U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.) thought it "disheartening" that Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., requested that fellow-Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D., R.I.) refrain from receiving Communion because of his proabortion advocacy.

American Catholics, as do all citizens, have a constitutional right to espouse their opinions. However, Murphy, Kennedy, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Vice President Biden, and many others in the federal government view themselves as members of the Catholic Church. As such, they are obligated in conscience to accept all of the church's teachings and to respect their bishops' counsel.

Because those persons hold such prominent positions, they and all other Catholics in the public eye have an even greater obligation to ensure that their public lives conform to the church's teachings. If their personal beliefs are not in conformity with the church, then they are no longer Catholics and should not present themselves as such.

William J. Swety