Fr. Jay Scott Newman Advises Penance for Obama Vote [UPDATED]
(Hat tip: Rich Leonardi)
Says parishioners shouldn't take Communion until they do penance because of president-elect's abortion view:
The priest at St. Mary's Catholic Church in downtown Greenville has told parishioners that those who voted for Barack Obama placed themselves under divine judgment because of his stance on abortion and shouldn't receive Holy Communion until they've done penance.
The Rev. Jay Scott Newman told The Greenville News on Wednesday that church teaching doesn't allow him to refuse Holy Communion to anyone based on political choices, but that he'll continue to deliver the church's strong teaching on the "intrinsic and grave evil of abortion" as a hidden form of murder.
Both Obama and Joe Biden, the vice president-elect, support legal abortions. Obama has called it a "divisive issue" with a "moral dimension," and has pledged to make women's rights under Roe v. Wade a "priority" as president. He opposes a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court decision.
At issue for the church locally and nationwide are exit polls showing 54 percent of self-described Catholics voted for Obama, as well as a growing rift in the lifestyle and voting patterns between practicing and non-practicing Catholics.
In a letter posted on St. Mary's Web site, Newman wrote that "voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."
Catholics who did so should be reconciled to God through penance before receiving communion, "lest they eat and drink their own condemnation," Newman wrote, echoing a I Corinthians admonition for anyone who partakes "without recognizing the body of the Lord."
The response from parishioners has been supportive by a margin of 9 to 1 [ED.: Well, it IS South Carolina after all. Something like this wouldn't go over so well in, say, Massachusetts.], Newman said. He also cited Scripture in urging parishioners to pray for Obama and cooperate with him wherever conscience permits.
In an e-mail interview, Newman cited a survey earlier this year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that showed fewer than 25 percent of the 65 million Americans who call themselves Catholic attend Mass each Sunday, a "disturbing fact of life" that he said shows the vast majority of those baptized into the church "do not live as disciples of Jesus Christ in any observable way."
Mass-attending Catholics, he said, "vote overwhelmingly" for candidates who oppose legalized abortion.
Newman calls abortion the "chief battleground" in the so-called culture wars, and different from "prudential" matters such as health care, education or the war on terror. A Catholic who gets an abortion, encourages one or assists in the procedure is automatically excommunicated from the church, Newman said, a penalty he said doesn't apply to other forms of killing.
"The reason is that abortion is usually murder in secret and it lays axe to human life at its root," he said. With nearly 50 million abortions since Roe v. Wade, Newman said Obama would seek to make "hidden murder" a legally protected right, and anyone who voted to give him such power "will be complicit in the legal holocaust which will follow."
Newman said, "An uninformed vote is an irresponsible vote," and that no informed voter this year could have mistaken the candidates' abortion positions.
No matter the intention of the voter, Newman said a vote for Obama is "material cooperation" with his goal of extending the use of lethal violence against unborn children.
Asked if he would actively deny the sacraments to Obama voters, Newman said he won't because the church teaches that no one is denied communion unless it would cause "grave scandal," such as in the case of a notorious public sinner.
However, he said he'll continue to teach the necessity of being in "full, visible communion" with the church before receiving the sacraments.
UPDATE (14 November)
For the record, I've stated many times prior to the election that I did not believe a vote for Obama to be something that is forbidden by Church teaching. I believed it was something Catholics should not do, but I did not and do not consider such a vote something Catholics may not do.
For that reason, I disagree with the presumption that voting for Obama is necessarily something for which the Catholic voter should make Confession and do penance.
That said, some of the anonymous commenters (as well as some of the pseudononymous ones) on this post have completely lost their minds as well as their perspective. They seem to take their allegiance to President-elect Obama and/or the Democrat Party more seriously than they take their allegiance to Christ and/or His Church and her teachings.