As you may know if you've been following the news over the past several days, there is a very public battle going on between Bishop Tobin of Rhode Island and Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Ted Kennedy. Patrick Kennedy criticized the American bishops for opposing any health-care reform legislation that would fund abortion. In turn, Bishop Tobin took Kennedy to task for putting politics ahead of his faith and went so far as to say that he should not present himself for Holy Communion.
Sadly, too many of our Catholic politicians cast the teachings of their church aside in favor of political expediency or gain. Coming to Rep. Kennedy's defense was Congressman Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, who is another Catholic politician in name only who totally doesn't get it. It is the teaching of the Catholic Church that abortion is an intrinsic evil. A politician cannot say he or she is personally opposed to abortion and then support or sponsor any legislation that protects the so-called right to choose (choose what? infanticide? ) Rep. Murphy went on to say that a pries refused to "bless" his marriage because of his public stance on abortion.
What does it mean to be Catholic? It doesn't mean picking and choosing what we will and will not obey. For one who puts the will of God ahead of his or her own will, it's not difficult to be obedient, especially if that obedience is borne out of love for God. I'm sure Bishop Tobin did not enjoy publicly taking Patrick Kennedy to task but he would be remiss in his duties as a faithful shepherd if had simply ignored the Congressman, particularly when his scandal was public. We can all hope and pray that elected officials like Kennedy and Murphy will come to see the precious treasure we have in the Eucharist and how nothing or no one can be permitted to profane the Lord by receiving Him while not in a state of grace. It's not possible to call one's self a faithful Catholic while openly flouting the direction of a bishop. Bishop Tobin deserves our support for his courage in going where not many bishops and other clergy have had the courage to go.