Rep. Patrick Kennedy asked to decline Communion

CORRECTION: According to a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Washington, neither Patrick Kennedy nor Kathleen Sebelius have been denied … Continued

CORRECTION: According to a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Washington, neither Patrick Kennedy nor Kathleen Sebelius have been denied Communion. They have been asked not to approach the altar to receive communion, because of their views on abortion.

By William Wan

Just wanted to point out some interesting stories over the weekend about Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI), who has become the latest politician to be denied asked not to receive Holy Communion because of his views on abortion.

The news came first from a story yesterday in the Providence Journal, which then inspired a flurry of takes on the whole Communion/abortion brouhaha. All the attention then prompted a strong response from Kennedy’s priest, which included a portions of the letter the priest sent Kennedy in 2007 that began the whole thing in the first place.

The Vatican memo endorsing the practice was drafted by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict.

In 2003, Democratic Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, a Catholic, was asked not to take Communion by Bishop Raymond Burke. After he became archbishop of St. Louis, Burke said famously that if then-presidential candidate John Kerry came to his Mass he would tell him not to take Communion.

Others who have been excluded asked not to participate in Communion? Former California Gov. Gray Davis, former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, and Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who talked about it to the Washington Post. in this interview.

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  • pinecone

    Please note that Kennedy was NOT banned or denied Communion. Yes, you did read that correctly. Bishop Tobin did NOT say to him, “You may not receive Communion.” He said, “…I believe it is inappropriate for you to be receiving Holy Communion and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so.” It was a private REQUEST, not an order.As to you other commenters, please try to understand the basics of the Constitution. The First Amendment forbids CONGRESS from establishing a religion. It does not forbid bishops or clergy of any denomination from doing their jobs with anyone in their flocks. If a politician is out of line with his or her church on any issue and that person’s clergyman deals with it, that’s a private matter between the politician and the church and has nothing to do with the Constitution or the state or tax-exempt status.

  • ccthomas1

    I am neither Catholic nor a supporter of the church’s views on abortion. But the church has the right to state its views and to say to members like Patrick Kennedy, “your position on this issue is not consistent with our moral teachings.” I don’t see any difference between this and the NAACP or NRA or AARP saying to a political officeholder that his or her views conflict with those of their organizations. It is all speech protected by the First Amendment, and this kind of interaction is the essence of democratic governance.

  • mtnman3919

    Funny a former Nazi and now Pope would ban abortion so stringently. Just makes me wander if he still supports genocide as I’m certain he didn’t deny communion for that reason.

  • grandpaleaman

    The Catholic Church is lobbying against the Health Care bill unless it contains anti-abortion language that THEY approve. Now we hear that the church is withholding communion in order to, hopefully, influence Rep. Kennedy’s vote, regardless where his constituents stand. It just sounds way to close to a violation of the Establishment Clause, which was put in place so that a powerful and wealthy religious organization could not influence Legislation.

  • Maerzie

    The problem, “Pinecone”, that it is NOT the duty of the Church to “legislate consciences!” It is the Church’s duty to instruct its members in the laws of God and building an “informed conscience”, but the Church is too busy counting its money, closing Catholic schools, keeping its priests celibate so they can’t get married and cost more expenditures for their wives and kids, judging people’s consciences, and maintaining a safe and secret haven and legal support for sex perverts who haven’t been courageous enough to come out of the “other” closet!!The Church should do its job, which it has shirked for years, if not centuries! A conscience is a personal, intimacy between God and the instructed individual’s conscience! No priest has the right to judge ANYONE’s conscience!ALSO, there is no reason, EXCEPT financial, that priests aren’t allowed to get married. All other denominations of religions allow marriage and their clergy are many times MORE busy and dutiful of their members than the ones using “THE excuse”! The Church has made itself a MESS, and is pushing members away because of its hypocrisies!!

