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Kerry Mass Watch

By Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. (articles ) | Apr 12, 2004

A semi-regular new feature on Off the Record will be seeing what new and innovative ways presidential candidate John Kerry finds to practice his Catholic faith on Sunday. Will he receive Communion at the local Paulist center or is this a week where giving a political speech sprinkled with scriptural references at a balck Baptist church substitutes for the Holy Eucharist?

Why so much focus on this? John Kerry is the first Catholic major party candidate to run for president since John F. Kennedy (Patrick Buchanan did not have the Republican or Democrat nomination) and could become the most prominent lay Catholic in the country, if not the world. How he approaches the fundamental aspects of his faith are therefore relevant.

So where did Kerry spend his Easter Sunday? At his regular "parish", the Paulist Center in Boston-- which by the way is noted on several online lists as being among the gay-friendly parishes in the US. Kerry and his wife received Communion, apparently with the knowledge and consent of the archbishop of Boston.

Paulist Father John Ardis said on Friday that the archdiocese had called him up, just an hour before the Associated Press reporter happened to call him, to tell him that he should not refuse Kerry Communion. That sounds fishy to me. For one thing, do you really think anyone at the archdiocese thought Kerry would be refused Communion at the Paulist Center? For another, I don't picture the archdiocese taking the initiative on this. The m.o. seems to be one of neglect rather than active participation.

In any case, we don't hear any outcry from Kerry's bishop that he is not in communion with the Church because of his notorious positions on fundamental matters of the faith and thus not able to receive Communion, under canon 915. The question, then, is what does this say to average lay Catholics who, because of mortal sin or irregular matters in their life, e.g. divorce, mortal sin, etc., are supposed to refrain from Communion? After all what's good for Kerry must be applicable to everyone, right?

It's open season in the Communion line!

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  • Posted by: Fr. Zuhlsdorf o{]:¬) - Apr. 12, 2004 2:48 PM ET USA

    Once upon a time, in a land which now seems far, far away, some anti-Catholics were terrified that JFK might start taking his marching orders from the Pope of Rome. I don't think there is the least worry about Sen. Kerry on this point.

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