Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kudos to Bishop of Providence on Kennedy Jr.

Some Bishops really do a good job.  They need to be supported and affirmed. Here's a good example.

Patrick Kennedy, the son of the late Ted Kennedy, received a sharp public rebuke from his bishop, Thomas Tobin (Providence, Rhode Island).

Like his father, Patrick Kennedy is a politician. Also like his father, he claims to be Catholic and pro-abortion. 

A few days ago, when the House of Representatives was preparing to vote on the new health care bill, pro-life Representatives proposed an amendment that would prevent the use of federal funds for abortions. Fortunately, this amendment was passed, but Patrick Kennedy voted against it. The pro-abortion politician was quoted as saying “the fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.”

Well, his local Bishop wasn't too impressed. He wrote an open letter because he felt that Kennedy's position "deserves a public response, lest it go unchallenged and lead others to believe it’s true.”

You can read the full coverage here.  Let me give you a delicious excerpt from the Bishop's letter:

[I]n confronting your rejection of the Church’s teaching, we’re not dealing just with “an imperfect humanity” – as we do when we wrestle with sins such as anger, pride, greed, impurity or dishonesty. We all struggle with those things, and often fail.

Your rejection of the Church’s teaching on abortion falls into a different category – it’s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you’ve re-affirmed on many occasions. Sorry, you can’t chalk it up to an “imperfect humanity.” Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.

Now that's what I'm talkin' about!  Bishops are responsible for ensuring that their flock does not get misled.   Like a loving father, he tries to nudge them back on to the proper path.  they must not be afraid to take a public stand for the well-being of the faithful. It's hard, I know. But it has to be done.

Most Catholics think that it's non-Christian to reproach somebody else's behavior. That is patently false.  This passive attitude allows sin to proceed unabated and unchecked, thus wreaking havoc on the world. Fraternal correction is absolutely essential in the life of the Church. Charity, gentleness and tact are very important in this process. The approach varies depending on the circumstances. In most cases, it is sufficient to speak one-on-one with the person in private. However, there exist serious circumstances where it is vital that a public stand be made in order to counter a very public sin.

Bishop Tobin understands this.  We desperately need more bishops to follow this example.

Thank you Bishop Tobin!  Keep up the good work.