DUBLIN (CWN) - The US ambassador to Ireland on Sunday became embroiled in a controversy over prominent Catholics in Ireland receiving communion in non-Catholic churches in an attempt to promote unity.

      Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, a member of the prominent Catholic Irish-American political family, attended Sunday services and received communion at Dublin's Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, following Irish President Mary McAleese who also received communion at the church on December 7. "Religion, after all, is about bringing people together. We all have our own way of going to God," Kennedy Smith told the Irish Times. McAleese was criticized by Ireland's Catholic bishops for her show of "sham" religion. "(Communion) is the very life of the church," Archbishop Desmond O'Connell of Dublin told The Irish Times. "Isn't it a pretense if you're not buying into what you're doing and if you do not share the faith?"

      Kennedy Smith said she would probably attend Christ Church Cathedral on Christmas and would again receive communion there. She added that she often attended Sunday services at a Presbyterian church in Manhattan before her appointment as ambassador.

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December 29, 1997 volume 8, no. 62         DAILY CATHOLIC