Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bill Matthews talks at Bishop Tobin

Chris Matthews invited Bishop Tobin on his show Hardball (which should be called Screwball) to discuss the situation involving him and Representative Patrick Kennedy from Rhode Island. Patrick Kennedy has spoken out against the Church and said some rather nasty things. He opposes the Church's teaching on abortion and makes that very public. Bishop Tobin, as is his right, told Rep. Kennedy to refrain from receiving communion.

I have several issues with this "interview". First of all, Chris Matthews is not only wrong, he's also very rude and disrespectful. First, he brings up a clip of President Kennedy saying he will not take policy instruction from the Vatican. In other words, he would not create a situation where a foreign country controlled the United States. This is rather obvious. Chris Matthews then takes this statement and seems to say the bishop has no right to refuse communion to Patrick Kennedy. Excuse me? Matthews says the bishop is interferring in politics and he has no right to.

Matthews in the second half of the interview mostly, doesn't even let the good Bishop get a word in edge-wise. He lambasts him and continually asks him the same asinine question - how long of a prison sentence should a woman who receives an abortion get. This is absolute nonsense. Apparently Chris Matthews wasn't well catechized and does not understand the role of a Bishop.

A bishop is a representative of the Church, and a spiritual descendent of the apostles. It is his job to lead the local church. He makes statements on faith and morals and all Catholics in his jurisdiction are obliged to follow him. He has spiritual jurisdiction over the members of his flock. So he can do things like refuse communion to someone who violates Church law. A Catholic who supports abortion is violating Church law, and if a politician does it, he is in public disobedience to the Church and is causing scandal, and therefore he can be refused communion, because he is not IN communion.

The bishop also has full rights to criticize any law which kills people or causes another immoral activity to occur. How dare Chris Matthews lambaste the bishop for doing his job. Is Chris trying to squelch the Church, to silence her moral voice? Seems to me he is. Asking the bishop what sentence a woman or the abortionist should receive is sheer nonsense. A better question would be to ask the gravity of the sin committed and the possibility of someone being in a state of moral sin or excommunication based on receiving or performing an abortion. This is the bishop's jurisdiction. Asking the bishop about a civil legal matter is no different than asking a judge if someone needs to go to confession.

On top of that, Bishop Tobin has no training (that I know of) in criminal law so how on earth could he say exactly what type of sentence a woman would receive? Even a seasoned legal analyst couldn't answer that question because a sentence depends on many factors and each case is different. Chris Matthews was so rude that he wouldn't even let the bishop talk, and only kept demanding an answer to the same poorly-thought-out and irrelevant question. I guess after his tirade, Chris Matthews felt satisfied with himself.

The bishop was well within his rights to deny and publically condemn Rep. Kennedy for his politics. If Mr. Kennedy wants to formally remove himself from the Church, he is free to do so. Plus, there is a very disturbing idea out there that religious people have no right to enter into dialogue in the public square. Is this a communist country? This bishop has a double-right. First, he has the right to publically and privately reprimand any Catholic, especially those in public office, who clearly violate Church teaching. Secondly, as a citizen, the bishop has the right to speak out about injustices such as the slaughter of millions of innocent people. On top of that, it must be noted that it wasn't the bishop who initiated all of this, it was Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy first criticized the Church in most scathing and unfriendly terms. Rhode Island is lucky to have a bishop willing to stand up against this attack.


  1. Ummmm, no. You are wrong about pretty much everything, right down to the interviewer's name. It is Chris, not Bill.

    Matthews was right about everything he said, and you are a theocrat looking to make laws based on your silly superstition. But this is the public forum, theist, and you have no right to do so. And neither do your bishops.

    How many cathaholic pedophiles were denied communion by this fine upstanding bishop?


  2. LOL, you're right. I did write his name wrong. Oops. That was funny.

    All laws are based on some moral system, and these are seen as universal morals. We have laws against murder. Would it be logical to say "you are looking to make laws based on your silly superstition"? Of course not. You could say that for any law whatsoever. On top of that, if you live in the United States, the laws are founded in Judeo-Christian values.

    A person who commits a mortal sin and is unrepentent cannot receive communion. If this is public information and is known for certain, the one giving communion should refuse. With a person who enacts or votes for abortion laws, this is direct participation in grave sin, and thus is public enough to deny communion. If a priest or anyone else committed pedophilia and it was certain, then that person would not be eligible to receive communion.

  3. Why does someone like this even get a platform like hardball? His church hides pedophilia. Take your insane nonsense elsewhere.

  4. First of all, to the two posts speaking about pedophilia, what does that have to do with this issue. Unless Bishop Tobin committed that act or hid someone who did, we have no reason to judge him based on another Priests actions.

