Barred from Communion: Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island

Congressman Patrick Kennedy has been barred from receiving Communion by his Bishop in Rhode Island.

Bishop Thomas Tobin has barred Patrick, the son of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, because of his position on abortion rights.

"The bishop instructed me not to take Communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me Communion," Kennedy told the Providence Journal.

It is not clear if other bishops will follow Tobin's lead. Kennedy also attends Mass frequently in Massachusetts, where the family has a home.

Kennedy said the bishop had told him "that I am not a good practicing Catholic because of the positions that I've taken as a public official," particularly on abortion.

The dispute between the two men began in October when Kennedy criticized the nation's Catholic bishops for threatening to oppose health care legislation unless it included tighter controls on federally funded abortion.

Kennedy actually eventually voted for an amendment to the bill that did restrict the abortion funding in order to get the entire bill through.

Tobin, who serves in the most-Catholic diocese in the nation, demanded an apology from Kennedy for his remarks and asked for a meeting.

"While I greatly respect the Catholic Church and its leaders, like many Rhode Islanders, the fact that I disagree with the hierarchy of the church on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic," Kennedy wrote in a letter to Tobin, agreeing to a meeting.

"I embrace my faith which acknowledges the existence of an imperfect humanity."

The bishop wrote back: "Sorry, you can't chalk it up to an 'imperfect humanity.' Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your Communion with the Church."