Lately the Church hasn’t been to pleased with the State. In particular, Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin has forbidden Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, Rhode Island Democrat, to receive the Roman Catholic sacrament of Holy Communion because of his advocacy of abortion rights. There is more to the story though.
This comes on the heals of an October argument between the two about the opposition of the nation’s bishops to any health-care overhaul that did not include a strict ban on federal subsidies for abortion. Kennedy questioned the “pro-life” credentials of the bishops by saying that health care for millions of uninsured was at stake. Bishop Tobin didn’t take kindly to these words and noted that the bishops are staunch and longtime supporters of reforming the health-care system. However the bishops will not support a health-care bill that fails to include a ban on taxpayer funded abortion, like the Stupak Amendment. Here is a video of Bishop Tobin standing up for his actions on the O Reilly Factor:
The US conference for Catholic Bishops played a major role in the final bill voted on in the House recently. Perhaps this has emboldened the church to play a bigger role in influencing politics. The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington got the memo, they aren’t going to put up with a new law being voted on in D.C., so they stood up to the D.C. Council over the issue of same sex marriage.
Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.
“If the city requires this, we can’t do it,” said Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese,“The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that’s really a problem”
The Church is part of a few nonprofit organizations that partner with the district to serve its 68,000 people. Most importantly they manage the city owned shelters that accommodate the homeless. While some of the city council claim the church isn’t an integral component, the church says it donates up to 10 million annually from its own coffers.
Shockingly to me, council member David A. Catania, said he would rather end the city’s relationship with the church than give in to its demands. “They don’t represent, in my mind, an indispensable component of our social services infrastructure.”
A couple of things here, first the church is going to give up all kinds of city contracts over a couple of gay rights issues? Sounds okay to me; the church is standing up for its doctrine. Second, some of the stories I have read seem to imply that the church is just going to get up and walk away from the needy and their cause. That is not the case; they just won’t participate in some public funded social services. Third, something is wrong with our country when city councilmen think that these social programs should be run and managed by the city and not the church.
I understand the sometimes touchy relations the government has with the church. The First Amendment is used in all kinds of ways today to limit religion in our country. It shouldn’t however affect the church’s ability to influence the constituents of government officials. That is why I think it is important for the Church to stand up for what it believes in and let the people know where they stand. Some Christian Activists are doing this with The Manhattan Declaration. This document and website is asking for support through signatures and also calls for Christians to seek justice and common good for all people.