  • RayinDC

    Here’s my comment, in verse. Go to I (like Rep. Kennedy) believe that abortion is not goodBack in the “good old days” when States were allowed to outlaw abortion,We don’t want to go back to those days againI believe in separation of Church and State:You have the legal right to withhold sacrament,

  • Maerzie

    Christ did NOT stick His nose into the politics of Caesar! He said: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God, what is GOD’S!!” He didn’t run around changing all the laws that He didn’t agree with! He gave each person a free will and a conscience to decide for his own soul! If the Catholic Church is too busy to teach and assist the formation of good consciences, then I guess they know they did a poor job and now want to be EVERYBODY’s consciences! Sorry GUYS; it doesn’t work that way!! Your job is to do what Christ intended you to do, NOT dole out the “sins” with your pick and choose rules for individual consciences.

  • Maerzie

    “Pinecone writes:.(Bishop Tobin has said to Patrick Kennedy):..’I believe it is inappropriate for you to be receiving Holy Communion and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so,’ as a private REQUEST, not an order.”How sick to deny Patrick Kennedy the Body and Blood of Christ in order to TRY to control the formation of laws governning all citizens of our country!I would receive Holy Communion anyway! This priest cannot control or govern any individual’s conscience. Patrick Kennedy is no doubt a wiser and BETTER Catholic than this priest/Bishop in trying to justly handle his political decision in this matter.If this priest/Bishop wants to try this cruel, childish control, perhaps he wants to be the one who accepts the responsibility when the Church loses its tax exempt condition for NOT maintaining separation of Church and State!

  • Maerzie

    However, “eastcoastcommentator”, Patrick Kennedy is NOT condoning the murder of abortion! He is supporting a health care bill which will preserve many more thousands of lives than the few murders which will be committed by lazy people who use murder instead of thinking ahead and using birth control or self-control! And, regardless of the insane inclusion of murder in a “HEALTH(?) CARE (?)” bill, those same lazy, unconcionscionable people, who are being considered in this bill, would otherwise find a more dangerous way to perform their OWN abortion or have it done by a hard-up, unprincipled person or low-class “doctor(?)”, probably bringing about another unnecessary death, as has been done for centuries! Not passing the law will NOT prevent this kind of person from killing their baby! If Patrick Kennedy would NOT sign this bill because of that inclusion, would he then also be responsible for all the people who die because they could not afford health care?The decision and/or justification of EITHER is ALL that can be on the conscience of Patrick Kennedy. Anyone else is responsible for his individual choice and decision also! The Bishops would like to put the weight of the world and all the guilt of the conscionless and their inadequate catechetical instruction and EVERYTHING onto Patrick Kennedy, so they can PRETEND they’re “OFF THE HOOK”!! However, they have enough education and conscience to KNOW their guilt, but they will never admit it while they have a “patsy”, IF EVER!!

  • Maerzie

    Also remember, “eastcoastcommentator”, that Christ told the accusers of the adulterous woman, whose judgment wanted to stone her: “Let the man among you who has no sin be the first to cast a stone at her.” And, of course, every accuser drifted away, as they were just as sinful or worse, and had no business being HER conscience!

  • dragongild

    It seems to me that this constitutes “political speech” on the part of the Catholic church and doesn’t this make the church a Political Action Committee? I think their tax-exempt status should be revoked. Other churches have lost their tax-exempt status for the same actions – a Catholic church parish should be no different.

  • grandpaleaman

    It does seem to violate the Establishment Clause. It looks like all the fears of the Catholics taking over the country when JFK was running for President are now justified. I guess I have to start asking for the religious affiliations of the people who are running for office in my district. I’m not a Catholic and don’t want the Catholic platform shoved down my throat! What they are doing is coercion of our representatives, and it is a violation of the separation of church and state.

  • CommonSense12

    I think Congressman Patrick Kennedy should go right ahead and take communion. This is a matter between him and God; and if he feels it’s the right thing to do; he should go right ahead.A Bishop may have a different view, and that is fine. It is just that — a Bishop’s view and opinion.The opinion that really matters is that between Congressman Kennedy and God.And God would welcome Patrick Kennedy’s observation and participation.Among other things, Mr. Kennedy is doing God’s work here among us all, and his participation in Holy Communion is all part of that.Please go right ahead, Mr. Kennedy. We all are with you 100% — in every way, and all ways.Thank you.

