Back in October of 2008, I said that the Pelosi Heresy would be the turning point for the Catholic Church in America. Clerics would no longer leave blatant, public distortions of our Faith unchallenged when made by bold, Catholic-in-name-only, posturing politicians.
In this latest event, the son of Ted Kennedy, Patrick (the apple doesn't fall far..) Kennedy, said publicly that “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.”
Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin definitively set the record straight:
"... 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.
For example, the “Code of Canon Law” says, “Lay persons are bound by an obligation and possess the right to acquire a knowledge of Christian doctrine adapted to their capacity and condition so that they can live in accord with that doctrine.” (Canon 229, #1)
...But let’s get down to a more practical question; let’s approach it this way: What does it mean, really, to be a Catholic? After all, being a Catholic has to mean something, right?
Well, in simple terms ...being a Catholic means that you’re part of a faith community that possesses a clearly defined authority and doctrine, obligations and expectations. It means that you believe and accept the teachings of the Church, especially on essential matters of faith and morals; that you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish; that you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly; that you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially.
...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.” [Blogger Note: Ted Kennedy used the term "imperfect" in his final letter to the Vatican to explain 40 years of voting in favor of abortion on demand] Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous [Blogger Note: There he said it!] to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.
...I invite you, as your bishop and brother in Christ, to enter into a sincere process of discernment, conversion and repentance. It’s not too late for you to repair your relationship with the Church, redeem your public image, and emerge as an authentic “profile in courage,” especially by defending the sanctity of human life for all people, including unborn children. And if I can ever be of assistance as you travel the road of faith, I would be honored and happy to do so."
Bravo Bishop, thank you for your courage, leadership and preaching the unfiltered Gospel.