November 26, 2009

Using Religion As a Weapon

As a former member of the Roman Catholic faith, I (Jim) know that there are plenty of people devoted to the rituals and practices of the church who don't totally agree with the church's increasingly militant stand on political issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. It appears that the church is ready to withold the opportunity for full participation in the Eucharist (communion), perhaps the most sacred rite of Roman Catholicism, from people who don't sign up for their political agenda. This sickens us and makes us think that the Catholic Church needs to decide what it wants to be, a structure under which people can worship God, or a political and social service organizaton. It appears to be moving strongly in the direction of the latter. Here is an excerpt from an essay posted on the blog "Unite the Fight" that details the reasons for this concern.

In what Sen. Patrick Kennedy has admitted was a long time coming, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island wrote the Catholic senator an email informing him that he will not be allowed to partake of the Eucharist, or what is commonly known as Communion, because of his support of reproductive rights, in particular when it comes to health care reform.

In a statement issued Sunday, Tobin made known he informed Kennedy in February 2007 that it would be "inappropriate" for him to continue receiving the fundamental Catholic sacrament, "and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so."

The bishop is not deterred. The most recent development occurred Tuesday morning on a Rhode Island radio show on which Bishop Tobin appeared.

"If [Sen. Kennedy] cannot abide by the teaching of this church, not just this one but others and ... what it means to be a Catholic ... maybe he should find another fine Christian denomination where he can be more comfortable," the bishop said.

Bishop Tobin also has the ear of Rhode Island Gov. Carcieri, who is a member of the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage and, in a move many criticized has heartless, recently vetoed the bill that would have given domestic partners the right to make burial arrangements for each other.

But can we honestly be surprised that this is the direction that Catholic Church leadership is headed? Strong-arming politicians to craft secular law to reflect church law?

Patrick Kennedy told the Providence Journal that Tobin had barred him from receiving communion and instructed priests in the diocese not to administer the sacrament "because of the positions that I've taken as a public official."

Naturally the question arises, "What public policy positions will the church hound policy makers on next? Marriage equality?"

Michael Jones at says, "It was a narrowing of Catholic theology to strip issues like poverty and social justice from the forefront of the Church, and replace them with opposing abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research. It was also a call to Catholic politicians: oppose abortion and gay marriage at all costs, or risk the threat of the Church denying you Communion and publicly tarring and feathering you as a sinner."

And he's right. The Archdiocese of Washington D.C. threatened to throw the poor and homeless under the bus, claiming they will end their charity work if the District City Council passed their same-sex marriage legislation.

Let's not forget to that they are issuing a new edict that will be signed by hundreds of U.S. Bishops that will strongly unite them all behind a common statement condemning the love between gays and lesbians. Behind this they can rally and step into public policy making more than ever before.

Moreover, the church has pledged $2 million to fight marriage equality, despite closing parishes left and right due to lack of funds.

Click here to read the rest of this essay.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this story. It's very important for people to hear what is happening.

    I support many of the great works of the Catholic Church and have many Catholic friends who support civil rights for all people, but like me, they don't agree with the Catholic leadership's more militant tone and actions.

    It's a shame that it's gone this far. We need to find a way to peacefully co-exist, holding on to our personal religious beliefs (or lack thereof) and still be equal citizens under the view of the civil government.

    Unfortunately, the Catholic leadership doesn't believe in the separation of church and state because they don't believe public policy should be separate from religious beliefs. As a result, they don't believe in equality for all . . . unless we're all forced by law to follow the Catholic policy.

    Phillip Minton
    Unite the Fight