Greenville, SC: Fr. Newman’s post-election bulletin

At St. Mary’s in Greenville, SC, Fr. J. Scott Newman issued the following.

My emphases.

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
9 November 2008

Dear Friends in Christ,

We the People have spoken, and the 44th President of the United States will be Barack Hussein Obama. This election ends a political process that started two years ago and which has revealed deep and bitter divisions within the United States and also within the Catholic Church in the United States. This division is sometimes called a “Culture War,” by which is meant a heated clash between two radically different and incompatible conceptions of how we should order our common life together, the public life that constitutes civil society. And the chief battleground in this culture war for the past 30 years has been abortion, which one side regards as a murderous abomination that cries out to Heaven for vengeance and the other side regards as a fundamental human right that must be protected in laws enforced by the authority of the state. Between these two visions of the use of lethal violence against the unborn there can be no negotiation or conciliation,  and now 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. We must also take note of the fact that this election was effectively decided by the votes of self-described (but not practicing) Catholics, the majority of whom cast their ballots for President-elect Obama.

In response to this, I am obliged by my duty as your shepherd to make two observations:

1. 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.

2. Barack Obama, although we must always and everywhere disagree with him over abortion, has been duly elected the next President of the United States, and after he takes the Oath of Office next January 20th, he will hold legitimate authority in this nation. For this reason, we are obliged by Scriptural precept to pray for him and to cooperate with him whenever conscience does not bind us otherwise. Let us hope and pray that the responsibilities of the presidency and the grace of God will awaken in the conscience of this extraordinarily gifted man an awareness that the unholy slaughter of children in this nation is the greatest threat to the peace and security of the United States and constitutes a clear and present danger to the common good. In the time of President Obama’s service to our country, let us pray for him in the words of a prayer found in the Roman Missal:

God our Father, all earthly powers must serve you. Help our President-elect, Barack Obama, to fulfill his responsibilities worthily and well. By honoring and striving to please you at all times, may he secure peace and freedom for the people entrusted to him. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

Amen.

Father Newman

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185 Responses to Greenville, SC: Fr. Newman’s post-election bulletin

  1. Volpius says:

    God bless Father Newman, what he said in point one is the logical state of people who voted for Obama nice to see a Priest with the courage to say it.

  2. Thomas says:

    Amazing how effectively a priest (or bishop) can teach when he loves truth above political correctness.

    Reading that, I was having visions of Batman-style >>KA-POW<>WHAM<<s.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    It is rare when I say “wow” aloud after reading something. This was one of those rare times.

  4. Anne Scanlon says:

    Oh that this could be printed in the bulletin of every parish in the USA …..Thank you Father Newman.

  5. KK says:

    Part II will be in the confessional when he needs to remind them that there must be sincere contrition for their vote before absolution can be granted. Perhaps penance can be 4 years of prayer vigils at an abortion clinic.

  6. Chris says:

    What a fanstastic statement. God bless this priest — he’s going to need it.

  7. momoften says:

    All Priests should give a correction of conscious for their lack of backbone in giving the proper guidance in this past election. One local bulletin in a parish nearby had the pastor giving his nod to BOTH candidates saying they were both well qualified, and patriotic. I wanted to puke. Of course on election day morning, there were many who attended Mass with Obama stickers on themselves, and their cars–.Very sad indeed. It is a sad state of the Catholic Church in America.

  8. Brian Mershon says:

    Here is the coverage in today’s Greenville News.

    http://www.greenvilleonline.com/article/20081113/NEWS01/811130314&referrer=FRONTPAGECAROUSEL

    He was on local and syndicated talk radio today and with two TV interviews this evening. Please pray for him.

    Lots of people, both within and without, will not like this. Keep him in your pryaers.

  9. Vicki says:

    After I picked my jaw up off the keyboard, I also gasped, “WOW!”

    He will definitely be in my prayers. I imagine it’s going to get hot for him in Greenville.

    Thank God for priests who are not afraid to speak the truth! (Fr. Z. included!)

  10. Kradcliffe says:

    But… what if the other candidate approved of abortions in cases of rape and incest? That’s still evil, so voting for that candidate is still material cooperation with evil.

  11. Allison says:

    I needed to hear this kind of courage today, especially after reading on Father R’s blog, Orthometer, that Raymond Arroyo of EWTN is quoted as saying he believes 1/2 of our Bishops VOTED FOR Obama!

  12. Brian says:

    The Curt Jester reports that Raymond Arroyo was on the Laura Ingrahm show and reported that Bishops that Mr. Arroyo spoke with told him that about half the Bishops voted for Obama. (http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/archives/2008/11/voting-bishops.php)

    “Laura Ingraham: Here is the problem, how many of the bishops voted for Obama.

    “Raymond Arroyo: …The bishops I spoke to say that maybe half of their brother bishops if not more voted for Obama. Because they thought the symbol of Obama would overcome racism and be a great healer and unity.”

    I don’t know what to make of that.

  13. ckdexterhaven says:

    Being a holy priest isn’t easy. God gave Father Newman the gift of courage. May his brother priests, and the bishops be inspired by this beautifully written letter. Pray for priests, and pray for Obama. Pray also, for the conversion of the pro choice Catholics in Congress.

  14. Charles says:

    I can’t understand the Catholic thinking when it comes to electing a man for president. I understand the issues, but even the pharisees would support what keeps them in power.

    I will teach my children as best I can about God’s laws. I really don’t need or want government involvement. Do you honestly believe the republicans would have overturned Roe V Wade?

  15. Matt Q says:

    All Priests should give a correction of conscious for their lack of backbone in giving the proper guidance in this past election. One local bulletin in a parish nearby had the pastor giving his nod to BOTH candidates saying they were both well qualified, and patriotic. I wanted to puke. Of course on election day morning, there were many who attended Mass with Obama stickers on themselves, and their cars… Very sad indeed. It is a sad state of the Catholic Church in America.

    Comment by momoften

    )(

    Yes, too bad this is the case. Very sad indeed. Now the lack of backbone is very evident with our clergy. Had they had any they would have told all those proclaiming their gospel of Obama ( which is indeed what they believe ) not to bother coming up for Communion because the Church has spoken on what the consequences are.

    Alas though again, our clergy is all talk and no action. They speak lofty pronouncements but do nothing to back it up. Case in point, all the blah blah blah condemning the advocating or promoting of abortion by the bishops, Biden’s bishop said he wouldn’t tell him not to go to Communion or deny him such.

    http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=1093

    The bishop is quoted, “I won’t politicize the Eucharist,” and added, “I don’t want to alienate people. I want to change their hearts and minds.”

    Proof no behavior disqualifies anyone from Communion with this bishop, and many others I dare say!

  16. ThomasB says:

    Fr. Newman made Brit Hume’s news program on Fox tonight!

  17. Brian says:

    Charles,
    If Catholics refused to vote for candidates who support the murder of unborn children, politicians would appoint Supreme Court Justices who would overturn Roe v Wade. All it would take is for Catholics to vote against anyone who favors legalized infanticide.

  18. Jason says:

    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.

    I have two questions:

    1) What is meant by “plausible.”

    2) What is a “pro-life” candidate? For example, if a candidate supports abortion in limited instances, are they a pro-life candidate?

  19. Michael J says:

    Jason,

    In this past Presidential election, the answer to both of your questions could legitimatlly be “Anyone who is not Obama”

  20. Charles says:

    Brian,
    I get what your saying, but if the people rose up and decided not to abort their children then the politicians would pass the law and pat themselves on the back for doing it.

    In my humble opinion, the abortion issue should be bottom up, not top down. We’re supposed to be here to fish for God. Cesar has his hands full.

  21. magdalene says:

    God bless Fr. Newman. I have known of him for some years as a friend of mine was once in that parish and used to call me to speak of the sermon he heard, etc.

    As for not politicizing the Eucharist–how well has that dialogue pastoral tack worked so far???

    Half the bishops voting for obama? No surprise. That is down from what it might have been a few eyars ago. May God grant us HOLY bishops who will always and everywhere follow the teachings of the Holy Church over some earthly lesser ‘goods’.

  22. Jason says:

    In this past Presidential election, the answer to both of your questions could legitimatlly be “Anyone who is not Obama”

    My questions were not meant about last election, but any election. Isn\’t being pro-life an objective reality? Does a politician become pro-life just because they support less abortions than another politician they are running against?

  23. Lisa says:

    I think the answer regarding this election is clear. Obama has pledged to push the Freedom of Choice Act, and he and his Demo-Catholic allies have made their positions well known.

    It’s not a question of whether McCain can/would overturn Roe v. Wade. It’s obvious that the Obama White House will push the issue in the other direction, and will have plenty of support in Congress. Why would a faithful Catholic vote for that outcome? Why wouldn’t they vote against it?

  24. Kradcliffe says:

    Well. I just saw this news story on the Yahoo news headlines… Now that the election is over, the press will cover these things, especially if they think it will make the Church look bad. BEFORE the election, when they thought it might sway voters, these stories never made it off the back page, if they made the news at all…

  25. Irenaeus says:

    Charles,

    Apply that to any other issue where human persons deserve the full protection of the law — slavery, child abuse, rape, murder — and you’ll see it doesn’t work. We need both laws that protect, instead of assaulting, the unborn and continuing efforts to change hearts and minds. Don’t fall into a false either-or.

    See further here and here.

  26. Andy says:

    All I could say is WOW. God bless this faithful priest!

  27. Woody Jones says:

    I absolutley and fully support Fr Newman’s stand here, but might offer a small quibble: perhaps he should have qualified the phrase “material cooperation” with the word “unjust”, so as to be a little more precise. Some types of “material cooperation” may not be sinful, it seems. Here is a quote from the old Catholic Encyclopedia on “Accomplice”

    The teaching with regard to this subject-matter is very plain, and may be stated in this wise: Formal cooperation is never lawful, since it presupposes a manifestly sinful attitude on the part of the will of the accomplice. Material complicity is held to be justified when it is brought about by an action which is in itself either morally good or at any rate indifferent, and when there is a sufficient reason for permitting on the part of another the sin which is a consequence of the action. The reason for this assertion is patent; for the action of the accomplice is assumed to be unexceptionable, his intention is already bespoken to be proper, and he cannot be burdened with the sin of the principal agent, since there is supposed to be a commensurately weighty reason for not preventing it. Practically, however, it is often difficult to apply these principles, because it is hard to determine whether the cooperation is formal or only material, and also whether the reason alleged for a case of material cooperation bears due proportion to the grievousness of the sin committed by the principal, and the intimacy of the association with him. It is especially the last-named factor which is a fruitful source of perplexity. In general, however, the following considerations will be of value in discerning whether in an instance of material cooperation the reason avowed is valid or not. The necessity for a more and more powerful reason is accentuated in proportion as there is

    *a greater likelihood that the sin would not be committed without the act of material cooperation;
    *a closer relationship between the two; and
    *a greater heinousness in the sin, especially in regard to harm done either to the common weal or some unoffending third party.

    I would think that in the case of the election, the last bullet point is clearly involved, but from what I have seen of the debate on the issue, it is precisely on the question of whether there is a proportionate reason such that it would vitiate the formal nature of the cooperation with the evil of abortion. Of course I side with Archbishop Chaput, the lion of the American bishops, on this, i.e., there is no such proportionate reason, but it looks like others thought was such a reason. In that case, then, there *might* not have been formal cooperation with the evil, but the material cooperation would be sufficient to condemn the voter if the material cooperation was unjust due to the heinous nature of the crime being cooperated in.

  28. Charlie says:

    I sympathize with both Jason and Charles. Were all of the Republicans who voted for Mccain in the primaries complicit in a moral evil since there were alternatives like Ron Paul who sought to restore government to its rightful place ,under the constitution, and maintain a strong pro-life stance? Remeber that McCain supports fetal stem cell research.

