In a televised forum that was by turns casual and bitter, the two leading Democrats vying for US Senate were both heavily critical of the Catholic Church during a discussion of their own personal faith.
US Representative Michael Capuano and Attorney General Martha Coakley both said Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin’s overreacted in his written request that US Representative Patrick Kennedy not take communion because of the Rhode Island Democrat’s stance on abortion.
“And they wonder why people stop going to church,” Capuano said during an hourlong discussion moderated by Emily Rooney that will air tonight on WGBH-TV. “As far as I’m concerned, they haven’t written me. Maybe they’ve just written me off, I don’t know.”
“I consider myself a Catholic and I disagree with my church on several items,” listing abortion, gay marriage, and the restrictions on women and married men from serving as priests.
Coakley, who has been criticized for not prosecuting Rev. John Geoghan earlier, had even harsher words for her church.
“I also disagree with the institution and the role they played in hiding pedophile priests for years,” he said. “It seems to me a little bit ironic that a church that was willing to overlook the victimization of many, many children over several years is now turning around and saying to people who are good Christians, good Catholics, that, ‘You can’t join this.’”
“This position of this bishop has indicated that some of the bishops want to get more political, and I think people will react to it very badly,” Coakley said, adding that it has not been an issue in the Boston Archdiocese.
City Year co-founder Alan Khazei, who is also Catholic, said he does take communion even though he is pro-choice.
He initially said he would still choose to take communion, even if a bishop told him not to, but later said, “If my priest said I can’t take communion, then I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
The fourth candidate in the race, Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Paglicua was raised Episcopal and said, “I wouldn’t have to respond to it.”
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
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