The Power of Father Newman Compels You!

I've always admired priests for their vocational devotion.  Obviously, there have been some bad ones over the years, but most priests, including the few that I know, have been devoted, humble servants and genuinely caring men.  Anyone who looks at the demands of the job (celibacy, ie) and still signs on has to be.  And if I'm ever possessed, by God, I want priests with the Holy Water and the Roman Ritual (the long version) and cassocks and whatever else they need. 

(ed note: Not "possessed by God." I guess I could be repossessed by God if my time to be smited comes)

Anyway, I also don't write about religion very often.  Others (Shush Now, especially) write frequently and eloquently on the topic.  Not me. 

But this AP story saddened me:
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote..

(complete story)

The gist of Father Newman's screed is that Barack Obama is "the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president," and that voting for him was a sin, for it enabled and encouraged abortion.

I admit I got fatigued with this election, and I may have missed some of the speeches, but I don't recall Obama ever saying that abortions were good.  I heard about the middle-class tax cuts, but not about mandatory abortions. 

There's a difference between being pro-abortion and pro-choice. 

There's also a difference between voting for sin, and voting for a politician who supports a woman's right to choose to have a procedure that the church considers to be wrong.

The Reverend Newman decided that if you voted for Obama, you needed to go through confession and penance before you'd be allowed Holy Communion. 

I was set to go a little nuts about this, until I read the response of Msgr Martin Laughlin, head of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston (the diocese governing Fr Newman's church): "Let me state with clarity that Father Newman's statements do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church's teachings." He goes on to say that it's up to each person to read, pray, and formulate his or her own opinion, and "If a person votes his or her conscience well, he or she should not be denied Communion, nor told to go to confession before receiving Communion."

(full response available here)

I understand that abortion is a hot-button issue, that some people are passionate in their beliefs.   But it's one issue.  If it's a sin, it's only one sin, and the Catholic God forgives sins.  The Incumbent and his minions may be anti-choice, and that's fine–it's their prerogative.  There are other sins, though, lots of them.  How many Hail Marys would you get for an ill-advised war?

Loons of any faith bother me, and I've met plenty of "We know best" zealots, both evangelical and atheist, and every gradation between.  The Catholics I know are actually the least annoying when it comes to religious zealotry.  When I read the words of Father Newman, my stomach fell.  How could a church be so misguided? The Monsignor's response heartened me a bit.  I'm not Catholic, but I'm glad I'd still be allowed to vote my conscience.  I always have, and I always will.  And if I'd been one of Fr Newman's parishioners, and he'd denied me Communion because of my vote? I'd have had my own little Protestant Reformation, and told him where he could stick his wafer.

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12 Responses to “The Power of Father Newman Compels You!”

  1. YEAH! Your last paragraph had me cheering loud and long, tom. These "holier than thou know it alls" are part of the reason the Right got so soundly defeated in this election. Cooler, more rational minds prevailed. I, too, would happily tell the Monsignor where to stick his wafer. That is the joy of reaching an age where I am not afraid to say anything to anyone. 🙂

  2. Life as an atheist is soooooooo uncomplicated. I really don't know why it isn't more popular.

  3. Actually, the atheists I know are rather besieged with people trying to either change or understand their beliefs.

  4. They know better than to try it with this atheist.

  5. They're besieged, but in the same way my car is besieged by kittens. Sure, they might scuff up the paint, and no matter how many I drive over, there's always more, but I'm not in any danger of the kittens getting inside.Also, since my b rain finds typos where there are no typos, I loved the visual of priests bring cossacks to your exorcism.

  6. Tom, the longer I live in this country the less difference I see between the U.S. and my little speck of backwoods tropical isle in the middle of nowhere. It's really fascinating (to me).

  7. This attitude really pisses me off too. Especially since there are more than one way of looking at the Abortion issue. Could it be that we'll never do anything about abortion til we deal with issues like poverty? I came across an interesting website which is done by a Catholic church worker making the argument that you are voting prolife by voting for someone who cares about those on the edge. It is so wrong to make spiritual judgements based on how someone votes. I like your wafer suggestion!

  8. I was scared shitless that I'd made that typo! lol It would be an interesting outfit to wear to an exorcism. I'm not sure how one accessorizes a cossack. 😉

  9. It's like we're one big global family of crackpots and jackasses: same circus, different clowns.

  10. Amen! And I say this as a ….. I wouldn't say religious, but a person of faith. I go to Catholic church, though I've never been baptized, and I wholeheartedly support Obama. I wish all the hardcore Catholics I know would realize that pro-choice doesn't equal pro-abortion. I hate it when they call Obama a "baby killer". He's not out performing mass abortions in the streets, guys.

  11. I actually like some things about the Catholic Church, even though I was raised Protestant. The good Father Newman crossed the line, and the Monsignor pointed that out. It's just disheartening that some folks might believe it; that's what makes it so dangerous.

  12. Yeah, I like things about the Church too, which is why I keep going despite the things I don't like. I agree that it's worrying that people might believe him. I'm just not sure that blind faith is the best way to go about things.

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