  29. Charles says:

    Irenaeus,

    Thank you for the links; interesting reading to say the least. Perhaps we will see the change in our lifetime; in the mean time, I’m trying not to fall into the false either-or; but I’ll try to raise mine right.

  30. Chris says:

    This is now a national Associated Press story which will be in the majority of papers tomorrow and almost certain to run on the international wire:

    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D94EB4BO0&show_article=1

    It is also linked to on the Drudge Report with 2 million daily readers.

    Father may be in for a tough time. He’s going to need prayers AND public support.

  31. PMcGrath says:

    I hope someone has sent Father Newman’s dossier to the Congregation for Bishops — for promotion, that is!

  32. God bless this priest for speaking the Truth…it’s tough being politically incorrect in this world.

  33. Mike says:

    Kradcliffe,

    There were more than two candidates, and you can always refrain from voting or write-in.

    Mike

  34. BobP says:

    “But… what if the other candidate approved of abortions in cases of rape and incest? That’s still evil, so voting for that candidate is still material cooperation with evil.”

    Exactly. And if the Church really believes that the birth control pill is abortifacient and can cause many abortions throughout a woman’s lifetime, then it should also warn against warning against voting for pro-choice BCP. I understand the BCP was the first thing that the US introduced in Iraq. Some pro-life message.

  35. Brian says:

    Charles,
    Although ideally abortion would stop from the “bottom up,” in reality that is highly unlikely. Slavery was not abolished because slave owners decided to free them; the South did not desegregate because White Southerners gained greater racial awareness. In these cases and many others, first a law forbid those unjust practices, then minds and hearts changed.

    Top-down and bottom-up are both needed; but our country is aborting a million little ones a year. This is a horrible misjustice and needs to be made illegal.

    If we start at the very bottom, something tells me that if the unborn could vote, they would not have voted for Obama.

  36. Rancher says:

    Father’s position is getting a lot of attention on CNN, MSNBC etc. The reader feedback is brutal and isn’t helped by Sister Get’s It Wrong the USCCB “spokesperson”. Why The Bishops let her speak for them amazes me as she almost never emphasizes real Catholic teaching but instead gives politically correct mush…I guess on second thought I DO understand why the Bishops let her speak.

    In any event we need to support Fr. Newman every way we can because the 54% of so-called Catholic Obama voters are ripping him apart. God Bless you Fr. Newman!

  37. bob s says:

    It is about time that someone has the intestinal fortitude to say that a vote for that man, promotes and affirms the right of one to kill another human being. God Bless Father Newman. I can almost guarantee that the good Father will be villified and excoriated, but I hope that in the end it might change the mind of Mr Obama with regard to abortion.

    My biggest gripe these days are those progressives who are pro choice and feel it is ok to hypocritically approach the communion rail to receive.

    Thank Heaven the clergy is not unionized! (you don’t suppose they’ll try to accomplish that under the Obama administration?)

  38. Liam says:

    There are a few logical elisions in this one, however rapturously it is being received here.

  39. mysticalrose says:

    I agree with those who are pondering the question of what constitutes a pro-life candidate (Jason, Charlie, Kradcliffe, et al). The bottomline is that if abortion is an intrinsic evil — it is always an intrinsic evil. Since McCain was not against abortion in all cases (or BCP, or fetal stem cell research), a vote for McCain would also have to be considered material cooperation in an intrinsic evil. Where does that leave us, considering that the Bishops made explicit that refraining from voting was a mortal sin?!

  40. Rancher says:

    Where did you (mysticalrose) ever hear or read that the Bishops said that refraining from voting was a mortal sin? I’ve followed the Bishops’ statements closely and never heard that.

    If one reads what has been written by the most pro-life, outspoken Bishops it was possible to vote for the clearly lesser of two evils. The majority of Catholics, however, voted for the most evil of the two.

  41. Charlie says:

    Brian,

    When force and coercion are employed to achieve good ends, the conversion of men’s hearts and minds is rarely achieved. Good law is important to diminish the negative effects of man’s sinfullness. However, you site the abolishion of slavery as an example of good law, but you fail to mention that it came at the cost of 600,000 American lives from a war that violated Catholic just war principles. Why isn’t there ever a discussion of the proper use of authority and power when it comes to achieving good ends. My hope is that Catholics will start to recognize the abuse of power perpetrated by the federal government as the enabling factor in these moral dilemas. All of the good measures limiting abortions at the federal level over the past few years will be undone because these “good laws” have, in fact, not changed the hearts and minds of men. The most “efficient” solution of executive orders invoked by Pres. Bush will be undone by executive order by Pres. Obama. I would hope to see the Church rise up as a competing influence to the State, not as one of its agents. “For all that take the sword shall perish with the sword” Matthew 26:52

    Let me state, I applaud Fr. Newman for his courageous stand and I agree that a Catholic would have to do some severe intellectual gymnastics to rationalize a vote for Obama. I would further argue, however, that much of the power that the President wields does not fall under the umbrella of his “legitimate” authority. Our consciences should lead us to restore the entire federal government to its constitutional power rather than its current “expanded” power so that abortion and any future moral evils can never receive the positive support of government. Then then we can set out on our task of evangelization with Christ and His Church as our leader.

  42. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    The problem is Fr. Newman while well intentioned is a horrible theologian. To vote for McCain was to materially cooperate with grave evil, because of his anti-life positions. This could be justified by proportional reasons, but it is still to material cooperate with grave evil. So when Fr. Newman implies that only those that voted for Obama materially cooperated with grave evil, he is wrong. I also can not stand his horrible ecclesiology. A person that cooperates materially with grave evil, might be guilty of a mortal sin, but being in a state of mortal sin does not place you outside of full communion with the Catholic Church. Where do these priests go to seminary?! So my prediction is that the liberal theologians that are smarter than Fr. Newman, will easily point out the poor theology in this note, and use it to further their bad agenda. Where is the humility in Catholics? Why don’t they send these statements to theologians to be critiqued before they send them to the press?!

  43. Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    Fr. Newman’s preamble is perhaps the best statement of the status questionis that I have seen anywhere (this fellow has also read his A. MacIntyre, it seems). In part II, Fr. Newman shows that pastoral sensitivity needs “anatomy” in order to be really effective, and that filial piety is perfectly compatible, indeed a prerequisite of the true and responsible exercise of human freedom.

    The formulation of (I), however, is theologically imprecise and misrepresents the standing doctrine on the matter, as articulated in then Card. Ratzinger’s 2004 response. I do not question Fr.’s good faith, and I am in broad agreement with his statements. Nevertheless, as a strict, technical matter, (I) is incorrect, as the following shall demonstrate:

    1. (I) begins with the words, “Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil”. This formulation presents two difficulties, to wit: a) voting for a pro-choice candidate is always co-operation with evil, regardless of whether there is a “plausible” pro-life candidate. Thus, the formulation gives the false impression that the moral status of the act is not only possibly conditioned, but entirely established by circumstance, and this is false. b) while voting for a pro-choice candidate is always to co-operate with evil, there are different kinds of co-operation. There is formal co-operation, direct material co-operation, and remote material co-operation. In the voting booth, the kind of co-operation in which one engages by pulling the lever for a pro-choice candidate is determined by the reason, and the moral reasoning process that has brought one to the judgment that informs the act. E.G. if one votes for pro-choice candidate N because of N’s pro-choice stance, then one formally co-operates in evil and should not present oneself for Holy Communion. If one votes for N despite N’s pro-choice stance, then one engages in remote material co-operation, and remote material co-operation is morally permissible in the presence of proportionate reasons. Further, and most importantly, the judgment regarding the presence of proportionate reasons is one of prudence, a judgment that each individual must make, by exercising his practical reason; while conscience informs practical reason, it does not substitute it.

    There are certainly grounds for disagreeing with the prudential judgment of people who voted for president-elect Obama; no such grounds, however well established, can provide a window into the conscience.

    From the preceding, it follows that Fr. Newman’s conclusion is unwarranted. It does not follow that, “Catholics who [vote for pro-choice candidates, etc.] place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law.”

    That, “Persons in this condition [outside the full communion, etc.] 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,” is certainly true. Church teaching does not warrant Fr. Newman’s sweeping judgment, however, as a correct application of the pertinent principles of moral reasoning informed by Catholic faith shows.

  44. Jordanes says:

    Christopher Sarsfield said: To vote for McCain was to materially cooperate with grave evil, because of his anti-life positions. This could be justified by proportional reasons, but it is still to material cooperate with grave evil. So when Fr. Newman implies that only those that voted for Obama materially cooperated with grave evil, he is wrong.

    The notion that Fr. Newman implied that only those who voted for Obama materially cooperated with grave evil seems to be all in your mind. You can’t find fault with what he said, so you object to something that you claim without evidence that he implied.

    I also can not stand his horrible ecclesiology. A person that cooperates materially with grave evil, might be guilty of a mortal sin, but being in a state of mortal sin does not place you outside of full communion with the Catholic Church.

    So you’re saying that someone in a state of mortal sin is permitted to receive Communion? Can someone who is obligated not to receive Communion really be in “full” Communion?

    Recall that Lumen Gentium 14 admonishes Catholics that “He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a ‘bodily’ manner and not ‘in his heart.’”

    Sounds rather like something less than “full” Communion, eh?

    I think Father Newman understands these things better than you do, and I think your criticisms are rash and not particularly marked by the humility that you lament as so lacking in Catholics.

  45. johnny b says:

    This discussion makes me think of the movie, BRAVEHEART.

    If thousands of pastors would put this letter in their respective bulletins we would restore the order………..much like Scotland united.

    When William Wallace removed the helmet to find his own friend fighting against him, it is much the same with our American Bishops. I felt the wind go out of my sails when Raymond said that 50% of the bishops voted for Barrack.

  46. Jacob says:

    The Curt Jester had an even more depressing statistic that I read tonight:

    45% of Mass-going Catholics voted for Obama.

    I don’t know where Mr. Miller got that number, but in itself, it is depressing.

    Father Newman’s only fault was in using Obama’s middle name, but that’s just a PC quibble on my part, though he could have saved himself at least some grief by omitting it.

  47. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Jordanes,

    If this is not about Obama and McCain, then I apologize. It was my understanding that this was the position being addressed. With regard to LG 14, I believe my interpretation is more in line with the teachings of Pius XII and the document itself. The beginning of the paragraph you cite says:

    “They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops.”

    It is clear that fully incorporated includes those who unhappily are not in a state of grace, yet are Catholic. Perhaps you could tell us how you can be fully incorporated in the Church and separated from full communion with the Church at the same time?

  48. Central Valley Catholic says:

    Thanks be to GOD for sending us men like Fr. Newman. Fr. Newmans persecutions are to come so we must pray very very hard for him. Fr. said what the sheperds should. God be with him. If he had said this in the diocese of Fresno, Ca. he would have already been suspended.

  49. Patrick says:

    Sarsfield.

    Are you sure you are not Sienfeld? Anyway, did you ever here the phrase “spirit of the law.”
    It would seem that you are a “letter of the law” person, and a “never met a loophole” you would not employ, if it made YOU feel better. The “spirit of the law” in this case is employed to save lives, and does not concern itself with what so and so believes, but what is it they can do or will do, or what is the preponderance of evidence suggesting wbat which will be their course of action, based on, in this case, “own words” history of voting, general attitude, political associations etc. and indeed, this is not rocket science and the record it clear. If I vote for a pro abort mayor, for example, it would not matter, because abortion is not a municipal issue, whereas a President is able to enact executive orders that immediately effect lives, specifically the unborn in this discussion. Your retorts, whether playing devil’s advocate or seriously questioning a quite obvious principal concerning the saving of lives, is really getting tiring. You ought to think about these things in a less superficial manner, with all due respect.

