PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A meetingscheduled Thursday between Rhode Island's Roman Catholic bishopand Rep. Patrick Kennedy to discuss their dispute over abortion andhealth care reform has been postponed indefinitely, Bishop ThomasTobin said Monday.
Tobin said in a statement that he hoped a meeting can berescheduled soon "in a personal and pastoral setting."
The cancellation was a mutual decision, Tobin spokesman MichaelGuilfoyle said. He said the meeting became less pressing after the Housevoted Saturday to approve a massive health care overhaul thatincluded abortion restrictions sought by the nation's Catholicbishops.
Kennedy opposed an amendment tightening federal abortionrestrictions in the plan, but he supported the overall health careproposal. His spokeswoman did not return a call seekingcomment.
Kennedy, a Catholic, last month criticized church leaders whooppose plans to expand health care coverage unless they includemore abortion restrictions. Tobin calledon Kennedy to apologize for his remarks and askedfor a meeting.
The Democratic Congressman has said he did not intend to slightthe church and added the issue facing Congress is "access to healthcare and nothing else."
Tobin questioned in a public letter Monday whether Kennedyfulfills the requirements of being a Catholic.
"Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous tomany of our members," Tobin wrote. "It absolutely diminishes yourcommunion with the Church."
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