[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/23/patrickkennedy.jpg caption="Should the Catholic Church deny communion to public figures, like Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who support abortion?"]
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The Catholic Church wants Democratic Congressman Patrick Kennedy to stop taking communion - due to his support of abortion rights.
The bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, says he told Kennedy in February 2007 that it would be "inappropriate" to keep receiving the Catholic sacrament.
That request is suddenly in the spotlight as the Church gets more involved in the health care debate, particularly regarding the issue of abortion. Kennedy - the nephew of this nation's only Catholic president, John F. Kennedy - revealed the bishop's request to a newspaper over the weekend.
Just last month - Kennedy had criticized the bishops for threatening to oppose the overall health care bill if it didn't include abortion restrictions. The Church called Kennedy's position "unacceptable" and "scandalous."
Rep. Kennedy is not the first Catholic politician to want it both ways. In 1984, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro came under attack from the church for not backing its position on abortion.
Kennedy's father - the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy - along with former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo - both Catholics - were also forced to defend their support of abortion rights.
At 30 percent, Catholics are the largest single religious group in Congress. Look for the Church to keep up the lobbying pressure on these lawmakers. When it comes to the health care bill - that could include not only abortion, but issues like immigrant rights and stem cell research.
Here’s my question to you: Should the Catholic Church deny communion to public figures who support abortion?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Hi Jack, The Catholic Church attempts to assert too much influence in politics. It is not the place of the Catholic Church to judge any man for his or her political position on issues. Only God can do that. I wonder, how many of those Catholic priests were denied sacrament after they were accused of molesting altar boys. The abortion policy aside, the Catholic Church needs to clean the skeletons out of its own closet before they start judging others.
Scott from New York says:
Of course the Church should be able to deny them communion. Politicians like Kennedy and Pelosi are more than happy to tout their Catholicism when it suits them, but membership in the Church brings responsibilities as well as benefits, and the Church has made its position on the responsibilities with regard to abortion of politicians who call themselves Catholic quite clear. If they choose to ignore the membership rules, then why should they get the benefits of membership?
When a church or any tax exempt entity gets involved in influencing a political debate or policy, they are no longer acting as a church but as a political lobby. That should be grounds to cancel their tax exempt status. The precedent was set 30 years ago when the Sierra Club lost its tax exempt status for lobbying for better protection of this nation’s natural resources.
Keith from Ft. Irwin, California says:
Why not? This isn't the church influencing public policy, but the church influencing its members. These lawmakers are free to leave the church any time they want, and I'm a little stumped as to why they would wish to be members of an organization whose core values they don't share anyway! I'm not Catholic and never have been, but I fully support the church’s right to teach and practice what they believe.
John from Canada says:
Mr. Cafferty, My otherwise very devout Irish Roman Catholic grandmother used to say that bishops were the work of the Devil. Lately I have begun to think she had a point!