“Your editorial cartoon entitled “And on the Bishop Tobin/Patrick Kennedy War” raised deep emotions in me. It is not Bishop Tobin’s intent to drive people away from the church. As a matter of fact the Diocese has started a Year of Evangelization to reach out and invite Catholics back to the faith. Granted the Catholic message is a challenging one; respect for life from conception to natural death, the proclamation that marriage is a covenant between man and a woman, etc. It is the Church’s mission here at St. Luke’s and elsewhere to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, protect the stranger, educate the young. St. Luke’s parish is willing to work to make our town, state and world a just and peaceful place.”This week I finished helping with communion at the 11:30 Mass and I go to the side door and begin a quiet discussion with a cross country runner from Barrington High School. When the conversation is over I hear Father Collins talking about “ensoulment” and Thomas Aquinas. Then he continues to comment on the Tobin-Kennedy issue. The main point revolves around the issue of who is worthy to receive Holy Communion. Fr. Collins’ remarks provoke strong opinions; pro and con. Now it’s my turn to weigh in as pastor to this ongoing debate. First of all, Bishop Tobin’s letter of three years ago was a private, confidential letter. He asked, not told, the Congressman to refrain from communion. Bishop Tobin has said many times he did not instruct the 300 priests of the Diocese to refuse Congressman Kennedy communion. I support Bishop Tobin’s many efforts to promote health care legislation that will not directly fund abortions. I hate abortion with my whole heart and soul. It is respect for life from conception that is indeed the engine that propels us as a Church to promote the dignity of human life. It is our respect for life that sends missionaries to the disabled, forgotten children of Jamaica. It propels us to work at the soup kitchen at St. Charles, send donations to the Little Flower Home, bring communion to the residents of Orchard View Manor and engage in many other outreach efforts. If the Church does not speak for the voiceless who will? I find it providential that right after the Mass I drive to Holy Apostles Church in Cranston to concelebrate a Mass with Monsignor Gregory, the founder of Mustard Seed. Our Catholic Church continues to speak for the voiceless and the least of our brothers and sisters.
Father Ray Collins is a friend who taught me in seminary about applying the word of God to the events of the day. However, his remarks Sunday should have been presented in a letter to the editor of the Rhode Island Catholic or in an OP-Ed piece. Remarks after communion was not the proper forum. He is open to hear from you with your thoughts. His e-mail is: profRFcollins@cs.com; his phone is 401/783-4301.
The Church seeks to promote forums where people can engage in a respectful dialogue about complex moral issues. In this pondering I have attempted to shed light, not heat, on this controversial topic. A year ago I initiated “A View from the Pew” in our bulletin. About five people have offered reflections. Perhaps now more people will offer their opinions. Let us listen to each other and come up with constructive solutions to the moral questions of the day.
Fr. Robert Hawkins