Stories have come to light since the election of Roman Catholic priests telling congregants who voted for Barack Obama that they need to go to confession before they can receive Communion.
In Greenville, S.C., the Rev. Jay Scott Newman of St. Mary’s Church distributed a letter to parishioners advising them that they put their souls at risk if they voted for Obama.
“Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law,” wrote Newman. “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.”
Under Catholic theology, congregants are not supposed to receive Communion if they have committed a “mortal” sin, considered the most serious type of offense. Once the sin is forgiven through an act of confession, the congregant is permitted to take part in Communion.
Newman denied his actions were partisan.
“It was not an attempt to make a partisan point,” Newman told the Associated Press. “In fact, in this election, for the sake of argument, if the Republican candidate had been pro-abortion and the Democratic candidate had been pro-life, everything that I wrote would have been exactly the same.”
Catholic officials at the Diocese of Charleston, which includes Greenville, quickly issued a statement reining in Newman.
“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,” said Monsignor Martin T. Laughlin in a statement. “Any comments or statements to the contrary are repudiated.”
Laughlin said Obama voters have no need to go to confession before taking part in Communion.
In Fairfield, Calif., a priest stands accused of assaulting a newspaper reporter who sought to question him about reports that the cleric criticized an Obama supporter during a religious service.
Ryan Chalk, a reporter with the Vacaville Reporter, tried to interview the Rev. Sebastian Meyer of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church about a story that was reported by a parishioner. The woman, Elizabeth Caster, said she was expelled from services for driving a car with an Obama sticker on it.
According to Caster, Meyer told the congregation, “We cannot have a car with Obama signs written on it on these premises. And I don’t care who Obama is. I want this car off the premises in 10 minutes or it will be towed.”
Meyer refused to talk to the reporter.
“He became very agitated,” Chalk told InsideBayArea.com. “He told me, ‘No, we’re not writing that. I did not touch her. I did not talk to her.’”
When Chalk attempted to continue the interview, he says Meyer lunged at him, clawing at his arm and trying to grab his notebook. Chalk ran off, threatening to call the police. He later filed an official police report.
“It was absolutely shocking,” Chalk said. “It’s the last thing I would expect from a priest. I mean, I’m sure this was not the first time he’s dealt with inquiries from the media, especially with his years in that position. He should know ways to step around it or simply say ‘I don’t wish to comment.’ That would have been fine.”
Ironically, the Catholic hierarchy might have been assisting Obama without even knowing it. A social policy arm of the church had donated money to an organization called the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN). During the campaign, conservatives attacked ACORN, arguing that its voter registration activities are partisan and designed to help Democrats.
Church officials announced they will discontinue funding of ACORN.