Among the many questions I keep getting in response to today's story about Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and Catholicism: what about his divorce? The answer is that Kennedy's first marriage, to Joan Bennett, ended in divorce; the marriage was reportedly annulled, and his second marriage, to Victoria Reggie, although conducted as a civil ceremony, was "blessed by the church,'' according to Kennedy's office. This is not particularly unusual -- there were 46,000 annulments in just one year (2002), according to the Vatican. Some people argued that Kennedy and other Catholic politicians should not receive Communion because of their support for abortion rights. Kennedy, obviously, did not share that view and Kennedy's bishop, Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, has repeatedly asserted that it is not the place of a priest to deny Communion to a politician; that it is up to individual Catholics to wrestle with their own consciences and to decide whether to present themselves for Communion. Kennedy regularly sought and received Communion at churches in Washington and Massachusetts; he was seen taking Communion at his mother's funeral in 1995, and I myself saw Cardinal Law give him Communion earlier this decade.
(Photo, by Ollie Noonan, shows Sen. Kennedy receiving Communion at the funeral of his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, in 1968.)