This morning I woke up and checked my inbox to find an “action alert” from a group called Catholic Democrats urging me to support Patrick Kennedy. They want us to contact Bishop Tobin and ask him to “stop using the Eucharist as a political weapon.” The alert might as well have been composed by Catholics for a Free Choice.
Well, I decided to do the opposite. I sent the bishop an email of support. And I don’t think it would be a bad idea for the rest of us to do the same. The email address provided in the alert is: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is for the communications office of the Diocese of Rhode Island.
The notion that Bishop Tobin is “using the Eucharist as a political weapon” is ridiculous. Bishop Tobin has simply held to the crazy idea that it does actually mean something to be a Catholic, and that the Eucharist is not something to be taken lightly. The complaining going on about this is like a child’s temper tantrum over not being able to have a cookie. Either you view the Eucharist as the body and blood of Christ, or you don’t. If you do, that means accepting what Scripture and Tradition have taught about what state a person must be in to partake of it worthily. If you don’t, then why be a Catholic at all?
No, I don’t want to be one of those “if you don’t like it, just leave it” people – but seriously, at what point do you just say, “this isn’t the Church for me?” Doesn’t one’s honor and dignity, their self-respect, rest upon making consistent moral decisions? Can one perpetually keep one foot in the Church and one in the pro-choice camp? If it really means that much to a person that they receive Holy Communion, shouldn’t they try to amend their lives in such a way as to be rendered worthy of it?
It is not Bishop Tobin that is using the Eucharist as a political tool, but Patrick Kennedy and all of his nominally Catholic supporters. They want the Eucharist because it will signify that there are no consequences for the reprehensible political positions they take. They want the Eucharist so they can continue milking the Catholic vote, so they can more easily call themselves Catholics when they go campaigning without having the awkwardness of a public scandal on their hands. Well I’m glad one bishop had the gall to stand up to them, and I hope he never wavers.