People always say the two things you should never discuss when first meeting a person are politics and religion. These two topics tend to go hand in hand, but may do so even more than you might think.
For example, people who are members of the Catholic Church are typically conservatives, although there are plenty of liberal Catholics out there. But if some religious leaders have their way, all members of the Catholic Church will be conservative in the future.
There has been an ongoing battle between Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy and the Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin, specifically regarding Kennedy’s pro-choice stance. Tobin reportedly wrote Kennedy a letter asking him to refrain from taking Communion because of his pro-choice position.
Communion is what Catholics believe to be the bread transformed into Christ’s body during mass.
In fact, Tobin reportedly told Kennedy “In light of the Church’s clear teaching, and your consistent actions … I believe it is inappropriate for you to be receiving Holy Communion and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so.”
But Kennedy is not the first politician to be denied his right as a Catholic. Others include Sen. John Kerry and Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The archbishop who denied Kerry Communion is the same one who wanted to refuse the late Senator Ted Kennedy funeral rites. Raymond Burke warned Catholics in Missouri they should not ask to receive Communion if they voted for pro-choice candidates. He called the above-mentioned Sebelius a “source of deep embarrassment to Catholics.”
This denial of Communion could be the church’s way of using political influence to promote its view on social issues such as abortion or homosexuality. Burke’s claim that people who are pro-choice, or even people who support those who are pro-choice, could be the stepping stone to greater miscarriages of power among the church.
This refusal of Communion could spread to those who use contraceptives or have sex before marriage, both of which the Church condemns.
The Church may have the power to refuse Communion to whomever they want, but consider who religious leaders such as Burke are targeting.
Burke wanted to deny those in power and those who supported people in power by voting them into office. And why is that? It sounds to me that Burke wanted to make sure those who had political power would spout the church’s beliefs. He also wanted to control of how people would vote by threatening to take Communion away from them.
Tobin said he only wanted to deny Kennedy Communion because he was held to a higher standard than the other church members due to his political prominence. He also said Kennedy has a responsibility as a Catholic to promote pro-life laws and policies.
But Kennedy made a good point when he said “If the church is pro-life, they ought to be for health care reform, because it’s going to provide health care that [is] going to keep people alive.”
Annabelle Vang is a junior journalism major from Pekin. She is the Scout news editor.
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