  • cprferry

    “I think Congressman Patrick Kennedy should go right ahead and take communion. This is a matter between him and God; and if he feels it’s the right thing to do; he should go right ahead.You seem mistaken of the Catholic faith. One is called to act in good conscious, which is between self and God and neighbor, and ones formation of conscious toward God’s will is communal, but that does not mean the Truth is bendable or that parts can be ignored.The Bishop’s view is the teaching of the diocese, in line with the larger Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Church and successors of a knowledge given by Christ himself through his life, scriptures, Pentecost and Tradition and granted full authority by Christ to articulate and share the Truth.Bishop Tobin is correct to teach Kennedy about the faith and its teachings and urge to examine his conscious.

  • jonweiss1

    Well, after all the whining from the left, I find it odd that they are now attacking the clergy for making a decision on Church matters. The liberals in this country have long said that the Church has no place in the law or politics. Also, that per Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, (they claim falsely) that there is to be a “wall of seperation” between church and state. Never mind that Jefferson wrote that letter to assure the Danbury Baptists that the government would stay out of church business, nothing more. But now liberals feel that the legal minds have every right to condemn the church without consequence, while ministers face government sanctions for speaking out on politics. Just another example of the left wing standard of enforcing the double standard.

  • jlhare1

    I’m not Catholic, but it seems to me that the basis for Tobin’s actions (and those of other bishops) is flimsy. None of the politicians who have been refused or urged to stop taking Communion have had an abortion. So far as I know, none of their wives has, either. They support the legal right to abortion, but I don’t think any of them have encouraged people to get the procedure.

  • cprferry

    “I (like Rep. Kennedy) believe that abortion is not goodIf that were truly the case, Rep. Kennedy and yourself would support restrictions on the federal funding of abortions, which without Stupak-Pitts would have not kept status-quo but greatly expanded the access and affordability of abortions.If that were truly the case, Rep. Kennedy and yourself would not merely excuse abortions, but strongly, clearly and sincerely denounce the practice.If that were truly the case, Rep. Kennedy and yourself would be introducing legislation to address the underlying the issues that lead to abortions, which are the culture’s views on sex and its separation from the respect and dignity for self, spouse, society, life and the Creator.

  • cprferry

    “This priest cannot control or govern any individual’s conscience.Are you not your brother’s keeper? Are you not called to love your brother and instruct him to live in a manner that will allow him to enter heaven? Will you refuse to clarify the Church teaching? Will you allow your brother to encourage others to practice his sin?

  • Maerzie

    A Bishop is only a priest who has kissed the right butts and done the right brown-nosing, just as in the secular world. There is so much politics in the priesthood that rank actually doesn’t mean very much at all. The only difference is that a Bishop has a broader congregation, so, more responsibilities, but he also has plenty of help to accomplish those dutues.”CPRFerry has asked: Are you not your brother’s keeper? Are you not called to love your brother and instruct him to live in a manner that will allow him to enter heaven? Will you refuse to clarify the Church teaching? Will you allow your brother to encourage others to practice his sin?I am not called to be anyone else’s CONSCIENCE or JUDGE!! especially not a person like Patrick Kennedy, who has, no doubt, had just as much or MORE Catholic teaching and assistance with learning God’s laws for his conscience development as you or I! There is only ONE PERSON Who will be doing that, and that is God Himself!I do believe though that God WILL harshly judge the failing Bishops and priests for not properly instructing and building strong consciences in the masses of Catholics, as is their PRIMARY duty and obligation! The closing of Catholic gradeschools throughout the entire nation is their collective failed responsibility and they will certainly have to answer for it and all its aftermath! Instead of spending some of its wealth for educational good, the GREED in the Church has become its “god”! In fact, it has become more and more difficult to see ANYTHING “Christlike” in the current sinfulness of our Church leaders. Also, the FARCE being used to continue mandating celibacy for our priests is another one of the BIGGEST public sins, which will be answerable to God!

