Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin speaks to a reporter in Riverside, R.I., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

Bishop Tobin. (Josh Reynolds/AP)

Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I. speaks during a health care news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, in this Sept. 22, 2009 file photo. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg, File)

Rep. Kennedy. (Harry Hamburg/AP)

By Mark Memmott

The Roman Catholic bishop of Providence says he did not order priests in his diocese to stop giving Communion to Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island.

He did, though, nearly three years ago ask Kennedy to stop receiving Communion because of the lawmaker's support of abortion rights, Bishop Thomas Tobin says.

"If I had told 300 priests of the diocese in any format not to give Communion to Kennedy or anybody else, you think that would have remained confidential?" Tobin asks in this morning's Providence Journal.

Kennedy told the newspaper Friday that Tobin had "instructed me not to take Communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me Communion."

In today's ProJo, Tobin calls Kennedy's claim "absolutely inaccurate."

As the Associated Press writes, the "bitter dispute over abortion ... has revealed the depth of the divide among Catholics over how politicians should reconcile their faith with their public duties."

Kennedy is the son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.

categories: Health, Politics, Religion

9:00 - November 23, 2009