This is an interesting turn of events. From The State:
A Greenville priest who told parishioners those who cast ballots for President-elect Barack Obama risk placing themselves “outside of the full communion of Christ’s church” is simply enunciating church teaching and has the full support of the Diocese of Charleston, a spokesman said Thursday.
The provocative letter from the Rev. Jay Scott Newman to members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church has sparked some controversy and yet another conversation about faith and public policy.
“Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil,” Newman said in the letter posted on the Greenville church’s Web site, www.stmarysgvl.org, “and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law.”
Newman said that those who did not choose the anti-abortion candidate, in this case U.S. Sen. John McCain, “should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.”
Calling Obama “the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate,” Newman went on to say Catholics must pray for the newly elected chief executive.
“Let us hope and pray that the responsibilities of the presidency and the grace of God will awaken in the conscience of this extraordinarily gifted man an awareness that the unholy slaughter of children in this nation is the greatest threat to the peace and security of the United States and constitutes a clear and present danger to the common good,” Newman said in the letter.
St. Mary’s was established in 1852 and is considered the mother church for Upstate Roman Catholics. The church has 7,500 members and operates a parish school for 300 students.
While Newman has been the most outspoken of South Carolina priests in the wake of the election, the administrator of the diocese of Charleston, Msgr. Martin T. Laughlin, supports him fully, said diocese spokesman Steve Gajdosik.
“I think it’s fair to say that Father Newman’s letter echoes the sentiments of Father Laughlin,” he said.
In October, Laughlin wrote a letter on faith and citizenship to the state’s Roman Catholics that urged the faithful to be “moral voters.”
“It was more of a positive exhortation to do good, to do the right thing,” Gajdosik said…
“Personally, I think it is valuable to have this discussion in the secular media because, many times, many Catholics don’t go to Mass, and so they come at this issue from a secular viewpoint,” Gadjosik said.
“I think to Father Newman’s credit, he isn’t afraid to tackle tough issues. And sometimes there is a lot of pressure to conform and just be nice and go along.”
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said she had not heard of other churches taking this position in reaction to Obama’s win. A Boston-based group that supports Catholic Democrats questioned the move, saying it was too extreme.
“Father Newman is off-base,” said Steve Krueger, national director of Catholic Democrats. “He is acting beyond the authority of a parish priest to say what he did. … Unfortunately, he is doing so in a manner that will be of great cost to those parishioners who did vote for Senators Obama and Biden. There will be a spiritual cost to them for his words.”
I know many people who have different thoughts about whether individual voters cannot vote for a pro-choice candidate. I, for one, don’t see how any of the reasons stack up against the major issue of our day which is abortion. But it’s not really up to me in the end and for that I’m thankful.
There are certain thoughts that come to mind. I remember when pro-choice Arlen Specter had a primary opponent in pro-life Pat Toomey. Many pro-lifers I know voted for Specter because they believed him staying in office would give the Republicans the majority and therefore the ability to get prolife judges onto the bench. Many of these folks who supported Specter point to Justices Alito and Roberts as proof that they were right. I don’t know but I do know that they went into the booth with the intent to do good for the unborn even though they were voting for a pro-choice Senator.
No matter what, though, I am extraordinarily pleased that priests and bishops are bravely speaking out on abortion. I think it a little odd that so many people are pointing to the fact that so many Catholics voted for Obama as proof that there’s no way that bishops and priests can convince Catholics to vote pro-life. This is the first time that I can remember that the Church in America spoke out in unison (almost) against abortion. I am proud of the clergy for their strong stance.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has more.
Amusing and headscratching update from Diogenes.