    John McCain has a 100% pro life voting record and Obama is a NARAL poster boy 100%. Does that give you a clue. Who would appoint pro life judges? Who would sign pro life legislation? Who would fight for you tax dollars not funding abortions?

    On the other hand: Who would enact laws to strike down such things as concience clauses, making liable doctors who refuse to perform abortions. Who would strike down all laws mitigating abortions on the books now? Who would strike down the Hyde amendment. Who would apply litmus tests to Supreme court nominees re: Abortion rights?

  50. Warren says:

    The Spirit is a movin’! Pray that more Catholics pose less resistance to the action of the Holy Spirit and boldly proclaim the truth.

    And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (St. Luke 18:6-8)

  51. Kradcliffe says:

    Chris Altieri’s comments above struck me as spot-on. This priest has made a leap of logic that disregards the fact that someone can still vote for a pro-choice candidate without committing a mortal sin. You may think they’re wrong or very badly mistaken in their reasoning in picking a candidate, but being mistaken isn’t really a mortal sin.

  52. Jordanes says:

    Christopher Sarsfield said: Perhaps you could tell us how you can be fully incorporated in the Church and separated from full communion with the Church at the same time?

    By being in a state of mortal sin and thereby not being able to receive Holy Communion without it bringing damnation on you, obviously.

    Or do the words “full communion” mean “full except for no Communion”?

    It’s most improper to take the first part of a paragraph of a dogmatic constitution and pit it against the second part. You have to read both parts together.

    I don’t see anything wrong with what Father Newman said about people who are unfit to receive Communion due to mortal sin being in a state of impaired communion — and objectively a vote for Obama would have been a mortal sin, though each individual’s case is be different, with factors that may mitigate culpability.

  53. Liam says:

    Among the elisions of logic is that the writer studiously avoids filling in the terms (which themselves contain elisions) in the first sentence of proposition 1. (Since it’s after Election Day, there’s no tax reason he had to avoid that, so it must be because he realized he could not do so without other problems.) Most people have plugged them in themselves, but when you unpack it all, this becomes more creaky however gratifyingly crystalline it may seem.

  54. Dear Jordanes,

    I am very sorry, but I do not see any ground whatever upon which to base a case for your assertion, “Objectively a vote for Obama would have been a mortal sin,” and you offer none. Also, when you talk about peoples’ circumstances being different, and go on to say that these may mitigate culpability, I simply do not follw you. You use words that moral theologians use, but I cannot see how they present a theologically intelligible position in this case. Could you please elaborate?

  55. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Patrick,

    First I care about the truth, but hey if there is a good end maybe the truth can take a back seat.

    With regard to McCain National Right to Life gave him a 75 rating, and Rick Santorum has said that McCain would consistently keep pro-life legislation from coming to the floor, but if you want to live in your own dream world who I am to wake you up.

    Finally, if you do not know how to respond to what I have written with substance, I would suggest not saying anything rather than ad hominem attacks. They tend to give away your ignorance, and they really are not worthy of Catholic.

  56. BobP says:

    “In this past Presidential election, the answer to both of your questions could legitimatlly be “Anyone who is not Obama” ”

    Hillary would have been a lot worse.

  57. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Jordanes,

    How about a consistent line of reasoning. First you tell me that I am wrong to accuse Fr. Newman of speaking about Obama and McCain. Then you bring up Obama and McCain. Well is Fr. Newman talking about the last presidential election or not?

    With regard to your ecclesiology are you really saying this:

    If a person is in a state of mortal sin, he places himself outside of full communion with the Catholic Church?

    Placing one outside of full communion with the Church is a phrase applied to protestants, and bishops that consecrate other bishops without papal mandate, it is not applied to Catholics in good standing. Finally, it is you that is taking the second half of the paragraph and making it contradict the rest of the paragraph. If you and Fr. Newman want to give new definitions to phrases, it is a free country, but do not expect people to understand what you mean, when you use them in a way that goes against the accepted meaning. Since Mystici Corporis no one defends that idea that Catholics who do not possess sanctifying grace are somehow less Catholic than those who do. As the Council said those who do not maintain charity are still in the bosom of the Church. The part about not being in the “heart” is poetic, and is not to be taken literally. You can not distinguish between those that dwell in the Body of Christ and those that dwell in the “Heart of Christ.”

  58. tertullian says:

    from the story in the AP:

    A Boston-based group that supports Catholic Democrats questioned the move, saying it was too extreme.

    “Father Newman is off-base,” said Steve Krueger, national director of Catholic Democrats. “He is acting beyond the authority of a parish priest to say what he did. … Unfortunately, he is doing so in a manner that will be of great cost to those parishioners who did vote for Sens. Obama and Biden. There will be a spiritual cost to them for his words.”

    and exactly who left them in charge of Catholic doctrine?

  59. EDG says:

    BobP -
    Hillary might have been about the same (very pro-abortion) but I’m not sure she would have directly challenged the Church as Obama and the people behind him did. Naming Biden as the VP candidate was a direct challenge, and letting Pelosi and Biden go around claiming to teach Catholic doctrine and even correct the bishops was also a challenge. This campaign was particularly aggressive in confronting the Church.

    Hence, I really don’t see how any Catholic could have voted for Obama in good conscience. Many of the bishops, including the bishops responsible for Pelosi and Biden, made a little demurral and then politely dropped the subject and never challenged either of them. But this campaign actually went beyond the usual pro-abortion stuff and was an assault on the teaching and moral authority of the Church. Sadly, judging by the vote, it was a successful challenge (as the result of 40 years of failure to teach).

  60. George Bush was the “pro-life” candidate in 1988 (as opposed to William Clinton), and he appointed David Souter to the bench.

    It’s not all so easy, is it? I mean, this seeming equation that 1) vote Republican 2) get pro-life judges 3) overturn Roe vs. Wade.

    Supreme Court Justices wield enormous power precisely because they serve for life.

    In the 35 yrs. since Roe vs. Wade, Republicans have held power for 23.

  61. Remeber that McCain supports fetal stem cell research.

    I believe he has repudiated that position, claiming science has pointed us in another direction.

    George Bush was the “pro-life” candidate in 1988 (as opposed to William Clinton), and he appointed David Souter to the bench.

    Bill Clinton ran in ’92. In any event, President Bush also appointed Clarence Thomas and has said Souter was the greatest disappointment of his presidency.

  62. Akira Yamadori says:

    Although I am pro-life, I voted for Obama because I think that john McCain is a militarist who would have initiated more wars in the model of the Iraq War, Afganistan etc. He and his supporters had already stated as much. This mentality has all but bankrupted our own government, spending 10 billion dollars a day, on a war which we should never have begun. Iraq was not our enemy. Osama bin-Laden was. Afganistan was not our enemy either. Al-queda was. It is better to let a movement die out on it’s own rather than initiate 5-6 wars to try to destroy them. Bush and McCain/Palin never learn that with people like bin-Laden and al-Queda, the more attention you give them, the more they love it. The more you attack them, the stronger they get. Ignore them, and eventually they will go away. I was against McCain/Palin because they would start more wars. They would run to Israel’s defense in a second.
    With regards to abortion, I am pro-life, but the rhetoric I heard from some Catholics, and especially some Pentecostalist right-wing Christians such as Palin’s people were so unyielding, so hateful, and condemnatory that I tuned it out. Considering all the other issues that are wrecking our country (I see many homeless people on TV), and in Philadelphia , that I could not let just 1 issue govern how I voted.
    My family is relatively new to the USA (we came from Japan in 1988). My aprents remember as children the dictatorial regime in Japan during WWII (the Emperor, believe it or not was only a figurehead even then, a clique of militarists really ran the show). The rhetoric of McCain/Palin reminded them of the intolerant and inflammatory speeches of these people.
    Now, so do the rhetoric of the right-wing Christians such as Palin and her Republicans.
    Let us hope that they NEVER run the country. It is awesome to be pro-life and anti-abortion, but all their other sick views is what made be vote against McCain/Palin and for Barack Omaba/Joe Biden.

  63. I am very sympathetic to the views of this priest on many levels. I think one faulty aspect of his position is that for something to be mortal sin, it must not only be serious matter, it must also involve full knowledge and full consent. (“I know this is seriously wrong, I am going to do it anyway.”) How culpable someone may be for the sin of voting for a pro-choice candidate is a question that needs discerning and one cannot simply assume that a person is in mortal sin and needs to make a confession before approaching the Chalice because they voted a certain way. Clearly based on the statistics, there were enough Catholics who either a) were not aware of the moral implications of their decision or b) cared not one iota about the moral implications of casting a vote for him Obama to demonstrate varying levels of moral confusion, malformation and/or willful wrongdoing among our co-religionists. This is not to excuse everyone, but nor does it implicate all of them in mortal sin.

    To Dr. Lee’s point, it is not simply a matter of voting “Republican” – there are certainly other pro-life presidential candidates on the ballot – but of treating the position of each candidate vis-a-vis “life” as a “price of admission” for considering them a viable, moral choice. Unfortunately, too many Catholics failed to use that as the measure of their vote.

    God bless, Fr. Newman, for taking such a courageous stand! I do believe, however, that his stand requiring confession of any of the Obama-voting members of his flock before approaching Holy Communion to be somewhat excessive. Rather, I would think that he should have highlighted the serious matter (prior to the election ideally) of such a vote, as well as afterwards, helping them to understand what constitutes mortal sin and why it is best avoided or confessed with full repentance.

    Regarding VP-elect Joe Biden’s bishop’s statement, it is not simply a matter of “politicizing the Eucharist” but rather of holding one of his own flock who is complicit – and unrepentantly and publicly so – in the crime of murder of the innocent unborn accountable for admitting and repenting of his sins. I pray that this shepherd has the courage to correct one of his flock – one of his spiritual sons – to lead him (and others) in the path of righteousness, as opposed to personal damnation.

  64. michael r. says:

    Did anyone watch the last presidential debate? Did McCain not state that he did not believe in litmus tests for supreme court nominations? Did he not proudly assert that he voted to confirm Ginsburg and Breyer? Did he not state that he didn’t believe that the Roe v Wade debate didn’t even belong with the Supreme Court, that it belonged in the states? I’m really suprised that people seem to believe that with McCain in the White House we would have much less to worry about.

  65. vox borealis says:

    michael r,

    “Did he not state that he didn’t believe that the Roe v Wade debate didn’t even belong with the Supreme Court, that it belonged in the states?”

    Ummmm…that means he thinks that Roe should be thrown out, allowing individual states to deal with the question through their own democratic processes. That is, the federal government should not impose (via Roe or FOCA) abortion on people. I think that’s a pretty attractive sentiment, don’t you?

  66. Yamadori-san,

    Thank you for your honesty here about your decision. Obviously, based on the statistics, you were not alone in making such a vote. But there are a few problems with your views here.

    First of all, you treat the current wars on terror and terrorist regimes as the equivalent of the immoral and murderous expansion of Japan by the militarists into Asia prior to and during WWII. On the surface, there are similarities, yes: both countries sent their troops into other countries. But the similarities stop there. We sent out troops in to Afghanistan because we were attacked on 9/11 and into Iraq because of the terrorist ties of Saddam Hussein’s regime as well as the threat (which he evidently admitted before his execution was a hoax) of weapons of mass destruction. No such thing could be claimed by Japan’s imperial and fascist regime under Hirohito. Additionally, while Japan’s military massacered millions of civilians and many, many thousands of POW’s no such thing has ever been done – certainly nothing on that scale – by the Americans. Those who have committed atrocities have, for the most part, been put on trial and punished for their crimes. Also, there is no comparing the hold of Hirohito’s military machinery over Japan and the situation in the US. We are not in a military dictatorship. To make such comparisons is simply to ignore the facts.

