Hail Obama, Hail Mary

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman, parish priest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church here in Greenville, writes on his blog about being Catholic in a decidedly evangelical region:

St. Mary’s Catholic Church is located less than five miles from the campus of Bob Jones University in the Buckle of the Bible Belt, a part of the world in which many Protestants still regard Catholicism as a pagan cult pretending to be a Christian Church or, at best, a fatally compromised version of the true Gospel. In such an environment, those who are casual, cultural, and cafeteria Catholics quickly become either ex-Catholics or Evangelical Catholics, and that is paradoxically one of the reasons why our congregation and many other Southern parishes are flourishing: the unique challenge for Catholics seeking to live their Christian faith in the South leaves no room for spiritual mediocrity, doctrinal confusion, uncertain commitments, or a lukewarm interior life. (Unexpected Catholicism)

What he said to a Greenville News reporter was sure both to unite and to alienate Evangelicals and Catholics. Hitting upon that common conservative Christian motif of “abortion is the greatest evil on the planet today” and Democrats are evil because they support it, Newman suggested Catholics who voted for Obama might not be fit to receive communion:

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. (GreenvilleOnline.com)

The Greenville Times is even putting it on the front page, so to speak:


This is reminiscent of the calls in 2004 not to give communion to pro-choice Catholic candidates (read: John Kerry). CBS News explained it thusly:

It is unclear if pressure from the Boston archbishop will prevent Sen. John Kerry from taking communion this Easter Sunday in his home city because of the Democratic nominee’s support for abortion.

Amid questions of how Catholic leadership will respond to the pro-choice senator, Kerry’s archbishop — Boston’s own Sean O’Malley — has refused to clarify a statement last summer that pro-choice Catholics are in a state of grave sin and cannot take communion properly. (CBS)

Newman’s letter itself is here.

What next? People who are friends of voters who voted for candidates who are pro-choice have to get aboslution? Parishoners who touch dogs of friends who have friends who have friends who heard about someone who voted for Obama must confess?

This kind of blatantly political crap should be just cause for revoking a church’s tax exempt status.

Yet a few commenters put it in perfect perspective:

  • I am confused. Rev. Newman forgives John McCain for his sin of adultery; he forgives Sarah Palin for her sin of fornication and for raising a child to be a fornicator. On the other hand, he opposes a family man.
  • Maybe the priest should refrain from taking communion until the Roman Catholic Church does enough penance for it’s willful coverup of well over 10,000 child sexual abuse cases for decades.
  • This is the reason why the Catholic Church has no credibility what-so-ever.
  • Sorry Father. I am a practicing Catholic who attends mass each week at your Church. This election was multi-dimensional. I abhor abortion, but there were so many more issues involving human lives at stake last Tuesday. By the way, the headline of this week’s Catholic Miscellany, which you sent me reads “Pope Congratulates Obama on Election Win.” In the article, Pope Benedict says an awful lot of nice things about President-Elect Obama. Did you clear your opinion with Rome?
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