Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Bishop Thomas Tobin, the bishop who barred Patrick Kennedy from receiving communion said in an interview with CNN that he did so because he just cant understand how a catholic, any catholic, even a legislator, can take the stand on abortion as a legal choice for women that Kennedy has taken.

By saying he "can't understand" how Kennedy could vote contrary to catholic doctrine, it' a tacit admission on the part of bishop Tobin that he either doesn't have any understanding of the establishment clause of the first amendment or he does has no respect for it , and doesnt care, except when the Catholic church is using it to avoid paying taxes.

It is either arrogance or ignorance on the part of Tobin since he shows he has no understanding nor respect for the fact that its Kennedy's obligation is to serve, not Catholics or the church, ( that is Tobin's obligation, not Kennedy's) but the vast majority of his constituents regardless of their individual religious beliefs. And Tobin's admission that he can't understand how Kennedy can justify his position on abortion as a legislator just re-enforces the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson and the founders who wrote the establishment clause to specifically deny the church from having any official influence on the affairs of state.

But Tobin doesn't want to understand this. Or he does and doesnt care. He seems to think its Kennedy's obligation to vote according to church doctrine and he practically said so in so many words.

If this is the official position of the church then they should make it clear to catholic members of congress that they are either to vote according to catholic church doctrine or resign from congress, since, based on Tobin's point of view, no member of congress can or should vote for legislation which the church does not approve.

If the church hierarchy has the courage of their convictions they should issue such a proclimation and then they wont have to wonder how a catholic member of congress could vote for a bill that the church opposes.

The church is certainly free to make such a pronunciation and catholic members of congress are certainly free to make their own decisions as to whether they want to remain in congress and vote according to their constituents wishes or leave if those wishes are in conflict with church doctrine.

But the church cant have it both ways. If they want to lobby for or against legislation ( and they do -- they have a lobbying effort in Washington D.C. staffed with 350 people) then let them renounce the establishment clause and with it their tax exempt status on which their tax exemption is solely based.

On the other hand if church hierarchy like Bishop Tobin wish to keep their tax exempt status it, then let them understand that the same establishment clause they use to keep from paying taxes comes from the same constitution Patrick Kennedy took oath to defend. Then let them decide where they stand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post!

The conflict between what the Catholic Church is doing and American law couldn't be laid out more clearly.

I think the public needs to see a lot more analysis like this.