    Secondly, even if one were to take the position – as some have – that our war on terror and against Iraq was an “unjust war”, there is room for disagreement here and even Rome has said as much. There are rules and principles which govern the determination of whether a war is just or unjust. Some believe that the US has met this threshold. Others, do not.

    BUT THERE ARE NO RULES FOR A “JUST ABORTION.” Abortion is and always will be a crime against humanity…a crime against God Himself, the creator of innocent life. Even if we compare the numbers of casualties in the Iraq war to the daily number of abortions in the US alone (which I believe is up to 4200), there is no question that more die each day from abortion. Such deaths may happen in the silence of a sterile, clinical environment, but there is no question that a murder is committed every time one is performed.

    And when they are not performed properly and the child lives, President-elect Barack Obama favors killing them if they are born alive…a form of infanticide of what he called “pre-viable fetuses”.

    You might consider these statistics:

    http://www.wickedshepherds.com/AbortionCounterandStats.html

    Thirdly, you seem to associate the homeless problem with voting for a pro-life Republican. I’m failing to make this connection. It just seems like you threw that one in because it colors the world a bit darker and makes a vote for Barack Obama more of a moral choice. As far as the issue “wrecking the country”, I’m afraid the current financial crisis (and I work in the Financial Services arena) has more to do with Democrat regulations under the Clinton years than anything done by George Bush or the Republicans per se.

    From what you have shared here, it appears that you made an emotional decision that fits with the mood of many in the country, and certainly one that was fed and manipulated by the mainstream media outlets who hardly ever reported anything negative about our President-elect as he ran for office. That does not make it an informed and good decision, however. I think thanks to the decisions of many like yourself, we are in for a very terrible time on the pro-life issue. Barack has said that one of his first acts in office will be to pass the Freedom of Choice Act which will result in the deaths of many more millions of unborn children. This was not widely reported by the press, with good reason. Many of the laws he will annihilate with the stroke of his presidential pen were actually voted upon at the state level and supported by many Americans.

    Lord have mercy!

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  67. michael r. says:

    vox borealis,

    So how do you suppose that Roe will be thrown out, and returned to the states? Doesn’t it require the appointment of more pro-life justices? How do you accomplish this with someone like McCain, who stated that he doesn’t believe in litmus testing for the confirmation of justices, and proudly touts his endorsement of Ginsburg & Breyer? Perhaps I’m missing something, but Roe will not be overturned until a majority on the Supreme Court see to overturning it. And that just doesn’t resonate with what I heard from McCain.

  68. Memphis Aggie says:

    Great thread. Let’s pray for this exceptionally brave priest.

    Father Deacon Daniel,

    You are certainly correct in that not every Obama voter had the same knowledge and intent and that likely some were not committing grave sin. However even if they did not and had as you suggest malformation of conscience then its’ true that they would still benefit from confession, even it wasn’t required in an absolute sense. I wouldn’t want my salvation hanging on the subtleties you allude to. Further if one had a malformed conscience then he is especially unlikely to correctly discern when he needs the benefit of the sacrament.

    Confession is such a great and generous blessing yet it’s viewed as a punishment or a chore.

  69. Liz F. says:

    Good for Fr. Newman. He actually shamed me into praying for Pres.-Elect Obama. I will do it, albeit grudgingly! (Before I was only praying for “our elected officials” and the pro-life ones.) God bless strong priests.

  70. RBrown says:

    So how do you suppose that Roe will be thrown out, and returned to the states? Doesn’t it require the appointment of more pro-life justices? How do you accomplish this with someone like McCain, who stated that he doesn’t believe in litmus testing for the confirmation of justices, and proudly touts his endorsement of Ginsburg & Breyer? Perhaps I’m missing something, but Roe will not be overturned until a majority on the Supreme Court see to overturning it. And that just doesn’t resonate with what I heard from McCain.
    Comment by michael r.

    How many anti-Roe SCOTUS Justices have been nominated by the Dems in the past 35 years?

    The answer is zero–none, nada, niente, rien, zip.

    How many anti-Roe SCOTUS Justices do you think will be nominated by Obama?

    If you answered anything but zero, I have a bridge for sale.

  71. vox borealis says:

    michael r

    “How do you accomplish this with someone like McCain, who stated that he doesn’t believe in litmus testing for the confirmation of justices, and proudly touts his endorsement of Ginsburg & Breyer?”

    Again, I think that you misunderstand what these words mean. Litmus test = bad. Dems use a litmus test (do you support Rose or not). McCain did claim (I believe) that he wanted supreme court justices who followed a stricter interpretation of the Constitution. That again is very good for overturning Roe.

    The comment about Ginsburg is tougher to interpret. However, according to the Constitution (again, if I recall correctly), the Senate only confirms justices nominated by the president; the guidelines are vague, but traditionally this was interpreted only as confirming that they were qualified or not. Only in more recent times has it become more about confirming judges who will vote a certain way on specific issues. McCain, in this light, should be proud that he voted for Ginsburg–in that he is saying that he did not politicize the court appointments in the manner that has become so typical in the past twenty years (since Bork).

  72. Joshua says:

    There is no question about it. The priest was out of line [Whatever one might say about this issue, the last would be that there is "no" question.]

    To vote for Obama because he is pro-abortion would be formal cooperation and always a sin. But material cooperation with an evil CAN be justified, as long as it is not immediate (if my aid enables it, where without my aid it would not happen, than it is immoral). Voting for Obama then is mediate material cooperation

    As true as it is that there are, in fact, not proportional reasons to have voted Obama, nevertheless one could without mortal sin have thought there were. Believe it or no, but many though Obama was pro life (I talked personally to such persons). Maybe there is a sin of negligence there. Likewise many thought his war policies were proportionate, even though he will continue fighting overseas. Ignorance abounds. The priest is out of bounds. The standard is higher.

  73. chironomo says:

    While it is certainly necessary to pray for Fr. Newman and support like-minded Priests and Bishops, there is no need to “worry” for them… Fr. Newman will be OK because he is on the RIGHT SIDE of the issue… he is being a CATHOLIC! How is it possible to criticize him without it devolving into a critique of Catholic beliefs? Any catholic, whether parishioners or politicians, will come off looking like fools if they chanllenge him on this because it is well-known to be the position of the Church. I almost HOPE that some prominent politician would challenge him on this.

    “Lines are being drawn, and we will soon be asked to take sides”

  74. Ed the Roman says:

    The worst you can say about the Republicans on Roe is that they don’t think it’s a hill worth dying on.

    The Democrats, by contrast, are quite plain in their belief that they do think it’s a hill worth dying on.

  75. mpm says:

    “… those Catholics who [vote for a pro-abort politician] 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.”

    Christopher Sarsfield,

    Please get down off your soap-box as a theological authority. What Father Newman is saying here is nothing other than to say the following: “they have committed a mortal sin, and should not recieve Holy Communion before making a good confession.”

    “Full Communion in Christ’s Church” implies being in the state of grace (to put it in a “Tridentine” vocabulary). One must confess all mortal sins before approaching to recieve
    Christ in Holy Communion. It has NOTHING to do with Protestantism.

    But don’t take my word for it, read the Catechism, at least 1440, 1443-1445.

  76. RANCHER says:

    I think we can see from the postings here where some of the 45% of “Church – going ” Catholics who voted for Obama came from. A few come across like the elitist intellectual Obama is with little evidence of common sense. This is not rocket science folks. Any thinking Catholic who understands the Church’s teaching on “proportionality” could not possibly justify a vote for a 100% pro abortion candidate when there was an alternative candidate with a much better (though admittedly not perfect) record and position on the abortion issue. To justify an Obama vote because the other candidate might be a war monger (not proven) is faulty reasoning and also inconsistent with Church teaching. War may or may not be wrong–abortion is always wrong.

    IMO Fr, Newman was absolutely correct in his assessment and in the words he chose to share with his parishoners. His statement is not materially different than that of a few couragous Bishops. The media downplayed the Bishops statements prior to the election. Fr. Newman’s is getting a lot of play because it is post election and cannot influenece any votes. It also gives the media an oppoirtunity to blast the Catholic Church which, of course, is part of their agenda.

  77. If one votes for N despite N’s pro-choice stance, then one engages in remote material co-operation, and remote material co-operation is morally permissible in the presence of proportionate reasons. Further, and most importantly, the judgment regarding the presence of proportionate reasons is one of prudence, a judgment that each individual must make, by exercising his practical reason; while conscience informs practical reason, it does not substitute it.

    There are certainly grounds for disagreeing with the prudential judgment of people who voted for president-elect Obama; no such grounds, however well established, can provide a window into the conscience.

    From the preceding, it follows that Fr. Newman’s conclusion is unwarranted. It does not follow that, “Catholics who [vote for pro-choice candidates, etc.] place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law.”

    Chris Altieri, thank you for this very intelligent post. I agree with you and Fr. Deacon Daniel (while I sympathize with Memphis Aggie’s last comment). Can you help me understand further? You said that “the judgment regarding the presence of proportionate reasons is one of prudence, a judgment that each individual must make, by exercising his practical reason”. Didn’t several bishops state that, objectively, there are no proportionate reasons present? So the question is then if one had the necessary awareness of this lack of proportionate reasons? Can true remote material cooperation be mortally sinful? Is this particular scenario akin to say… buying a Johnson & Johnson product even if one is aware that the company donates to Planned Parenthood?

    I also have a thought no one has expressed yet. In the case of voting for McCain, Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has said that we can never vote for someone because he is the lesser of two evils – we must never choose evil at all. But, we can choose one who will limit evil. Thus, a vote for McCain, (far more pro-life than Obama but still supporting ESCR) would be a morally good act. What are your thoughts on this reasoning?

  78. Jim Dorchak says:

    The poo has really hit the fan here in Greenville SC today.

    The local talk radio continued this topic as the main point of discussion. Many “catholics” called in and stated that they are pro abortion, and that their priest does not have a problem with it. These people continued to claim that they were altar boys and that they knew that the church says it is ok to be pro abort.

    Many of the callers claimed (sadly) that Fr. Newman should not be speaking out since he was by infernce, as a priest, a child molester.

    In the middle of this comes on Fox News which reports that they Catholic Church can not deny communion to anyone who comes to recieve. Fox News continued to report that Joe Biden (former altar boy) will not be denied communiuon by his bishiop. All of this in the context of the same report on Fr. Newmans statements.

    I think the trouble is that for too long the Bishops have not spoken out in a correct manner. (they may offed a baby killer if they do!). Now that Fr. Newman and others do speak out in the singular straight forward manner that he chose, which is the same as the Chuches teaching, self proclaimed Catholics are calling this a lie.

    If the Bishops would stop being afraid then we would not be in this mess. There would be no abortion.

    Very sad. It is very sad.

    Jim Dorchak

  79. Chris M says:

    Joshua,

    I tend to agree with your assessment. Would it make a difference if Fr Newman had discussed proportionality and the duty of Catholics to vote against pro-abortion candidates with his congregation prior to this? They couldn’t claim ignorance at that point, so the vast majority WOULD have gone to the voting booth with fully informed consciences and therefore would have been culpable for their cooperation with evil.

    Would that make his recent commentary more “in line” or do you still think he’s going beyond his authority due to not knowing the interior dispositions of each of his parishoners?

  80. mpm says:

    “There is no question about it. The priest was out of line”

    Joshua,

    He is not “out of line”, he is being a shepherd and fisher of souls. He is calling
    out to the flock entrusted to him. Getting spiritual direction from their shepherds
    is a primary way for Catholics to learn to form their consciences.

  81. “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.”

    I think my issue was with the assertion that all those who voted for a pro-abortion candidate (specifically Obama) should not go to Holy Communion. I certainly think that there is a benefit to going to Confession anyway, whether one is conscious or not of having committed mortal sin in this regard, but the problem is that Fr. Newman does not state that at all.

