PROVIDENCE: Rep. Patrick Kennedy says Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin has barred him from receiving communion because of his support of abortion rights.
Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I. speaks during a health care news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, in this Sept. 22, 2009 file photo. [Agencies]
The Providence Journal reports on its Web site Sunday that Kennedy said in an interview that Tobin issued the order during discussions with the Democratic lawmaker, further escalating a simmering ideological dispute between the two men.
Under church rules, Tobin can prevent Kennedy from receiving communion within his diocese, which covers Rhode Island. It's unclear whether bishops outside Rhode Island will take the same path.
The dispute between the men began when Kennedy criticized the nation's Catholic bishops for threatening to oppose an overhaul of the health care system unless it included tighter restrictions on publicly financed abortion. Tobin asked for an apology and questioned Kennedy's faith.