Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence is requesting a personal meeting with Representative Patrick Kennedy D-R.I. to obtain his apology for his grave remarks about the Catholic Church’s position on universal health care. Last week, the two exchanged criticisms for their respective positions.
Kennedy favors the current health care agenda which opponents say does not preclude public funding of abortion. Yet Kennedy is a member of the Catholic Church which is decidedly pro-life. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops supports universal health care but not a plan that includes publicly financed abortion.
In a Cybercast News Service interview on October 22, Kennedy said, “I can’t understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time, where the very dignity of the human person is being respected by the fact that we’re caring and giving health care.” “You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life-saving health care?”
In a statement on October 23, Tobin said, “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.”
On October 26, Bill O’Reilly discussed this conflict with Mary Anne Marsh, a Democratic Strategist, on “The O’Reilly Factor”. He explored the idea that what Kennedy believes as a Catholic may be different from what he believes as a democrat. Clearly this is the case, as Kennedy separated himself from his church, saying of the members of his own religion– “I thought they were pro-life. 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.”
This is a picture of a man with a divided heart. I admit I’m a minority in my viewpoint, but I believe that if the man says he is a Catholic, then this declaration should be evident in every area of his life and inform every decision he makes. This is one of the greatest problems facing our nation today. Men and women say they are Christians, but their lives do not illustrate their stated identity. I’m not referring to the mistakes we all make from time to time that hamper our likeness to Christ. I’m talking about living with two or more sets of values from which to choose depending on the occasion, like outfits in a closet. Instead, we need Christians wearing the same style 24/7. Christ didn’t just act like the Son of God when it was convenient, nor did his viewpoints change on a matter depending on his company.
People argue that there is to be a separation of church and state. Frankly, this argument is becoming old. This overused phrase originally came from two personal letters President Jefferson wrote in 1801 and 1802 to the Danbury Baptists and Noah Webster. Sadly, the words were taken out of context and put into U.S. policy.
WallBuilders’ David Barton wrote: “Very simply, the “fence” of the Webster letter and the “wall” of the Danbury letter were not to limit religious activities in public; rather they were to limit the power of the government to prohibit or interfere with those expressions.” “”Separation of church and state” currently means almost exactly the opposite of what it originally meant.”
As for Representative Kennedy’s apparent separation from Catholicism on this issue, O’Reilly claimed he was “just Catholic enough to get your vote and then ignore the church”. Like most modern-day politicians, Kennedy sees his religious activity as just that – an activity. It’s every bit a Sunday ritual as a golf game. What’s said on the golf course is left on the golf course, and what’s said in the church is left in the church. The Catholic and the Congressmen –one and the same man, yet never the twain shall meet. If we could correct such problems of loyalty and integrity, we could correct many of the societal ills facing our nation today.
“Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases to be, for the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.” -Ps 12:1-2