    Keep in mind – I AM sympathtic in general to his point of view on the objectively sinful nature of the act of putting such a man in the highest office in the land with the power to tremendously impact this issue. I just think he overstates the case.

    Sometimes being provocative is a way of bringing an important issue to the forefront. I do not get the impression that Father Newman was simply being provocative. I think he is earnestly trying to shepherd his flock who have been misled by the media and groups like “Catholic Democrats.”

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  82. Quibbling about the precision (or lack thereof) of Fr. Newman’s statement seems to me to range between witless and pernicious. Of course, hearing theological nonsense (and worse) from the pulpit is not an uncommon experience.

    But suppose that every priest in the country had preached for 40 years of Sundays that — whenever you’ve voted in any election for a candidate less opposed to abortion than his opponent, you should examine your conscience in the confessional line before holy communion again — and had left for Friday night’s “theology on tap” session any subtle nuances that would simply produce pro-abort votes.

    Then do you think we’d still be talking about the continued annual murder of 1.8 million babies in the womb? When the number of Catholics who customarily vote for pro-abort candidates is enough to swing any U.S. election.

  83. GJP says:

    I don’t think its totally fair to blame George H.W. Bush for Justice Souter. Originally, he nominated Judge Robert Bork (a pro-life Catholic) to the position, and the anti-life forces must have been clairvoyant or something, because if Mr. Bork wasn’t “borked,” then Roe vs. Wade would have surely been overturned by now.

    The only reason why Justice Thomas wasn’t “borked,” and they tried very hard to do so, was because they didn’t want to be seen as racist by denying a qualified black man. Even so, his nomination barely passed the Senate.

    It is true that Republicans have nominated anti-life justices. Ford nominated Stevens (but Ford wasn’t elected, so no mortal sin at play there for voters), although I don’t recall Ford being the choice of pro-lifers in 1976 anyway, but rather, the old school country club Republicans. By the time pro-lifers had their act together to support someone, they chose Reagan, who did nominate the anti-life O’Connor and sometimes anti-life Kennedy, which were disappointments. I think the rush to pick the “first female” led to a bad choice, and Kennedy’s record has been so flat out bizarre that they had no idea what they were going to get there. If anything, those two choices led to more responsible choices in Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito; so there was value there even in defeat for the anti-life side.

    Even George W. Bush wanted to choose justices like Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Myers before sensible people fixed those mistakes, and pointed the President towards Roberts and Alito. Gonzales and Myers were going to be O’Connor and Kennedy part II. I think we can all agree that this President has not made the best choices, although I can only imagine what the alternative would have been.

    I think it is safe to say that with Gore and Kerry (and Obama), we know what we will be getting in terms of Supreme Court justices. With Bush (and McCain), we know that we would have had something of a chance to have Justices that respect the right to life granted to us by the Founding Fathers.

  84. Jim Dorchak says:

    Joshua & Chris M

    Fr. Newman did make repeated statements from the pulpit prior to the election.

    He did not speak about one party or the other. He spoke about abortion.

    If you think that he is out of line then you must feel that he would also be out lime if he had spoken out in Nazi Germany against Hitler (a former altar boy). You would also think that he was speaking out if you lived in Russia during Stalins reign (another former altar boy).

    Maybe we all should not say anything and just ignore abortion and it will go away?

    The Germans around the concentration camps tried this and it didnt go so well for them.

    Joshua & Chris M

    Do not try to justify abortion. It is not possible.

    Jim Dorchak

  85. Flambeaux says:

    Jim Dorchak,

    Would you please email me at flambeaux_bearer [at] yahoo ?

    I have questions about your smoked lamb recipe, and I don’t have any contact info for you.

    Apologies to all for the threadjack.

    Thanks,

    Flambeaux

    /threadjack

  86. dcs says:

    I don’t think its totally fair to blame George H.W. Bush for Justice Souter. Originally, he nominated Judge Robert Bork (a pro-life Catholic) to the position, and the anti-life forces must have been clairvoyant or something, because if Mr. Bork wasn’t “borked,” then Roe vs. Wade would have surely been overturned by now.

    Bork was nominated in 1987 by Ronald Reagan, who (after Bork was rejected by the Senate) nominated Anthony Kennedy instead. Neither of Bush Sr’s appointments (Souter and Thomas) was rejected by the Senate.

  87. RBrown says:

    One other point: Abortion is not merely a matter of overturning Roe. President Reagan issued an Executive Order prohibiting federal funds from being used in Intl abortion programs. Clinton rescinded that order. Then Bush 43 restored it. Obama is likely to follow the Clinton MO.

  88. Chris M says:

    Jim,

    Way to attack to the rear, pal.

    I’m glad Fr Newman worked to catechize his parish before the election. I’d have been surprised if he hadn’t, actually! However, he’s making assumptions that he isn’t qualified to make regarding the state of grace of each congregant who voted for Obama.

    Voting for Obama was not necessarily a mortal sin. It was definitely material cooperation with evil. (So was my vote for McCain, except I had a proportionate reason: making sure Captain Infanticide wasn’t elected)

    He can encourage them to seek reconciliation. He cannot tell them they MUST, since he does not know if they have committed a mortal sin.

  89. mpm says:

    Jim Dorchak,

    Is the “Fox News” that you mention the local one, or the cable station?

    A local “pickup” strikes me as natural; but if the national media enter this fray, it
    makes me wonder what their “angle” is.

    Don’t get down. I’m always amazed how some real good can come out of what seems like
    a total mess. God is Almighty, and Christ is truly risen!

  90. Jim Dorchak says:

    Chris

    I respectfully disagree. Let us leave it at that.

    MpM

    Yes Neal Cuvuto has had it on the National as well as some other National syndicates.

    I do not watch tv, but it can be found on the web.

    Makes you wonder why they (the Press) did not make an issue of Fr. Newman’s other bullitins and sermons till after the election.

    P.S. I am not a St. Mary’s parishoner since I attend TLM at another local Diocean (sp sorry) church where my Priest also made similar comments before and after the election, although less bold lets say.

    Flambeaux hope you like the lamb……….

    Jim Dorchak

  91. Fr. J. says:

    Maybe I missed it, but has anyone considered whether Father was thinking of cooperation with abortion as a sin that carries with it the penalty of excommunication? If so, it would explain why he mentions those who cooperated materially (“simpliciter,” simply speaking, and not according to any particular considerations) with the election of pro-abortion legislators and executives as being outside full communion with the Church. If they have incurred excommunication, they are canonically outside the communion. Possibly worth considering as well is that Father may have been applying the old Redemptorist maxim to be “a lion in the pulpit and a lamb in the confessional.” Sometimes a priest has to jolt sinners out of their complacency in order to get them into the confessional, where the subtleties of particular circumstances can be dealt with in calm and in justice.

  92. Brian says:

    Charlie,

    While I agree with many of your thoughts, given our fallen nature, it is necessary for a civilization to have laws. We cannot simply provide moral teaching and example and hope and pray that people will just do good and be just and leave it at that.

    If we are going to have laws, the most basic of all laws is that people should not murder innocent people. It is unjust to legally allow doctors and mothers, those who should be caring for and nurturing the life of children, to murder the most vulnerable and innocent of all human beings.

    Justice demands that abortion be illegal and that Catholics work toward making it illegal.

  93. Jim Dorchak says:

    I find it amazing that we have to explain why abortion is evil.

    It just astounds me! Especially on this blog. [You know... a lot of new readers come to this blog, drawn for all sorts of reasons. Let's follow 1 Peter 3:15, okay? - Actually, that wasn't a request! o{];¬) ]

    Jim Dorchak

  94. Brian Mershon says:

    mpm!!! “mortal sin” is Tridentine vocabulary? Weirdness never ceases. In essence, Fr. Newman is absolutely correct. Christopher is probably right about the use of the phrase “imperfect communion,” but maybe there is a real reason Fr. Newman used that phrase and did not say “moratl sin”?

    Makes perfect sense. He didn’t accuse them of mortal sin. But if they were parishioners for any length of time, they certainly would have known it was grave matter, had sufficient reflection and full consent of the will.

    Prayers for Fr. Newman.

  95. Dear RANCHER,

    You say:

    “I think we can see from the postings here where some of the 45% of “Church – going ” Catholics who voted for Obama came from. A few come across like the elitist intellectual Obama is with little evidence of common sense.”

    Query:

    Is that what an argument is supposed to look like according to you? It looks like a certain kind of argument, to me, one well-mannered interlocutors do not employ.

    You say:

    “This is not rocket science folks.”

    I reply:

    True. It is applied ethics in the light of faith, or applied moral theology. As Aristotle tells us, there is in ethical science no such precision as in mathematics. Very often this is understood to mean that ethics is not as precise as mathematics. This is a mistake. Aristotle illustrates a general difference, not a quantitative one (it is, if you will, a difference in kind, not a difference in degree). So, it is not rocket science. One does need training in the sacred sciences in order to apply them to real life.

    You say:

    “Any thinking Catholic who understands the Church’s teaching on “proportionality” could not possibly justify a vote for a 100% pro abortion candidate when there was an alternative candidate with a much better (though admittedly not perfect) record and position on the abortion issue.”

    I reply:

    V.s.

    You say:

    “To justify an Obama vote because the other candidate might be a war monger (not proven) is faulty reasoning and also inconsistent with Church teaching.”

    I reply:

    It is not necessarily faulty reasoning. You do not flesh out the hypothetical sufficiently, and are therefore not warranted in your assertion. It is certainly not contrary to Church teaching. The second part of this statement is quite simply false in fact.

    You say:

    “War may or may not be wrong—abortion is always wrong.”

    I reply:

    True. This, your statement, however, is also thrown out there, willy-nilly. What purpose does it serve in your argument? Were you arguing at all?

  96. Brian says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    With regard to mortal sin and Communion, is it not true that if a divorced Catholic remarries without an annulment but sincerely believes the Church is wrong about divorce, it is possible that he exhibits invincible ignorance with regard to divorce and may not be subjectively guilty of mortal sin? This is an issue to discuss with his confessor.

    The Church, however, does not teach that divorced Catholics who sincerely believe that it is not a sin are allowed to go to Communion. With regard to objective matter, a divorced, re-married Catholic is in mortal sin. The Church teaches that divorced Catholics are in a state of objective mortal sin and should not receive Communion.

    If Senators Biden and Pelosi believe that they are correct, they may be exhibiting invincible ignorance. It is possible that they are not subjectively guilty of mortal sin. It is clear, however, they are engaging in objective mortal sin. Whether or not their Bishops publically state it, they should not be going to Communion.

    IF, objectively speaking, voting for a pro-abortion candidate when a pro-life candidate is available is a mortal sin, then it would seem that Fr. Newman would be correct to tell such persons that they should not receive Communion.

    Whether they know it or not, people in an objective state of mortal sin, should not go to Communion.

  97. Jordanes says:

    Christopher Sarsfield said: First you tell me that I am wrong to accuse Fr. Newman of speaking about Obama and McCain. Then you bring up Obama and McCain. Well is Fr. Newman talking about the last presidential election or not?

    I have no idea where you got the idea that I said or even implied that Fr. Newman was not referring the presidential election despite the fact that he said he was referring to the presidential election. I’ve re-read my initial comment of 14 November 2008 @ 12:04 am, and I don’t see where I said anything of the sort. You seem to be having as much difficulty interpreting my comments as you are having with Father Newman’s statement.

    Placing one outside of full communion with the Church is a phrase applied to protestants, and bishops that consecrate other bishops without papal mandate, it is not applied to Catholics in good standing.

