Why am I giving the public 'dialogue' between Congressman Kennedy and his Bishop, Thomas Tobin, such attention? This topic has everything to do with our Roman Catholic Identity. More than the public rebuke of dissenting Catholic political figures, the dialogue serves to instruct all Catholics and shed some light on common misapprehensions. There are some real gems here, and it is encouraging to hear a bishop speak with clarity and...spine.
Bishop Tobin appeared as a guest on the WPRO Dan Yorke show this past Wednesday and candidly discussed the public ongoing exchange between himself and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, falling short of calling him an outright liar. But Dan Yorke connected the dots by quoting Kennedy himself in a recap.
Says Rep. Kennedy:
Whenever I'd choose to discuss with him I would hope that it would remain between us, that's what I've been most concerned with.What? Bishop Tobin reiterated the fact that his hand was forced by the unwarranted attack by Kennedy and his continued public comments and letters. There was no 'agreement' of confidentiality, especially whe the Congressman sent the Bishop an open letter and sent a copy to the Press. The meeting between them which was subsequently 'postponed' was to be held at a busy Providence restaurant at Noon today--at the Congressman's request. How private could this have been? The bishop noted that within ten minutes every satellite truck in Rhode Island would have been there. The fact that any confidences were violated "is preposterous".
I'd initially agreed on a meeting with him and provided that we not debate this in public in terms of my personal faith or things of that sort and, unfortunately, he hasn't kept to that agreement. And that's been very disconcerting to me. I don't think this is something that is open for public debate
As I said from the point of view of having him discuss things that I think are of a more personal nature, I think that that's unfortunate. But I'm, as I've said, I'm not going to engage that any more because, like I've said, I'm not. That's not something I brought up and I'd prefer to keep that between us.
Bishop Tobin fielded questions concerning broader issues of identity, the fallacy of pro-choice catholics, and denying Communion.
Bishop Tobin on being Catholic, "Darnit, it means something!":
Nobody is forced to be a Catholic. If you freely choose to be a Catholic it means that you believe certain things, you do certain things, you understand and accept the teachings of the church, you understand the disciplines of the Church, you lead a sacramental life. if you cannot do all that in conscience than you should perhaps feel free to go somewhere else. But thats not what we're trying to do. We're trying to invite people into the Church but at the same time saying, "if you are a Catholic, darnit, it means something".Bishop Tobin on what it means to be a Catholic:
That whole question "what does it mean to be a catholic?" it means something you cannot say you're Catholic and be pro abortion, it's false advertising you cannot have it both ways.Should pro-choice catholics be taking communion, going to Church in good faith? What should they be doing?
They should be really examining their conscience, praying really hard and try to understand why the church so consistently and unanimously says abortion is a terrible evil. There's a reason we say those things because we think it is.But not telling them to stay out?
No, we're inviting them in but inviting them in to a real, strong and purified union with the Church--and same thing with Congressman Kennedy. Patrick, please, we're not trying to drive you further away. Patrick, come back. The doors are open, our arms are open, think about what you're doing. Congressman this is about your spiritual well-being, your spiritual growth and I want to do everything I can to help that.