Recently, Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island has clashed with the Catholic Church and Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence regarding the congressman’s public support of a health care reform bill which supports public funding for abortions.
Congressman Kennedy’s public support for the right to choose abortion and his criticism of the Catholic Church’s opposition to the current health care reform bill is in clear contradiction to his claim that he is a practicing Catholic. At this juncture, the bishop would be negligent in not responding to, and caring for a sheep that has wandered from the flock into dangerous surroundings!
All of this has now made national news. Congressman Kennedy claimed in an interview dated November 22, 2009, that Bishop Tobin has forbid him to receive Holy Communion. You may read Bishop Tobin’s response to Kennedy’s claims here.
Catholics should be concerned not so much with the their ability to receive the sacraments, but with whether or not they are properly disposed to receive them. Christ’s sanctifying and saving grace is conferred through the sacraments when the recipient is properly disposed to receive that grace, i.e., receiving the Eucharist in the state of mortal is not the proper disposition toward receiving the Sacrament. The same goes for the sacrament of Confession (Penance, Reconciliation). The recipient asking to be absolved is not properly disposed to the sacrament if he or she is not sincerely contrite, and willing to repent and make every effort to avoid sin in the future.
Discussions on local radio talk shows has served to reveal that many professed Catholics, at least in and around the Diocese of Providence have much to learn about the Faith they claim to be practicing. A professed Catholic is not at liberty to pick and choose which Church doctrine he or she believes and follows, and what he or she does not believe, and thus does not follow. The Church has one teaching authority, the Magisterium, whose teachings are the true teachings received from Jesus Christ and passed on through apostolic succession over the centuries up to the present day.
We cannot profess the Catholic Faith and then do what we want concerning abortion, contraception, and reception of the sacraments etc.!
As Catholics, and I include myself, we need to spend much more time learning about and practicing our Faith, then on doing things that do little to enhance the quality of our life here on earth, much less our eternal life!
This is a wake up call for the Catholic Church. We are in dire need of better ways in which to educate the faithful and evangelize the truth. We need to pray more often and more fervently, not only for ourselves, but for our Holy Father, our bishops and priests and all the clergy and religious, all catechists, all political leaders, and everyone throughout the world who does not know Christ, or does not think that Christ is essential in their lives!
Let us pray for Bishop Tobin, that he remain close to our Lord, and continue to courageously and boldly proclaim and stand by the truth as he shepherds his flock! And let us pray for Congressman Kennedy, and all Catholics, whom have strayed and are wandering, that they may safely return home!