    No, they aren’t just “outside of full communion,” they’re not in communion in any meaningful sense. But “Catholics in good standing” (which I guess means those who have not been formally excommunicated?) whose sins make them ineligible to experience the fullness of what communion means could not be said to be in “full” communion.

    Since Mystici Corporis no one defends that idea that Catholics who do not possess sanctifying grace are somehow less Catholic than those who do.

    Well, they may not say “somehow less Catholic,” but when the Council Fathers of Vatican II say they are corporately in the Church while not in the heart of the Church, that sure does sound like their communion with the Church is impaired.

    As the Council said those who do not maintain charity are still in the bosom of the Church. The part about not being in the “heart” is poetic, and is not to be taken literally.

    I, on the other hand, am inclined to think that the Council actually said something meaningful and weren’t just saying something not meant to be taken literally.

    You can not distinguish between those that dwell in the Body of Christ and those that dwell in the “Heart of Christ.”

    Tell that to the Council Father of Vatican II. They believe differently, as can be seen by the fatc that they distinguished between those that dwell in the Body of Christ and those that dwell in the Heart.

  98. Dear Fr. J,

    Justice requires that the follower of the Redemptorists\’ maxim be a lion to real sin. Fr. Newman simply gets it wrong when he makes his blanket statement to the effect that all folks who voted for Obama co-operated materially in evil and are therefore outside the Church. Some Catholics were not material, but formal collaborators, i.e. they voted for Obama BECAUSE of his stance on abortion. Others were remote (this is a key distinction) material collaborators, i.e. they voted from him DESPITE his abortion stance. You can criticize the reasoning that led to such a judgment all you like. I certainly did in the run up to the election. You can argue til the cows come home that the decision was not the right one (I have, with several people). A disagreement with an individual\’s exercise of prudential judgment, however well-founded, however well-placed, however meritorious, CANNOT, by its very nature, constitute grounds sufficient to judge a single conscience, let alone a class containing millions of members.

  99. sharon stockard says:

    In My Marian Missal,IMPRIMATUR L.Suenens by Veritas Press 1958, After the prayers after Low Mass are recited,Prayer For Our Government We pray thee, O Almighty and eternal God,who thru Jesus Christ hast reveald thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of thy mercy; that thy Church,being spread thru the whole world, may continue ,with unchanging faith, in the confession of thy name.
    We pray thee, O God of might ,wisdom and justice through whom authority is is rightlynadministered,laws are enacted, and judgement decreed, assist with thy Holy Spirit of counsil and fortitude,the President of theses United States,that his administrationmay be conducted in righteousness,and be eminently useful to thy peopleover whom he presides,by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion;etc,etc. This prayer goes on and was abriged from a prayer composed by Archbishop Carroll A.D. 1800 for the United States of America

  100. Nathan says:

    I think we may be failing, in some sense, to see the forest for the trees. I find it hard to believe that most Catholics who voted for Mr. Obama did so without knowledge of his position on abortion. I also find it hard to believe that most Catholics who voted for Mr. Obama were unaware that supporting pro-abortion candidates is offensive to God, or that the life-or-death nature of the abortion issue was not of pressing importance.

    With our fallen human nature, all of us tend to look to a legal or moral way out when we really know that the action is evil. In this case, it seemed to be the “there are other good reasons” approach or trying to take a USCCB statement out of context or simply denying to oneself that the vote had any moral impact. I think that, in most cases, people know in their heart of hearts what is right and what is wrong here–no matter what came out of the media polemics.

    Theological particulars aside, Fr. Newman’s shot across the bow seems to serve a real purpose–to get those who didn’t work through the subtleties of proportionality to question whether they did serve as an accessory to sin. If it caused one person to look in the mirror and ask “did I actually do something to cooperate in ending the life of an innocent baby?” then didn’t the message accomplish God’s will?

    In Christ,

  101. Brian,

    Thank you for your post.

    I would make a few distinctions.

    First of all, for a couple to be co-habitating it is said that they live objectively in a “state of sin”, and not simply that they have committed a sin. We can thus distinguish between fornication as a single action and co-habitating as a public “state.” Thus it is proper to deny them Holy Communion until their “state” can be rectified by separating and/or regularized sacramentally in the Church. The same applies to individuals who are divorced and re-married without any declaration of nullity for their previous unions and without the benefit of a sacramental blessing of their marriage in the Church. This too is objectively a “state of sin.” It is both public and readily discerned as a sinful “state of life” contrary to the norms and teachings of the Church, and thus communion can also be denied whatever the relative state of the conscience of the couple.

    Similarly, a politician who casts his or her vote publicly in favor of abortion, or campaigns for those who do or voices publicly any support for a “pro-choice” position, whatever his or her personal beliefs and feelings to the contrary, has committed grave scandal and has contributed publicly and in a material way to the destruction of human life. This is different from a person who, while pro-life in their views, believes, however incorrectly, that there is a proportionate reason to vote for a pro-choice candidate because they believe that the concerns around the war and the views of the other party, for instance, far outweigh the “Life” issue. Now, a person who votes for a pro-abortion candidate BECAUSE he or she is pro-choice is objectively in a much different state than one who is simply misled on the relative weight of the issues in their discernment of where to cast their vote. I believe that Father Newman does not make these type of distinctions and I think that his position may ultimately backfire since he appears to be applying what are sound principles without distinction relative to the casting of a private ballot. I appreciate, to paraphrase Fr. J, his lionesque moral fortitude here, but I fear that his “roar” applied without distinction may haunt him in the end. Not everyone who voted for Obama has committed a mortal sin, although it is arguable that when it was done it did constitute serious matter. This is especially the case – and I think one could possibly argue for severing communion here – for anyone who voted for Barack Obama because he is “pro-choice.”

    This is an important debate on an important pastoral issue. I am trying to process it all myself to identify the most prudent and trustworthy pastoral course. I look forward to your reply.

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  102. Soli Deo Gloria says:

    To Christopher Sarsfield:

    Are you still with the Missouri Synod?

    Why are you throwing stones on our Fr. Newman?

  103. mpm says:

    Nathan,

    I think your post does real justice to Fr. Newman. Thank you. What does not seem to have
    occured to some people critiquing Fr. Newman from the objective/subjective theoretical
    standpoint is that as a pastor of a parish, he has the duty of the cura animarum,
    “care for souls”, and it pains me to see a good shepherd criticized (presumably by his
    own) for seeking out the sheep “who have drunk the kool-aid”.

    May God bless Fr. Newman’s loving soul, and yours also.

  104. Chris M says:

    Fr J, Fr Deacon Daniel and all other clergy,

    I can’t imagine how tough it is trying to find the right pastoral course of action in this situation. Please be assured of my prayers for your discernment and courage.

  105. mpm says:

    I should have added in my earlier post the following:

    As a Pastor, Fr. Newman has no more knowledge of the state of the soul of any individual
    than I do. So he must use the Church’s objective and authentic teaching to help his flock
    form their consciences. I understand that he might be taken wrongly (and from all
    appearances) has been taken wrongly, but what choice does he have if he wants to recall
    the errant lamb?

    Remember Ezekiel? “if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked man from his way: that
    wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but I will require his blood at thy hand.”

  106. Dear Nathan,

    First of all, it is not necessarily true that voting for a pro-abortion candidate is offensive to God. If that were true, then the man who became Pope Benedict XVI would not have said that it may be permitted under certain circumstances, and given proportionate reasons.

    Second, and equally important: it is not a question of knowledge or ignorance of a candidate\’s stance of abortion that determines the moral condition of an agent who votes for such a candidate. It is rather whether he votes for such a candidate because of the candidate\’s stance, or despite it.

    For example: one could believe that M (the pro-life candidate)would, if elected, fail to advance the cause of life, notwithstanding his best intentions, and also believe that the policies of O (the pro-abortion candidate) would, on the whole, have a greater chance of achieving a more justly ordered society, and also believe that the most offensive policies and elements of O\’s legislative agenda could be successfully defeated before he enacted them, then one could safely vote for O. Whether one is wrong in so thinking is not relevant to the moral calculus. I know many people whose reasons for voting Obama in the recent election were variations on the hypothetical template I gave above. For the record, I disagree with them. A disagreement over prudential judgment, however basic, is not grounds for judging the state of someone\’s immortal soul. A fortiori, it cannot be used to judge the souls of an entire class of people.

  107. Michael J says:

    Chris,
    Given that well over 100 Bishops spoke out about this and all essentially said that a vote for Obama could not be justified, what possible justification can these people offer for their faulty reasoning? Would you not consider this at least culpable, if not willful ignorance?

    If I, for example, were to commit a sinful act without realizing that it was a sin but I *should* have known better , have I objectively sinned?

  108. mpm says:

    “First of all, it is not necessarily true that voting for a pro-abortion candidate is
    offensive to God. If that were true, then the man who became Pope Benedict XVI would
    not have said that it may be permitted under certain circumstances, and given
    proportionate reasons
    .”

    Chris Altieri,

    One point. Cardinal Ratzinger replied in private to a Cardinal of the Catholic Church
    who had asked his opinion in private. Cardinal Ratzinger certainly knew that it might
    take 50 pages in a traditional textbook of Catholic Moral Theology to engage in a proper
    discussion buried in the technical expression “proportionate/proportional” reasons. (I
    say this advisedly, to rule out the simple expedient of recurring to “proportionalism”
    which is the doctrine of Fr. Charles Curran, whose credentials as a Catholic theologian
    were revoked.) Cardinal Ratzinger had every reason to believe that a Cardinal of the Catholic
    Church would by himself, or with the help of faithful Catholic theologians, be able to
    understand the ins and outs of those putative 50 pages.

    As we all know, that Cardinal did not choose to share the response of Cardinal Ratzinger
    with the other bishops of the USCCB committee which had been called to recommend a common approach to be taken by bishops on the question.

    I think it was a shame, and perhaps worse, that in drafting “Faithful Citizenship”, the
    private response was simply cut-and-pasted into the place where it was, since it very clearly
    has the effect (intended?) of diluting the main point of the paragraph.

    That, as I understand it, is why a large number of bishops saw it necessary, i.e., they
    saw it as their duty, to clarify the Church’s teaching here during the recent political
    season. They, as faithful Catholic bishops, in their dioceses, with whatever assistance
    they needed from faithful Catholic theologians, told anybody who was listening, what
    the proper meaning of “Faithful Citizenship” is.

    Bottom line, whether knowingly or unwittingly, you are now quoting “Pope Benedict XVI”
    as saying something that he never intended to say about the recent elections.

  109. Thomas says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how much venom is directed at the Church when a story about Her hits the news. At the Greenville newspaper site comment section today we the find expected array of fundamentalist anti-Catholic accusations (it is SC after all), but it is actually the atheists who startle me. They seem young, bold, and unevenly uneducated. They spew such hatred of the Church, rehashing the normal anti-Catholic nostrums, but most upsettingly, they are so filled with rage toward religion that they show absolutely no respect for the beliefs of others. They do not believe what we do, so we are worthy of the vilest contempt they can dish out. Infuriating, frightening, and saddening.

  110. Brian says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    I did not write that voting for Obama was a mortal sin. Given the massive slaughter of innocent life, that is an interesting question; but that is not what I was responding to.

    I was responding to the issue you raised with regard to the subjective nature of mortal sin in your following statements:

    “I think one faulty aspect of his position is that for something to be mortal sin, it must not only be serious matter, it must also involve full knowledge and full consent. (“I know this is seriously wrong, I am going to do it anyway.”)

    And

    “I certainly think that there is a benefit to going to Confession anyway, whether one is conscious or not of having committed mortal sin in this regard”

    I was providing examples (divorce / re-marriage; Pelosi and Biden) where even if the person is not aware that they have committed mortal sin, objectively, they have committed mortal sin and should not receive Communion.

