POLL ALERT: Bp. Tobin and Rep. P. Kennedy


A reader sent this:

Suggestion on polls…. Ask readers to copy and paste the poll links into a new browser window.  Even better – disable the link so they have to.  This will keep the poll admin from seeing 1000+ hits from wdtprs.com like that one lady in Cincy did.  Instead, they will simply see hits from all over the world.  I’m sure the WaPo poll has 10,000 hits from some gay activist site who rallied the troops.  But of course, we cannot see it – but they can.  They won’t point that out to their readers but if the poll was swinging the other way and they could blame you and say the results were skewed, they would.


On the site of a TV news outlet in Providence, RI, there is a poll right now about the criticism leveled by Bp. Tobin about Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI).

The question:

Do you agree with Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin that Rep. Patrick Kennedy is "less Catholic" because of his political beliefs?

I voted "Yes".  I agree with Bp. Tobin.

This has to do with our Catholic identity.


Here is the link.  Copy and paste it into a new browser address bar:


Results so far


UPDATE 17 Nov 1850 GMT

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Our Catholic Identity, POLLS. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Kimberly says:

    Could someone explain to me how a person can be “undecided”?

  2. Tom A. says:

    Try not to read the comments made by the poll takers. It is amazing the lack of knowledge about the Catholic faith that is out there among Catholics and non-Catholics. So much ingnorance. Someone once said something to the effect that people may think you are a fool so keep your mouth shut otherwise you will prove it to them.

  3. irishgirl says:

    I voted ‘yes’ in support of the Bishop!

  4. Tina in Ashburn says:

    voted here.

    BTW the WaPost poll appears to allow voting more than once. Perhaps the other activist[s] discovered this?

  5. LarryD says:

    Just voted – 55% yes, 44% no.

  6. Mike says:

    If you want to have a clickable but “anonymous” link, Fr Z, you could use a site like


    to form a URL which goes through anonym.to for 2 seconds before going to the desired target site.

    Eg, for your blog: http://anonym.to/?https://wdtprs.com/

  7. Mike: That is very useful. Thanks!

  8. Obumbrabit says:

    Eliminating the referrer URL by copying and pasting or using an anonymizing service is a good idea but it won’t prevent the modernists who watch this blog from posting comments in each poll alerting everyone there to your campaign.

    But still I think it is a good idea because the poll admins will not see where the traffic is coming from, so they won’t really be able to know just how much influence we have had on the poll, even if they see comments claiming that we are skewing the results.

  9. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Am not sure that Catholic-ness is a gradational quality. Can one be less Catholic than someone else or say that today I feel more Catholic than I did yesterday?

  10. GordonB says:

    Just saw somebody post the following on the comments for the above poll:

    “Posted by Richard’s Son on November 16, 2009 at 1:07 pm
    Just a head’s up for anyone thinking this poll is indicative for anything:

    A Catholic priest from Wausau WI is encouraging his readers to pump the voting here (this appears to be part of his MO):


  11. Sieber says:

    Hmmmmm. My Trend Micro has blocked the site as dangerous. Uh,oh!

  12. shoofoolatte says:

    I voted no. The Bishop’s letter was inappropriate and his notions of what makes one a “real Catholic” were deeply flawed.

    Your ability to skew a poll has no relation to reality.

  13. Hans says:

    Really, shoofoolatte? As a bishop, Bishop Tobin has a responsibility to correct the errant. It is his job to say who is a ‘real Catholic’ or not. As bishop of Providence, he is Rep. Kennedy’s bishop, so his responsibility is specific. And Rep. Kennedy’s error is both profound and public, so it is hardly inappropriate for his correction to be public also. Further, Bishop Tobin’s correction is much milder than it might have been.

    What have online polls to do with reality?

    More importantly, who are you to say that a bishop’s correction of one of his own flock was inappropriate?

    Most recently:
    Thank you for voting!
    Yes 62% (6,750 votes)
    No 38% (4,178 votes)
    Undecided <1% (42 votes)
    Total Votes: 10,970

  14. john 654 says:

    What I want to know is when the Bishops will take the long needed move to excommunicate such folks? I know it is a step that no one wants but it doesn’t seem the existing method of changing minds is working.

  15. Seraphic Spouse says:

    I am not American, so I didn’t think it would be fair to vote. But I do sometimes feel frustrated by Kennedy-worship. ARRRRGH!!! They’re just peeeeople! The USA got rid of their king and royal family. Why, then, crown JFK? Why make the Kennedys your royal family? Craziness!!!

  16. mpm says:

    “The USA got rid of their king and royal family.”

    Technically, we left the king and royal family alone, and just went our own way.

