Everywhere I look in the secular media I see the reports of Providence, R.I.’s Bishop Tobin telling Rep. Patrick Kennedy not to present himself for communion described as a political battle between bishop and lawmaker. One commentator went so far as to say that barring pro-abortion politicians was “bad theology.”
So instead spewing out expletives, I’d like to set the record straight.
Barring public figures who cause scandal from communion is not a political move nor is it bad theology. Rather, it is sound biblical and pastoral theology. Keeping public sinners from profaning the Body and Blood of Christ is not an action of political leverage, but an act of concern for the sinner’s soul.
St. Paul told the Corinthians that if they eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ in an unworthy manner, they eat and drink judgment upon themselves (1 Cor11:27-30). If someone receives the Eucharist in mortal sin, they are eating and drinking judgment upon themselves. Bishop Tobin does not want Kennedy’s soul to be in any more jeopardy than it already is. For if he claims to be Catholic, but is pro-abortion, he causes scandal by providing a bad example for other Catholics. If he then receives the Eucharist, he is committing sacrilege. He would be compounding mortal sin upon mortal sin. Bishop Tobin is performing an act of pastoral kindness by barring Kennedy from communion…whether Kennedy and the secular media realize it or not. Perhaps if Kennedy actually believed that the Eucharist is truly the Precious Body and Blood of Christ, he would not think that Bishop Tobin’s prohibition was a political ploy.