    As to the soul being in a “state of sin,” it is important not confuse colloquial expressions with Church teaching. Committing one mortal sin is sufficient for the soul to be in a state of mortal sin, spiritually dead and lacking Sanctifying Grace. In such a state, one should not receive Communion. Objectively speaking, it is a mortal sin to go to Communion with unconfessed mortal sin. People engaging in even a single act of fornication are in a state of mortal sin and should not go to Communion until they have confessed that sin with an intention to stop engaging in that sin.

    What makes re-marriage different is that with divorce and re-marriage, the person continues to live in the state of habitual mortal sin. Lacking firm purpose of amendment, such a person cannot be absolved from their mortal sin in confession. Until he intends to end that state of habitual sin by separating, by getting an annulment if there are sufficient grounds, or by living as “brother and sister” a remarried Catholic cannot receive absolution or go to Communion – whether they believe they are in mortal sin or not.

  111. Nathan says:

    Chris,

    Your points are well taken. I should have qualified my statement on voting for a pro-abortion candidate with something like “all other things being equal.”

    I wonder how many Catholics who voted for Mr. Obama went to the level of moral reasoning you outline, though. I heard very few people outside my “Catholic geek” circles even approach an attempt to balance the moral value of one candidate vis-a-vis another. I could be wrong, though–I haven’t talked about this with a large number of people.

    But wouldn’t the best way for a pastor to help his flock determine whether they made a well-reasoned prudential judgement or were simply cooperating with evil be through the Sacrament of Penance? Isn’t that what Fr. Newman is counseling his flock to do?

    In Christ,

  112. Dear Matt Hardesty,

    Apologies for not responding sooner. I missed your query in the field. Please bear with me, as it is already getting late in the evening here in Rome, and I have to attend to the family. I will post tomorrow morning, when my mind is fresh and my thoughts more clear.

    C

  113. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Soli Die Gloria,

    Did you not see the post earlier… I obviously must have left the Missouri Synod, because I am a Jew named Seinfeld. :) The reason why I care about these issues is because at some point Fr. Newman’s statement is going to have to given the approval or disapproval of his bishop. [I don't think so. - Fr. Z] I am sure that the news media as we speak are anxiously waiting for a comment from Fr. Newman’s bishop, and I feel [not much of a basis for a conclusion] that the bishop will find fault with Fr. Newman’s statement, and the media will portray that in headlines as “Local Bishop says Newman’s Wrong, Catholics can vote for Pro-Choice Candidates.” Now perhaps you think that might be a good thing, but I do not. I do not think Fr. Newman’s letter will hold canonically or theologically, and that will set the Pro-life movement back even further. Fr. Newman’s zeal is not unto knowledge, [You are now stepping over the line into rash judgment.] and I would not be surprised if Fr. Newman himself retracts/clarifies some of the content at the request of his bishop.

  114. Same to Nathan and mpm. Best to all. Good evening.

  115. boredoftheworld says:

    There currently is no bishop of Charleston, we haven’t had a bishop for over a year. And please let’s try to remember that this was a bulletin column directed at the people of St. Mary’s parish so if you’re not a parishioner there it doesn’t actually apply to you.

    Beyond that I think I am beginning to understand why, on a strictly human level, most priests and bishops are reluctant to say anything about anything.

  116. wsxyz says:

    Personally I find the contributions of commenters such as Chris Altieri to be quite interesting, especially since those of us who have not formally studied our religion thereby have the opportunity to theologically educate ourselves in some small way.

    God forbid, however, that this person is ever responsible for making public statements about such matters on behalf of the Church. 95% of Catholics would simply hear whatever they wanted to hear in his arguments and so very many would end up voting for the greater evil.

    Fr. Newman, on the other hand, has correctly taken a pastoral approach to the question. His statement leaves no doubt what the Church thinks about abortion and helps the common faithful understand that they have an obligation to take positive action to end the mass slaughter of innocent babies.

  117. boredoftheworld says:

    http://www.catholic-doc.org/Statement%20on%20Voting%20and%20Communion.pdf

    ———–
    Statement of Monsignor Martin T. 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.
    ———————

  118. No problem Chris, whenever you can get to it is fine… anyone else have a comment? I’m referring to my post from 14 November 2008 @ 10:14 am

  119. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Bored of the World,

    That was what I was afraid of.

  120. Jim Dorchak says:

    I vomited after reading the Diocese of Charleston Statment.

    All these years of standing outside the abortion clinics and life chains, and the money my wife and children have given to the pro life movement have now been flushed.

    read:

    IT IS NOW OK TO BE PRO ABORT AND CATHOLIC.

    Jim Dorchak

  121. 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.

    Wow… let’s pray for Fr. Newman all the more, it must feel horrible to be publicly repudiated like this.

    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.

    Doesn’t this leave the door open for a person to subjectively judge his conscience well-formed (when in fact it may not be) and take himself off the hook?

  122. Shameless Plug Alert:
    I’m just a lowly seminarian :) but what do you all think about this post-election homily I wrote as a homiletics exercise? (I only delivered it to my Pastoral Year pastor, not his congregation)
    http://theschoolofmary.blogspot.com/2008/11/my-post-election-homily.html
    /plug

  123. boredoftheworld says:

    I’m so mad about the official statement I’m ready to march (on the fridge tbh). What possible useful purpose could that thing serve? The newsloons aren’t going to read past the first paragraph because everything else in the statement is just MEGO.

  124. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Fr. Newman starts his back pedaling:

    “2) I wrote last week that “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 of full communion with 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.”

    Please note what I did not say: a) I did not endorse any candidate or party. b) I did not make myself or any human authority the judge of an individual’s conscience; that task belongs alone to Almighty God through His divinely revealed law. c) I did not presume to know or determine for others what constitutes being a “plausible pro-life alternative” to a pro-abortion politician; I asserted only that there can be such.

    What I intended to say was this: a) Any Catholic who endorses or supports the intrinsic evil of abortion has, by that fact, placed himself or herself outside of full communion with the Catholic Church and should not receive Holy Communion before being reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance. b) It is possible to be guilty of supporting abortion by voting for a politician who pledges to support abortion if that is the voter’s intention and it is possible instead to vote for another “plausible candidate” who opposes abortion. I deliberately left unaddressed what constitutes being a plausible alternative candidate because there is no way for a general principle to anticipate and include every possibility of nuance and judgment in the evaluation of candidates in a given election. It is in making this judgment that all voters, including Catholics, must exercise their personal liberty and follow a conscience informed by right reason and objective truth. But the very reason the Lord Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Penance is that we all too often act contrary to the law of God and the voice of our conscience.

    In making these points, I have not attempted to give my private opinions about anything; rather, I have sought to reflect faithfully the moral teaching and sacramental discipline of the Catholic Church, and if I have erred in that task by omission or commission, I look forward to being corrected by lawful authority in the Church. As I have written today in my bulletin column, there was no way in last week’s 542 words to explain fully a matter of extraordinary complexity, and what I wrote before must be in the context of everything the Church teaches on these questions. I hope that this clarification will serve to assure our parish and those who read about this matter that no infringement of political liberty or individual conscience was my intent.

    Father Jay Scott Newman
    Pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church”

    Full statement:

    http://www.stmarysgvl.org/ourparish/2008-dear-friends-in-christ

    Let us pray that harm done will be limited, and the Main Stream Media, who has never been a friend to the Church, will find something else to lie about/distort.

  125. Flambeaux says:

    Oh, a chancery rat sells out a good priest. Quelle suprise!
    *blech*

  126. Patricia says:

    Please go to St. Mary’s site and read more of what Fr. Newman has written in order to address some of the unfair criticism and misrepresentation. Here are a couple excerpts:

    Last week I wrote a column for our Sunday bulletin just as I have done every week for the past seven years, and when I wrote it, I had no thought that it would be read by anyone other than parishioners of St. Mary’s or out of the context of everything that has been taught and preached here, from the pulpit or in writing, over these seven years. And yet that was precisely the result of the distortion of my words by the Associated Press. For an in depth explanation of what I wrote and what I did not write, please see the bulletin insert today which begins “Priest: No Communion for Obama Voters.”

    Of course, I said nothing of the kind and explained very carefully and in writing to both the Greenville News and the Associated Press that “I cannot and will not refuse Holy Communion to anyone because of his or her political opinions or choices.” Nevertheless, the AP story was written to create the false impression that I intended to deny Holy Communion to those who voted for Senator Obama; I did not.

    My bulletin column last week was exactly 542 words—a space in which no comprehensive description could be offered of an enormously complex subject. That is why what I wrote last week has to be read in light of the teaching of the American bishops on “Faithful Citizenship” which was distributed in the bulletin the week before the election and explained from the pulpit. From that document and the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium, no one could conclude that a vote for Senator Obama is in itself or by itself a mortal sin. But from that same teaching, though, we must conclude that a vote for a pro-abortion candidate can be a mortal sin if the intent is to support abortion, that abortion is not merely one issue among other important issues, and that no Catholic should endorse a pro-abortion politician if a plausible pro-life alternative is available. I regret that I did not take time last week to parse out every stipulation of the Church’s teaching, because the failure to do so allowed those who oppose that teaching to ridicule it by falsely asserting that I intended to deny Holy Communion to anyone who voted for the president-elect or that I presumed to know or judge their conscience. Again, for a fuller discussion of these issues, please see today’s bulletin insert.When a reporter from the AP called to ask about the story which appeared in the Greenville News, I forwarded my written answers to her and verified by email that she received them. So, the AP knew that I stated categorically that “I cannot and will not refuse Holy Communion to anyone because of his or her political opinions or choices,” and yet it was on the basis of the slant in the AP story that the world was then told that my position is “No Communion for Obama Voters.”

    An excerpt from Communion:“Priest: No Communion for Obama Voters.”

    I insisted on receiving and answering the original questions in writing precisely because I knew that this might turn into a very ugly brawl designed to make me look like a raving lunatic seeking to coerce voters through spiritual blackmail rather than a shepherd warning his flock about the spiritual danger of supporting abortion, whether directly or indirectly. And my suspicion proved well-founded…

  127. boredoftheworld says:

    Fr. Newman starts his back pedaling:

    You’re not helping things much with that kind of comment.

    I found this quote to be far more relevant:

    Most of the people who wrote seem to regard me as either a mighty champion of reform or an evil tool of the devil, and I am naturally hesitant to accept either title. In truth, I am but a useless servant of the Lord Jesus trying, despite my frailty, to be a faithful witness to Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

  128. boredoftheworld says:

    And the press cherry picks (as I knew they would) and we get this:

    ———-
    http://www.wyff4.com/news/17983139/detail.html#-

    GREENVILLE, S.C. — The day after a Greenville priest drew national attention with a directive to his parishioners who voted for Barack Obama, the Diocese of Charleston issued a statement criticizing the priest’s stand.

    The Rev. Jay Scott Newman, priest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, said that his congregants shouldn’t take communion until they do penance for supporting “the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president.”

    He said his directive was based on abortion being one of five “non-negotiable issues” for Catholic voters and that any church member voting for a pro-choice candidate would be disobeying the church.

    The statement from Monsignor Martin L. Laughlin, administrator of the Diocese Charleston, issued on Friday said, “Let me state with clarity that Father Newman’s statements do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church’s teachings. Any comments to the contrary are repudiated.’

    The statement said, “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.’”
    ———

    There ya go, thanks Msgr.

  129. mpm says:

    As I read the Administrator’s statement, then the words of Fr. Newman in the posts of
    Christopher Sarsfield and Patricia, I did not get a sense of backpedaling, but rather of
    clarification.

    What exactly does it mean to say that “Christ gave us freedom to explore our own
    conscience”? Is conscience some sort of “undiscovered continent”? Do we all have one
    borg-like conscience?

    Let’s pray that Fr. Newman’s outreach gets a proper hearing from higher authority!

