Rhode Island Bishop Rebukes Rep. Patrick Kennedy

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, bishop of the diocese of Providence, says Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s remarks about the Church’s opposition to abortion-funded health care reform are “irresponsible and ignorant of the facts.”

In a statement published in The Rhode Island Catholic, Bishop Tobin responded to remarks made by the son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy that the Catholic Church is doing nothing but fanning the “flames of dissent and discord” by opposing health care reform unless it explicitly prohibits abortion funding.

“I thought they were pro-life?” Kennedy said about the Church’s stance during a recent interview with the Catholic News Service. “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. . .”

Bishop Tobin said “Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s statement about the Catholic Church’s position on health care reform is irresponsible and ignorant of the facts.

“As I wrote to Congressman Kennedy and other members of the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation recently, the Bishops of the United States are indeed in favor of comprehensive health care reform and have been for many years. But we are adamantly opposed to health care legislation that threatens the life of unborn children, requires taxpayers to pay for abortion, rations health care, or compromises the conscience of individuals.”

He added: “Congressman Kennedy continues to be a disappointment to the Catholic Church and to the citizens of the State of Rhode Island. I believe the Congressman owes us an apology for his irresponsible comments. It is my fervent hope and prayer that he will find a way to provide more effective and morally responsible leadership for our state.”

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