    But, I agree about the Kennedys, royal they ain’t, except perhaps as in “royal pains in the ***”.

  17. The Cobbler says:

    Skewing polls by getting the word around? I thought that was community organizing, “raising awareness” and/or activism, all nasty liberal things that honest people don’t do because voting is about getting a measurement of peoples opinions according to the number of people, not according to the truth or falsehood of the opinion. Oh, and it’s called campaigning when Republicans do it, but is still wrong. We should attempt rather to positively influence the opinions of people in general so that the accurate sample reads closer to the truth or the right decision without losing accuracy of its reading of opinion rates. It’s a subtle distinction.

    Now on the other hand one could argue that news reader polls are really more of a way for readers to communicate to readers, and from there that from there if they want to restrict that to regular readers rather than anyone willing to read their article in order to give their opinion to others they can do so through subscription-like systems. Whether those premises are truthful and applicable I’m not certain of. Perhaps Fr. Z could give us (or, if he already has, direct us to) his moral rationale for directing those of a genuinely Catholic opinion to sway polls on relevant issues (beyond “the truth should be told”, which is more end than means unless my premise above is correct)?

  18. GScheid says:

    Kennedy says RI bishop banned him from Communion

    Buzz up!296 votes
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    * Print

    FILE – Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin, is shown in his office in Providence, AP – FILE – Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin, is shown in his office in Providence, R.I, in this Aug. 21, 2008 …
    By RAY HENRY, Associated Press Writer Ray Henry, Associated Press Writer – 17 mins ago

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin has banned Rep. Patrick Kennedy from receiving Communion, the central sacrament of the church, in Rhode Island because of the congressman’s support for abortion rights, Kennedy said in a newspaper interview published Sunday.

    The decision by the outspoken prelate, reported on The Providence Journal’s Web site, significantly escalates a bitter dispute between Tobin, an ultra orthodox bishop, and Kennedy, a son of the nation’s most famous Roman Catholic family.

    “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 paper in an interview conducted Friday.

    Kennedy said the bishop had explained the penalty by telling him “that I am not a good practicing Catholic because of the positions that I’ve taken as a public official,” particularly on abortion.

    He declined to say when or how Tobin told him not to take the sacrament. And he declined to say whether he has obeyed the bishop’s injunction.

    The paper said the bishop’s spokesman declined to address the question of whether he had told Kennedy not to receive Communion. But the bishop’s office cast doubt on Kennedy’s related assertion about instructions to state priests.

    “Bishop Tobin has never addressed matters relative to public officials receiving Holy Communion with pastors of the diocese,” spokesman Michael K. Guilfoyle told the paper in an e-mailed statement.

    Kennedy did not return messages left on his cell phone by The Associated Press, and his staff refused to make the congressman available for comment. Tobin’s spokesman told the AP that the bishop would not comment on the issue.

    Church law permits Tobin to ban Kennedy from receiving Communion within the Diocese of Providence, which covers Rhode Island, but he cannot stop Kennedy from receiving Communion elsewhere. It was unclear whether bishops overseeing Washington and Massachusetts, where Kennedy’s family has a seaside compound, would issue similar bans.

    Kennedy could appeal the decision to officials in the Vatican, but the hierarchy of the Catholic church is unlikely to overturn a bishop, said Michael Sean Winters, a church observer and author of “Left At the Altar: How Democrats Lost The Catholics And How Catholics Can Save The Democrats.”

    “It’s really bad theology,” said Winters, who opposes abortion. “You’re turning the altar rail into a battle field, a political battlefield no less, and it does a disservice to the Eucharist.”

    The dispute between the two men began in October when Kennedy in an interview on CNSNews.com criticized the nation’s Catholic bishops for threatening to oppose a massive expansion of the nation’s health care system unless it included tighter restrictions on federally funded abortion.

    Kennedy voted against an amendment to a Democratic health care plan sought by the bishops. But he voted in favor of a health care plan that included the amendment he opposed.

    Tobin, the spiritual leader of the nation’s most heavily Roman Catholic state, demanded an apology from Kennedy after learning of his remarks and requested 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 sitdown. “I embrace my faith which acknowledges the existence of an imperfect humanity.”

    Their meeting fell apart. While Tobin called it a mutual decision, Kennedy accused Tobin of failing to abide by an agreement to stop discussing the congressman’s faith publicly.

    Tobin followed up with a biting public letter published in a diocesan newspaper.

    “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,” Tobin wrote.

    In subsequent interviews, Tobin said Kennedy should not receive Communion like other Catholic politicians who support abortion rights. Still, the bishop stopped short of ordering Kennedy not to receive the sacrament

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