly so--because we don't expect this political agenda coming from catholic dioceses, but evangelicals do expect it to come from their pastors, and they get it. Spread the blame on this one. These pastors are funding anti-everything initiatives since the Regan/Anita Bryant era and are calling out liberal leaning politicians left and right.

  11. I removed that other blog, so no problem now. (it wasn't showing up at TPM anyway - due to the problems there!)

    Spiritual leadership:

    Clement of Alexandria: a hidden hierarchy of the "grace filled" as opposed to the visible hierarchy of ministries.

    (Clement had these concerns around the year 215!)

    It seems there's always been a tension between the people outwardly ordained and those whose lives result in the indwelling Trinity. And that, colleen, is what you're pointing toward.

    Where are the holy ones in our midst? That's the question we need to asking ourselves. Along with how do we seek this indwelling, the emergence of the Divine Life, in our own lives? That is to say, in the microcosm of the church. (Monasticism, particularly the tradition of Prayer of the Heart - especially among the Orthodox and the Fathers before the East/West split - have preserved this tradition best, I think.)

  12. We would help ourselves out by changing the terminology of this debate, which has been set by right-wing bishops. I'd argue that it's best not to use their term "withholding communion" or "politely requesting that (Kennedy) refrain from taking Communion. It is Tobin that doesn't want Kennedy taking communion so he is, in effect, excommunicating him. That term puts the responsibily for the action back on Tobin, not on Kennedy. Of course, Tobin will say Kennedy excommunicated himself by not being in line with church teaching, but let's call a spade a spade here. Let's turn the tables on the right and chage the terms of this debate: Tobin excommunicated Kennedy--he is not letting his priests give Kennedy communion, so he is excommunicating him. This puts the onus back on Tobin.

  13. The Bishops are blind-sighted by their own lust for power. They mistakenly believe they can take it away from others when they never can claim authority over anyone, and least of all over one's conscience. And if they are priest should be serving, not dictating. That seems reason enough that they are magnets for fascists, dictators, autocrats and every kind of bigot out there who also desires power. Divide and conquer is the rule of their heart. Birds of the same flock fly together. The sin of lust for power and control seems to be the plight of Bishops like Tobin. Very unchrist-like and not a good example to follow if you are a true Christian and trying to follow Christ and bring His teachings into the world that needs His light.

    Bishop Tobin was on MSNBC's Hardball, speaking of balls. Chris Matthews did a good job of hardballing BT.

    As a teaching authority the Church is overstepping its bounds by involving itself with the law. It's not the Church's job to change the law. It is to spread the Gospels of Jesus Christ.

  14. I too saw Bishop Tobin on Hardball last nite. I would say it has been a long time since the bishop has had anyone speak truth to power in his direction. Wonder who Chris Matthew's bishop is and will Chris now be on the "no communion" list??
    Waiting to find out if husband will be removed from the Eucharistic Minister list for writing to the newspaper. All names are to be sent to the Bishop in Maine for new vetting. Since the lady in Lewiston was removed, he may be checking others who wrote to their local newspaper.
    ps. I think the Mormons pay taxes on their properties. One kudo in their direction.

  15. Chris Mathews asked the same question I have repeatedly asked and never gotten an answer for: If you believe abortion is murder what should be the sanctions in LAW for this crime?

    Tobin wanted to have his cake and eat it too. Back pedaling on bishops not having expertise to write their morality into secular law is a cop out plain and simple.

    The truth is most Americans do not see abortion as criminal, even though they may see it as immoral. Mathews was correct in trying to point this out to Tobin. It is as Mathews says, the fundamental crack in the pro life crusade and one that Tobin refused to address. Until bishops are willing to put their entire thinking on the line about the LAW as it applies to abortion, they should keep out of the politics of the LAW.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support in Maine. I certainly pray that nothing happens to mr coolmom, but if it does he's in very good, very Catholic, very loving company.

  16. None of this is surprising. Like a dog backed into a corner, the bishops feel the need to show their teeth and snarl. They know they've lost the trust of a huge number of Catholics; they want to create the appearance of having some power and relevance, so they try strong-arming politicians by reverting to the rather medieval practice of denying the eucharist to rulers in order to achieve political ends.

  17. Prickliest Pear, isn't that the solution which worked so wonderfully well for Henry VIII? Sure brought Henry into line.

    Do these kind of control freak men ever learn?

  18. "Just recently DC removed the tax emempt status for the "C" street property, so precedent has been set."

    They did? Good news, though first I have heard of it.

    The Family/CStreet is the very model of an Opus Dei front operation. Remember: the vast majority of their estimated 1 million global membership is from their "Collaborator/Cooperators" -= who need not even be Christian, much less Catholic!

    I 100% agree with TheraP that: 1) church tax-free status MUST be stripped away for violating church/state seperation, and 2) strip priests of the power to act as 'notaries' for the state in performing marriages.

    If marriage in all religious traditions is purely sacramental...fine. Then LIVE IT! Bless said marriages in the purely religious context. And leave leave the civil recognitio of the civil contract of the wedded parties (for property, inheritance, et. al.) with the State - where it belongs.

    That tends to solve the 'problem' of gay marriage! It takes it away from the Church, since it is then left with only the (proper!) sacramental function. As they would not be licensed by the State, they would then have no say in so called 'civil marriages'.

    Not that they should anyway.....

    As to the Manhattan Declaration.....its no surprise. But you may learn one thing from reading the names of the clery who signed:

    All the Catholic ones are members of or friendly collaborators with Opus Dei. The same applies to ALL the non-Catholic signers, as they have imbibed the same "Leaven" - official Collaborators or not. we know:)

  19. Anon, I kind of suspected most of the signatories were part of or rubbing shoulders with Opus Dei. I knew the Catholics were.