I was looking around for today’s topic and found this somewhat incredible story about a Roman Catholic bishop who has stated that he will refuse to give Communion, the Body of Christ given to Catholics as the culminating point of our weekly Mass, to a local man, Paul Kendrick. Now, before even getting into the details of the tenuous situation between these two men, my first question, as a Catholic is, can he even do that? Catholic priests give Communion to prison inmates, the homeless, drug addicts; pretty much anyone who requests it. I have always been taught that no one can interfere with a believer’s relationship with God. Isn’t this basically what Bishop Malone is doing?
The reason? Because Mr. Kendrick is a advocate for victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, part of a national network, Voice of the Faithful. What has Mr. Kendrick done to earn the wrath of the bishop? We has written numerous letters to him, attempted to speak to him at public events and the like to encourage him to meet with area families who supposedly have a victim of sexual abuse by priests under the bishop’s tutelage. Bishop Malone has repeatedly refused and Mr. Kendrick has not been shaken by the bishop’s refusals. According to reports from local media, this has been going on between these two men for close to five years. In some of his writings Kendrick has stated that Malone knowingly relocated at least three priests out of the the Portland area due to their sexual abuse of parishioners.
What spurred the most recent refusal of Communion was a letter that Kendrick sent to the bishop stating that he would be attending Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and that if, during his homily (the time during Mass when the priest shares the Gospel with those in attendance) the bishop were to look his way Kendrick would “shake his head in disbelief or put his hands in his face” to show his disapproval of the bishop’s handling of sexual abuse cases in the churches under his leadership.
Of course, the bishop is now claiming that Kendrick’s persistence can now be considered harassment and is planing on filing formal charges against him. In a recent letter to Kendrick the bishop attempted to make his own restraining order of sorts, ordering Kendrick to make an effort to not be in the same buildings as the bishop, in short to stay out of his church, and that if they did find themselves in the same structure, Kendrick must stay at least 500 ft. away from him. I never knew that individuals could make up their own restraining orders. I really don’t think they can, that is what the courts and law enforcement are there for and based on the definitions of ‘harassment’ given by various sources, I really don’t think the bishop has a case, otherwise he would have gone the legal route first and put an end to it.
To conclude, I grew up in a community with a Catholic priest who abused young boys for some 40 years and he lead quite a lifestyle of duplicity. There are some older parishoners in my hometown who even today refuse to believe that this priest was capable of such acts. It is this writer’s opinion that the blame for this situation in Maine lays squrely on the shoulders of the Church. This is simply the lingering effect of the Church’s deplorable reaction to sexual abuse cases that have run rampant over the past decades. The Church has simply played the role of the ostrich, ignoring the situation in the hopes that it would go away. One would think that Bishop Malone has figured out that this unofficial stance of the Church isn’t working so he has upped the anty. This is the reason why Catholics have been having their own Exodus of sorts, leaving the pews of the Roman Catholic Church in droves and turning to other Christian denominations in search of the honesty that Jesus Christ taught when he was alive.
Churches are closing at every turn, fewer young men are joining the priesthood and there will be a serious discrepancy in the number of priests available and Churches in need of a head priest. The sexual abuse charges of the past 20 years are certainly part of the reason for each of these decisions on the part of Catholics across North America.
Although Bishop Malone is attempting to paint Kendrick as a unstable stalker, based on what I have read penned by Kendrick and interviews that I found on Google, the bishop’s claims have no foundation whatsoever. Kendrick has maintained his composure in his in interviews and his letters to the bishop are professional; there are no threats, strong language or anything that could be seen as harassment. The simple fact is that the bishop knows he is wrong on many levels and his refusal to meet with a family under his leadership is certainly questionable behavior for anyone representing the Church founded by Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The bishop needs to ask himself, “What would Jesus do?” I think we all know the answer.