Diocese Repudiates SC Priest Who Said Catholic Obama Supporters Need Penance Before Communion

By Dotcomabc

Nov 15, 2008 1:01pm

Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville, SC, has told Catholics who voted for President-elect Obama that they need to seek penance before they take Communion, "lest they eat and drink their own condemnation," Newman wrote in a church newsletter, alluding to I Corinthians: "For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body [of the Lord] eats and drinks judgment on himself."

In a newsletter posted on the church website — but since taken down — Father Newman wrote that "Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition 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."

Via email the Greenville News interviewed Father Newman, who expressed chagrin at a recent poll indicating that fewer than 25% of American Catholics attend Mass every Sunday.

"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," wrote the News. "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.’"

But in an unusual move, Monsignor Martin T. Laughlin, Administrator of the Diocese of Charleston, SC, has issued a statement and video repudiating Father Newman.

"This past week, the Catholic Church’s clear, moral teaching on the evil of abortion has been pulled into the partisan political arena," wrote Msgr. Laughlin. "The recent comments of Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville, S.C., have diverted the focus from the Church’s clear position against abortion. As Administrator of the Diocese of Charleston, let me state with clarity that Father Newman’s statements do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church’s teachings. Any comments or statements to the contrary are repudiated."

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, ‘Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions,’" Msgr. Laughlin continued. "The Catechism goes on to state: ‘In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path; we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.’ Christ gives us freedom to explore our own conscience and to make our own decisions while adhering to the law of God and the teachings of the faith. Therefore, if a person has formed his or her conscience well, he or she should not be denied Communion, nor be told to go to confession before receiving Communion.

"The pulpit is reserved for the Word of God. Sometimes God’s truth, as is the Church’s teaching on abortion, is unpopular. All Catholics must be aware of and follow the teachings of the Church. We should all come together to support the President-elect and all elected officials with a view to influencing policy in favor of the protection of the unborn child."

Newman has since taken down his church newsletter and is now referring those seeking to read it to the website of the Diocese of Charleston.

- jpt

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