What it means to be Catholic

Rhode Island Representative Patrick Kennedy has taken his disagreement with Catholic moral teaching into the public arena. On October 21, Rep. Kennedy (son of the late Edward Kennedy) told CNSNews.com, “I can’t understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social-justice issue of our time.” He said, “If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health-care reform because it’s going to provide health care that is going to keep people alive.”

Kennedy was criticizing the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for opposing a national health care bill that would fund abortions. The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is a gravely evil act.

The Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island to Rep. Kennedy’s comments to clarify the church’s teaching. Bishop Tobin’s most recent statement came in an open letter. The bishop makes a clear case about Kennedy’s error:

“The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” Well, in fact, Congressman, in a way it does. Although I wouldn’t choose those particular words, when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church. This principle is based on the Sacred Scripture and Tradition of the Church and is made more explicit in recent documents.

I hope we see more bishops stand up to correct the politicians who call themselves Catholic but put so much effort into undermining its beliefs.