  • Maerzie

    CPRFerry~~ Obviously, you do not pray the Confiteor at the beginning of Mass (now in English), and the rest of the preparation prayers of repentence and forgiveness before Communion with the congregation. Please tend to your own conscience and your own way of manipulating or understanding Christ’s intentions. The Church has already made a joke of everything Christ tried to teach while on this earth. In fact, he never mandated the Apostles/priests to be celibate either because he knew that God created them as sexual beings! Course, if all the priests had wives and children, the Church wouldn’t have all its wealth and worldly riches, regardless of the phoney reasons they pretend! I think probably only Paul was celibate, and it sounds like that decision may have followed being jilted. If the Church had not decided to mandate celibacy back in Medieval days, we would now have many more very excellent priests, and the priesthood would not have become the haven for all the weirdo sexual predators causing defamation to my Church’s reputation! Of course, no one would ever question these sickos as to why they aren’t getting married, so where’s a BETTER place to hide??! Instead, the great “consciences” of pastors, Bishops, cardinals, and the Pope(s) have hidden these grievous sins and aftermaths and continued their little game of celibacy, stockpiling the money saved by thwarting God’s intentions for the nature of man! So, the Church rapidly goes downhill now, with only enough priests for the “rich” parishes, while the more needy (less wealthy) parishes do without real counsel or teaching, using only subs. Bishops always favor the wealthier parishes with more nurturing (priests and nuns) to keep up the flow of “MONEY”, also known as their “god”, as in the First commandment! The rest of their waste of money now goes to paying victims and the attorneys’ fees for the weirdos the priesthood has protected all these years with their abnormal rules! The Church’s lengthy plan has finally backfired because people are allowed to “think” nowadays, instead of simply accepting the brainwashing!You sound much more like one of the older, brainwashed sect. May God help you BEGIN to USE the brain He gave you for the good of the Church you are helping to destroy and for His REAL glory, instead of the brainwashing games you now still believe and continue to play/inflict!We need a Pope sent by God, not elected by the politics of an impotent, diseased, and brainwashed clergy! One who has the gift of the Good Shepherd, not the damaging types who have torn the Church to shreds by their GREED for WORLDLY RICHES!!

  • cprferry

    Maerzie,It is a sin to receive Communion while knowingly in the state of mortal sin. Those who do so are defiling the body and blood of Christ.To the larger but related point…

  • Maerzie

    Thank you for your very thoughtful article, “commonsense12”!I have always thought how very two-faced it is for ANYONE to come to the dinner of the Lord at Mass, and then leave without eating! “AS IF” ANYONE else receiving Communion “IS” worthy!!?? Which “ONE” are you, O worthy one??

  • cprferry


  • Maerzie

    How sad that there are people like CPRFerry who think their twisted consciences and rules must govern everyone else. Sin is between each person’s conscience and God, and with the Catholic Church closing and/or condensing all the Catholic schools there are almost no young people who even know what a Catechism is anymore while the priests count all the money they “saved”!! How hypocritical and convenient to lay all the priestly dities of helping youngsters develop a sound conscience onto a “catechism” they will never even see or have anyone to even teach them anything about it. I don’t hear this “holier than thou” CPRFerry chastising any of the priests (Including bishops, archbishops, cardinals, popes) for shirking their duties and closing the Catholic schools, hiding the sinful priests and causing scandal by pretending the sexual abuses weren’t happening, besides paying millions to try to make amends for their carelessness. CPRFerry is barking up the wrong trees by trying to say MY conscience is wrong! Christ also allowed priests to get married, which would supply plenty of good men to teach the children and send priests into the “poor” parishes besides always finding enough priests to send 2 or 3 to the wealthy parishes that the REAL bishops visit for confirmation, while the poor parishes always get only an auxiliary “bishop”, etc. I could go on and on, including how many of the churches are no longer “allowed” to ring the bell at the proper of the Mass so people are aware to come out of their doldrums and pay attention instead of SITTING throughout the most sacred moments. Also, every good, old song has been deleted from the choir books and we are condemned to singing only certain “theme” songs during Mass, another divider, which has pushed away so many Catholics to other religions whick kept their old familiar music, which included the alto, tenor, and bass voices.. The entire mess has been caused BY the Church itself, which better start asking itself: “WHAT WOULD JESUS DO??” He certainly would not be living and preaching this phoney, greedy pretend “holiness” that pervades what USED TO BE the Catholic Church!! It is a sad sickness that will take a REAL man to change!!