    Secondly, please note that if Pat Kennedy was to go to Communion, the Priest is supposed to give it to him. That is why the Bishop wrote him a private letter asking him not to receive. It would be like someone joining a group and not obeying any of its rules, but still wanting to be involved. Whether or not you agree with the Churches position is not the issue. The issue is that the Church has doctrine and dogma, some of which Catholics have to obey. Therefore, if someone does not obey them, they are usually asked in private not to receive Communion. I believe it is important to note Phil's final point, Kennedy is the person who made this public, not the Bishop, he seems to have wanted to shame the Church into allowing him back in; however this did not occur.

    Please note again though, that if he was to ask for Communion it would be given to him on the basis that the Priest cannot know for sure if he is still outside of the Church on this position. Therefore, the Priest gives Communion.

  5. If you can't get something as simple as a name correct I think all your creditably pretty much goes out the window. Not as if you had much arguing on the side of Christianity, anyway.

  6. You say that the bishop has no training in criminal law, as though that makes it ok for him to try to get laws passed.

    No. The fact that he's clueless about what the consequences should be simply makes it worse.

  7. let me break this down for you. you seem to be having issues.

    1) it is correct for him to state he won't let the Vatican make laws for our country. good.
    2) he CAN refuse communion, thats perfectly acceptable.
    3) the question 'what punishment do you want for women who have abortions' _IS_ a valid question. If you are going to consider it illegal then there must be a punishment for it. that is plain and simple, if you are arguing it's murder (and they do) then you must also recognize then it deserves the same punishment as murder. maybe with mitigating factors but still. we are talking on anything from 20 years in prison to life to execution.

    This of course means you must also have the same point of view on capital punishment right? i mean if you are arguing it's wrong to murder then surely it's wrong for the government to murder? RIGHT?

    As to the communion thing, the point you seem to be missing is that if you say 'he broke the churches law therefore we can't let him have communion' then why are pedophile priests STILL allowed communion?

    the point these other commenter's are making is the blatant double standards and hypocrisy involved in the church and it's rules vs it's behaviors.

    If you claim to be the moral bastion you need to present yourself in at least a SEMBLANCE of moral behavior.

    and as for 'universal morals' yeah good luck with that. even a cursory glance around will show you that there is no such thing. commonalities sure, but nothing even remotely resembling universality.

  8. the punishment for an abortion is a legitimate question and if abortion was illegal it would need to be addressed. absolutely. I don't doubt that. but if laws were enacted, it's not up to the bishop to determine what they are. people steal and the bishop can speak out against that, but he wouldn't say "stealing should get you 5 years in prison". but he can say it's gravely immoral and if done with the conditions of mortal sin, then one would have to go to confession and so on.

    if chris matthews had asked what the spiritual ramifications of having an abortion is, the bishop could easily answer that.

    we could get into speculation as to what punishment someone should receive for having an abortion, but we can't make any definitive statements. I would say women shouldn't necessarily go to prison, but I would target those who actually kill the baby, the abortionist. they should be put in prison if they perform an abortion. sure. and not all murder gets the same punishment. manslaughter is different than first degree murder. also, in this case, if the woman sought an abortion, she wouldn't be performing it herself, but rather the doctor. so there's a lot of things going on here. plus, in law also, one would have to be cognizant of what they were doing. If someone pressed a button not realizing it killed someone, they could not be charged with murder. So that of course would have to be factored in.

    So the basic point is that the bishop has a certain jurisdiction, but it's not as a judge. He even said it should be illegal. It's up to the courts to decide the punishment.

    Concerning the government's right to murder. I do not believe in the death penalty and believe it should be abolished. Pope John Paul II also disagreed with it for modern states. But in principle, it's not totally outlawed. Countries, groups, people, etc. have a right to self-defense. If a consequence of defending yourself is that someone dies, then that can be acceptable.

    If a person is in a state of mortal sin, they cannot partake in communion. That's a church law. If a priest commits pedophilia and does not confess this, then he cannot receive communion.

    In regards to universal morals, even if they are not visible, the Church accepts that moral principles are universal principles. In other words, they do not depend on custom or time or popularity. If it's wrong to kill a Jewish person in Canada, it's wrong to do it during World War II in Germany. It's always wrong.

  9. Here's a wrinkle you might have missed.

    Just like that Bishop, Kennedy has a territory he is responsible for. Unlike that Bishop, he doesn't rule over those people, he answers to them. Many of them aren't Catholic. Some aren't even Christian. Some aren't believers at all.

    The church sets a poor precedent when they use Canon Law to punish secular leaders for the choices they make as public figures. Yes, Kennedy is nominally a Catholic, but his constituents may not be, and attempting to steer Kennedy away from sin is only a shift in perception away from using the church's influence to affect policy.

    While the line between personal beliefs expressed publicly and public beliefs expressed on behalf of one's constituents can be blurry sometimes, IMO the best option the church has is to eat the public comments and have his parish priest have a chat with the politician off the record to see if these are his true beliefs rather than those of his boss's.