Responding to Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), who charged that the Catholic Church is promoting dissent about proposed health care legislation, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence has replied that the bishops cannot support a proposal that covers abortion. He asked the Congressman to apologize for his “irresponsible comments.”
In an interview with CNSNews.com, Rep. Kennedy, son of the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, had accused the Catholic Church of fanning “the flames of dissent and discord” because Catholic bishops declared that they will oppose the proposed health care reform unless it explicitly prohibits funding of abortion.
In a Friday statement published on the website of the Diocese of Providence, Bishop Tobin replied:
“Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s statement about the Catholic Church’s position on health care reform is irresponsible and ignorant of the facts. But the Congressman is correct in stating that ‘he can’t understand.’ He got that part right.
“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.”
The bishop called Rep. Kennedy a “disappointment to the Catholic Church” and to the citizens 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,” Bishop Tobin’s statement concluded.