[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/22/art.kennedy1122.gi.jpg caption="Rep. Patrick Kennedy told a Rhode Island newspaper that a Catholic bishop has forbidden him from receiving communion due to Kennedy's support for abortion rights."]
Washington (CNN) - Rhode Island's top Roman Catholic leader has asked state congressman Patrick Kennedy to stop taking communion over his support for abortion rights, the diocese said Sunday.
In a statement issued Sunday, Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin said he told Kennedy in February 2007 that it would be "inappropriate" for him to continue receiving the fundamental Catholic sacrament, "and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so."
Kennedy is the son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and scion of the most prominent Catholic family in modern U.S. politics.
The Roman Catholic church strongly opposes abortion, which has been legal across the United States since 1973. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops lobbied for tight restrictions on federal funding of abortion in the health-care bill the House of Representatives passed earlier this month.
Updated: 2:01 p.m.