Normally, I don't get into discussions about the church hierarchy because, sub specie aeternitatis, the hierarchy doesn't really matter that much. Its role is to keep the lights on and pay the bills, and to provide a minimal sense institutional continuity that humans need to function in groups over time. But whenever the people who compose it try to do more, they almost always overreach, make fools of themselves, and cause unnecessary suffering. This seems to be the case with Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin publicly announcing that he has asked Congressman Patrick Kennedy not to take communion.
We are mistaken if we see these men in the hierarchy as anything more than house management who are not nearly as important as the song and its singers that draw people into the "house" they manage. They have been for a long time deluded into thinking that they have some kind of special spiritual authority. Except for those rare occasions when they meet in council, they just don't. They've been wrong so many times it's borderline ridiculous. And there's nothing wrong with being wrong, so long as you learn from it and don't presume that you actually know more than you do. It's OK to be a hack--most of us are--but you have to recognize that's all you are, and resist the temptation to think you know and understand more than you do. It's in the over-reaching that so much avoidable damage is done.
The managers are company men, not particularly bright or insightful, nor particularly stupid, not particularly holy or good, but not particularly bad, in other words they are mere humans like the the rest of us. The best among these managers recognize a good singer when they find him or her and find ways to step aside and let her song be heard. And every now and then a really talented singer becomes a manager, and people listen, not because of his role in the hierarchy, but because of his song, which touches the heart and changes us, opens us up to new possibility. That's where moral and spiritual authority lie, not in promulgations of infallible truths. But singer/managers are the exception, not the rule.