.- New Jersey Sen. Bernard Kenny (D-33rd Dist.) announced that he has decided to leave the Catholic Church, based on the “fundamental shift in the Church’s attitude toward the role that religion should play in politics,” reported the New Jersey Reporter.
The senate majority leader’s recent decision stems from statements made by Vatican officials and some U.S. bishops, who have said they would deny the Eucharist to politicians if their positions on abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and same-sex marriage ran counter to Church teaching.
According to the newspaper, Kenny, 57, was raised Catholic, had served as an altar boy, and has been an active member of Sts. Peter and Paul Church his whole life.
"Going to church and receiving Communion is a personal act of faith," Kenny told the New Jersey Reporter. "I don't think it is good judgment to turn it into a political statement." He added that the separation of church and state is a necessity to run a functioning democracy.
Three New Jersey bishops have stated that politicians, who support abortion, should not take Communion, and two specifically mentioned pro-choice Gov. James E. McGreevey.
McGreevey said he would not change his position but would voluntarily not receive Communion in public. Kenny decided to take a different tack.
Kenny said that eventually he would join another church.