Obama and Consequences


My friend Jay Anderson over at his always well worth reading blog, has a story about Father Jay Scott Newman’s controversial decision that voters for Obama should do penance before receiving communion.  The anonymous comments are priceless.  Perhaps some of our readers would care to share their thoughts pro and con over there?  For the record, my guess is that Father Newman will quickly be taken to task by his Bishop and rightly so, but the howls of the Obamabots have to be read to be believed!

Update:  Good analysis by Ed Morrisey over at Hot Air.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. (Preface: I have a great amount of respect for Fr Newman and the work he’s done. I’ve been a fan of his since the old Pontifications days.)

    My humble opinion as a layman: Fr Newman ought to have exhorted his parishoners to examine their conscience carefully to see if it was in line with Catholic teaching on material cooperation with evil and proportionality, or, better yet, walked them THROUGH it. (I wouldn’t be surprised if this already happened, actually)

    THEN, tell them that if they were out of line then they should confess prior to receiving.

    Just assuming that because a Catholic voted for Obama they were guilty of mortal sin was presumptuous.

    Also, saying “voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil.” isn’t totally accurate, I think. If I understand correctly (I’m open to correction here) a Catholic could licitely vote for McCain, who supports ESCR (I know not 100% supports, but let’s not quibble on this for the sake of the argument) and is therefore NOT pro-life in the proper sense, due to proportionality (in order to limit the evil done by the more pro-abortion candidate). Obviously, voting third party or abstaining are defensible positions for a Catholic as well.

    Since McCain supports ESCR, those of us who voted for him are guilty of material cooperation with intrinsic evil as well, yes? Do we have to confess? Or does proportionality absolve us of that?

    If a Catholic Obama supporter was convinced (deluded, IMO) into believing that his administration would reduce abortions, were they guilty of mortal sin? Or just terribly wrong? How does Fr Newman know the difference?

  2. I don’t think anyone knows what the Church’s teaching is on voting and abortion because the Bishops disagree with each other. It’s hard to hear what they are trying to say, even when you pay really close attention.

  3. Perhaps Fr. Newman’s brave stand will compel some of the sorry bench of bishops to teach clearly. But pigs may take wing first.

    Good on Fr. Newman. It needs to be said.

  4. Just noticed that it’s made Drudge. I agree with Chris that it is presumptuous to say voting for Obama required penance, and I think it was particularly unwise to do so in a letter. Here’s the relevant text per the AP:

    “Our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president,” Newman wrote, referring to Obama by his full name, including his middle name of Hussein.
    “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.”

  5. Reading the text, it appears Father did not say explicitly that those who voted for Obama need to do penance. One could believe, in the language of the letter, that McCain was not a ‘plausible pro-life alternative’. For instance, I thought it would be very difficult for McCain to appoint judges unsympathetic to Roe with a Democratic Senate, and that his support for ESCR meant he was not really ‘pro-life’. For these reasons, McCain may not have been a ‘plausible pro-life alternative’. However, the extreme nature of Obama’s pro-choice record should have been a serious obstacle for Catholics.

  6. He jumped noggin-first into secular politics. Bad idea but great execution. Sad to say, many of our fellow RCs either don’t know about abortion as a grave sin or are too muddled to grasp it. Padre Newman’s exhortation appears after the fact. Or else he violates the unspoken rule in New Zealand- the tall poppy gets chopped off. But he didn’t get much direction from his, and our, own shepherds. The USCCB statement this week was wild, bold and way out there, compared to the usual peace and justice and blahblahblah and we still have hope. Archbishop Chaput, The Shepherd For Our Time, is the one who sets the bar on this stuff, particularly with that fine read Render Unto Caesar at bookstores somewhere. Capture the good Archbishop’s pitch and tone and you’re OK. But I do like the good Padre’s style. Hee hee.

  7. The poor cleric should perform due penance for either (a) his willfull and knowledgeable abusing of his parishioners’ consciences, or, (b) his inexcusable ignorance of proper Church teahing, in the light of the special and not-to be-taken for granted teaching, pastoring and leadership charisms conferred upon him, through ordination,

    These examples make me consider going all NonConformist and Dissident, in my weaker moments…

  8. I’m only a lay-woman, a trained Catechist but no “Doctor of the Church.” I have no important degrees nor have I written “scholarly papers on the subjects of Church Teaching and the finer points of Canon Law.

    I am a middle aged “Baby-Boomer,” that was too young to understand Rowe verses Wade decision. I did not go through the crisis of an unwanted pregnancy.

    Naively I supported “Planned Parenthood” as a young woman until I learned some family history and how my grandfather’s sister who had been in college to be a school teacher in the early 1930s was swayed by Communists and worked for Margaret Sanger in Detroit Michigan, and died not from influenza, but a botched abortion her “lover” insisted she have to “prove” herself to the cause.

    I have taken women I know that had abortions BACK to a medical practitioner because of complications from abortion that they were not told about at the time. And prayed for both them and the child they aborted.

    There is trauma to the process, physically, mentally and especially spiritually, to the woman or girl, and to those that participate in the action. I cannot think of a good reason to abort a child in the womb.

    But I know abortion is an intrinsic evil, and those that endorse, encourage or consent are committing a grave mortal sin. More dire because it spills over into some many other areas of life.

  9. Poor Father got his hand slapped from above:

    Here’s the written statement from Monsignor Martin Laughlin, administrator of the Diocese of Charleston:

    CHARLESTON, S.C. (November 14, 2008) – This past week, the Catholic Church’s clear, moral teaching on the evil of abortion has been pulled into the partisan political arena. 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.” 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. Let us pray for them and ask God to guide them as they take the mantle of leadership on January 20, 2009. I ask also for your continued prayers for me and for the Diocese of Charleston

  10. ” Therefore, if a person has formed his or her conscience well”

    Well, that’s the real trick, isn’t it? Can a well formed conscience ignore every Bishop that’s spoken out and vote for the most pro-abortion senator and presidential candidate in US history?

    Anyway, yes, Fr Newman overstepped.

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