Did you hear? A bishop denied Patrick Kennedy communion because of his abortion stance. My thought? It’s about time:
A month of harsh words between Rep. Patrick Kennedy and a strident critic, Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin, escalated Sunday when the bishop acknowledged asking Kennedy not to receive Holy Communion because of the Democratic lawmaker’s support for abortion rights.
The bishop’s attempt to publicly shame Kennedy comes just a few months after the death of his father, Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Tobin told The Associated Press in an interview Sunday that he’s praying for the younger Kennedy, who has been in and out of treatment for substance abuse, and said Kennedy has been acting ”erratically.”
”He attacked the church, he attacked the position of the church on health care, on abortion, on funding,” Tobin said. ”And that required that I respond. I don’t go out looking for these guys. I don’t go out picking these fights.”
Their dispute began in October when Kennedy criticized the nation’s Catholic bishops for threatening to oppose an overhaul of the nation’s health care system unless lawmakers included tighter restrictions on abortion, which have since been added to the House version of the bill. Tobin said he felt Kennedy made an unprovoked attack on the church and demanded an apology.
Since then, their feud has played out in public. Tobin, who has said he might have gone into politics were he not ordained, has written sharp public letters questioning Kennedy’s faith and saying his position is scandalous and unacceptable to the church. Kennedy has said his disagreement with the church hierarchy does not make him any less of a Catholic.
There’s no question whose side the New York Times is taking here. They play the “poor Patrick; his father died” card. They imply that Tobin is just playing politics…but what other position should a bishop or for that matter, any Christian hold?
Here’s the reality: supporting abortion is not compatible with Christianity. For that matter, neither is supporting gay marriage. If you are a politician who’s pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage and you say you’re a Christian, then your choices are to:
1) Reject your faith, which makes it clear you can’t hold those positions.
2) Reject your political positions.
3) Live in hypocrisy — which is the option most of them take. The church should be far less accepting of it.
4) In some cases, you can try to buy the church off so they will give the thumbs up to your transgressions. Don’t think it doesn’t happen. Liberals like George Soros are pouring money into churches in an attempt to corrupt them and sometimes it works.
We actually have some Christian denominations in this country, like the Episcopalians in some places and churches infected with black liberation theology, that have gotten so far off the path that we should be sending missionaries in to convert them back to Christianity because what they’re practicing ain’t it.
You might say to me, “John, how dare you say such a thing. You’re not perfect, are you?” Absolutely not. I’m a poor, wretched sinner — and I mean what I say. I’m not saying that to make you think, “Wow, he’s so humble; he’s a really good guy who’s better than almost everyone else — but yet, he says he’s a sinner.” I’m saying that because I am a sinner. I have committed sins both great and small and no matter how much stronger my faith grows, I will surely continue to do so in the future. That’s part of the state of the human condition and I am not above it.
That being said, if the church won’t stand up for the teachings of Christ and the things they know are right, then how can people trust the church? Regardless of political correctness, regardless of trends, regardless of which political party happens to be in power, the church is supposed to stand strong for Christian beliefs. If the world isn’t upset with the Christian church, then that’s a strong sign that the church doesn’t have the courage of its convictions.
If Christian beliefs can simply be shoved aside because of political correctness, the sneers of some political columnist, the contempt of Hollywood, or the complaints of some interest group, how can people believe they are sincerely held? People are not drawn to lukewarm spiritual mush spat out by men without chests, men who care more about being liked by the corrupt than telling the truth. That’s a message a lot of Christian leaders need to start taking to heart. At least Thomas Tobin gets it.