  130. Brian says:

    mpm,

    I read Fr. Newman’s statement as you do and agree that Fr. Newman statement reads as if he was clarifying, not backpedaling.

    I am not an expert on Church authority, but did Monsignor Martin L. Laughlin, overstep his authority when he stated, “Let me state with clarity that Father Newman’s statements do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church’s teachings. Any comments to the contrary are repudiated.” He is not the Pope; he is not a Cardinal overseeing the CDF; he is not a Bishop. By what authority did he pronounce that repudiation?

    It seems to me that Fr. Newman may be making that same point when he wrote, “In making these points, I have not attempted to give my private opinions about anything; rather, I have sought to reflect faithfully the moral teaching and sacramental discipline of the Catholic Church, and if I have erred in that task by omission or commission, I look forward to being corrected by lawful authority in the Church.”

  131. Liam says:

    Fr Newman’s slight of hand was rightly clarified and put into proper perspective. He is not being humiliated. HIs incomplete thoughts are being completed. Had he been more complete, this would not have been necessary.

  132. jarhead462 says:

    Talk about backpedaling! It seems those who feel guilt are trying to rationalize their decisions by attacking what this good Priest has written.
    I’m just saying..

  133. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    I agree with Liam, and I would recommend that Fr. Newman take the advice, which is so often the Ant-spam phrase for this blog: Think before you post. Fr. Newman has clarified that the position attributed to him (and defended by many of comments on this blog) is not his and is wrong. Unfortunately, the MSM will pervert and distort this, as I feared would happen. While Fr. Newman’s sincerity can not be questioned, he has unfortunately handed a victory to the culture of death. Let us all pray it is a small one. Finally, this is why the statements of priests and bishops have to be perfect. If they make even the slightest error, or they are not perfectly clear and complete in their thoughts, our enemies will exploit it to their advantage. At the end of the day, the culture of life would have been better off if Fr. Newman had said nothing.

  134. mpm says:

    Brian,

    Msgr Laughlin, as Administrator of the Diocese, has canonical authority, though not full
    episcopal authority, while the “see is vacant”. I’m not in Charleston, and have no idea
    of the particulars.

    For now, I’m going to simply pray for the good fruits of Fr. Newman’s efforts.

  135. Fr W says:

    I love Father Newman, but I also agree that as canon law stands, voting for Obama may be a mortal sin, but it does not place one outside of communion (incur an excommunication). This seems to be a mistake – as things stand.

  136. Jordanes says:

    “Let me state with clarity that Father Newman’s statements do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church’s teachings.”

    Sadly Msgr. Laughlin’s statements do not adequatley reflect the Church’s teachings either. It is most unfortunate that his clarification will have the primary effect of confirming thousands of Catholics in their poorly formed consciences.

  137. Brian says:

    Fr. W,
    Did Fr. Newman state that those who voted for a pro-abortion candidate incurred ex-communication? I thought his point was that they committed mortal sin (I’m not so sure about that) and, as with anyone in a state of mortal sin, they have fallen from grace and should not receive Communion without first going to confession.

  138. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Brian,

    In the clarification, Fr. Newman is well… clearer:

    “What I intended to say was this: a) Any Catholic who endorses or supports the intrinsic evil of abortion has, by that fact, placed himself or herself outside of full communion with the Catholic Church and should not receive Holy Communion before being reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance.”

    If you support abortion, you are rejecting the authority of the Church to teach on this matter, and placing yourself outside her communion. Heresy carries the penalty of automatic excommunication, so I think Fr. Newman is on firm ground here. Because of this clarification I think Fr. Newman in the original was trying to say this, and was not supporting the erroneous opinion I attributed to him, ie that those in mortal sin have placed themselves outside of full communion with the Church.

  139. Rancher says:

    And what this all points to quite clearly is the lack of leadership by Bishops. Unless and until ALL U S Bishops speak clearly and consistently on the abortion issue those good Catholics who are trying to say and do the right thing (Fr. Newman included) will get picked apart without mercy by both cafeteria Catholics and the anti-Catholic media.

    Life issues are the most basic based upon Catholic teaching and natural law. Until we have done everything within our power to influence at least Catholics but, preferably our entire society, to respect life we are spinning our wheels on social justice issues. If we cannot grant rights to the unborn how can we respect the rights of immigrants, the poor, or the victims of war. Or, if we use our support for immigrants, the poor, etc. as a salve to our consciences because we have failed to support life in the womb are we not deceiving ourselves.

    Would there be more Fr. Newmans and many fewer Msgr Laughlins.

  140. mpm says:

    Fr. W,

    Fr. Newman could not have meant “excommunication”, since that is a canonical penalty
    which would have to be lifted before one could be validly absolved in the
    Sacrament of Penance, to which he is calling the faithful of the parish.

    He is referring to the lack of “communion” which is, in fact, entailed by mortal sin.
    That does not mean he is accusing them of mortal sin, but he is indicating that their
    consciences may need better formation according to the authentic doctrines of the Church.

  141. Liam says:

    Fr Newman is not being picked apart. His original statement required clarification. Those who fear the clarification muddles things are attributing to Catholic teaching on this subject a crystalline simplicity it does not in fact have.

  142. boredoftheworld says:

    Those who fear the clarification muddles things are attributing to Catholic teaching on this subject a crystalline simplicity it does not in fact have.

    Diocese Repudiates Catholic Priest Who Said Obama Supporters Should Not Seek Communion Tarring and feathering scheduled for 9am Sunday, coffee and donuts to follow in the parish hall.
    http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/11/14/catholic-priest-pummeling-obama-voters/

    The bolded part is the actual headline, the rest of it is merely my interpretation. The “clarification” from the administrator doesn’t muddle things, it grants a license to sin in every area of life. READ IT AGAIN, heck go to the diocesan website and watch the video (I kid you not, they posted a video). I’m ashamed to live in this diocese, I’m ashamed of the hierarchy and I’m ashamed of myself for raising my children in this incredibly corrupt, wishy-washy, nightmare of moral relativism and hypocrisy that causes me to doubt much of what I claim to believe.

    I can’t even talk to the protestants in my family about religious matters anymore without everyone bursting into gales of hysterical laughter when I say “the Church teaches…” because everyone in the room knows that’s perfectly silly. I wish I could wash my hands of the whole sordid disgrace but now it’s like watching a slow motion train wreck.

  143. Rancher says:

    Fr Newman’s original statement DID NOT require “clarification” and his follow up statement does not materially change what he said in the first place. I understand Fr. Z’s comment about people new to this blog and people wanting to learn and how we need to adhere to Peter 3:15. But at the risk of being tossed into the rabbit hole, there are any number of blogs we can go to if we want to read comments people from people justifying their failure to adhere to true Catholic teaching. There are darned few, this one being up until now one of the very few, where the emphasis is on authentic teaching with no compromise, no apology, and no having to tolerate academic arguments by some well educated individuals who have no desire to conform to Catholic teaching but every desire to challenge those who adhere to it.

    If we are to change the view of the majority of misinformed Catholics who favor pro-abortion candidates; if we are to change those who oppose, indeed impede/forbid the TLM; if we are to ever see actual Catholic teaching from our Bishops and pastors rather than the feel good fluff we get now maybe this blog needs to be populated with those who believe that way. Yep I’m old, I’m cranky, and I’m conservative. And I’m not about to change. Those who need to argue how many angels can sit on the tip of a pin rather than just accept that there is a pin and some angels on it drive me nuts.

  144. Brian,

    Thanks for responding and clarifying. Two quickies:

    1. I think it is inaccurate to say that individuals who commit serious sin when they may be lacking in full knowledge or there may not be full consent are in mortal sin.

    2. My point was not to say that one must reach the threshold of an objective “state of sin” before refraining from “approaching the Chalice”, as we Easterners say. Certainly a single act of mortal sin is sufficient to warrant a confession before Holy Communion. (In certain Orthodox Churches, you must always make a confession before approaching the Chalice…no exceptions!)

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  145. I disagree that Father Newman’s statement did not require clarification. It most certainly did, and such clarification from him was indeed helpful and welcome. It appears that what he intended to say was that those who voted for Obama to show their support for his pro-choice position have placed themselves outside of the communion of the Catholic Church (without the canonical penalty?).

    So it is clear now that he was NOT saying that:

    a. They were canonically excommunicated.

    b. This applies to all those who voted for Obama.

    Again, throwing out this label of “mortal sin” indiscriminately gets us into trouble. I think the term the Church has used for some time is “serious matter” or “serious sin”. Its effect as “mortal” depends on the conditions identified earlier.

    That said, I think the Diocesan Administrator shed very little light on the situation and may have only blown more smoke into the media mix, adding a personal “dis” against the good pastor and priest. As GK Chesterton once said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly!” At least Fr. Newman was doing and saying something! The good pastor’s zeal on this issue was excusable. Fr. Laughlin’s murkiness was not. To me, it seemed more like a “monsignor moment” than anything with good pastoral sense.

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  146. RBrown says:

    “Raymond Arroyo: …The bishops I spoke to say that maybe half of their brother bishops if not more voted for Obama. Because they thought the symbol of Obama would overcome racism and be a great healer and unity.”

    I don’t know what to make of that.
    Comment by Brian

    I do.

  147. RBrown says:

    The bishop is quoted, “I won’t politicize the Eucharist,” and added, “I don’t want to alienate people. I want to change their hearts and minds.”

    I wonder how many hearts and minds the good bishop has changed. Obviously, not that of Joe Biden.

  148. Lisa says:

    I’m a fairly recent transplant from the Anglican communion.

    I don’t understand the Diocesan Administrator’s message. It would seem there is a double standard here. We as parishioners are free to act as our individual consciences dictate, BUT OUR PASTOR (who is responsible for teaching and sanctifying us) IS NOT.

    Can someone explain that for me?

  149. Fr. J. says:

    A couple of points (in reply to Chris Altieri and others):
    1) Some of the talk about formal vs material cooperation in another’s sin would be better addressed, it seems, by the famous principle of double effect, because this principle takes account of proportionality; but even so, the evil and unwilled effect (e.g. abortion legislation, executive orders, etc.) cannot be the direct result of one’s action. So, in the case at hand, one would need to demonstrate that electing an official who has in the past and pledges for the future to promote abortion does not directly result from voting for such an official.
    2) One participates in another’s sin by counsel, command, consent, provocation, praise, silence, assistance, defense, or by not punishing the evil done. In this present case, it seems to me that one would have to show–again, by the principle of double effect–that one’s consent or assistance (through voting, campaigning, etc.) did not directly contribute to the candidate’s carrying out his or her program.
    3) Finally, in virtue of canon 1398, whoever procures an abortion (when the effect follows) incurs excommunication “latae sententiae” (automatically). Most priests have the faculty from their Ordinary to lift this excommunication in the sacrament of Penance.
    In the end, one has to decide not only if the action (voting) is a direct assistance to a pro-abortion platform but also if there can be a proportionate reason (if it is deemed indirect) sufficient to justify allowing the evil effect. Of course the system of moral reasoning known as Probabilism has been condemned long ago; likewise, relativism by whatever name. Safe guides in these matters that stir up so much heat and resentment are, as always, St. Thomas; St. Alphonsus; and their faithful commentators (for instance, Fr. Pruemmer, O.P.). Fr. Z. often says, “Think then post”; I would add, “Read saintly Moralists, then post.”

  150. David2 says:

    Fr. Newman could not have meant “excommunication”, since that is a canonical penalty which would have to be lifted before one could be validly absolved in the Sacrament of Penance, to which he is calling the faithful of the parish.

    Interesting point; in the “older” Rituale has both a form of absolution from excommunication (with flagellation):

    http://www.sanctamissa.org/en/resources/books-1962/rituale-romanum/28-the-sacrament-of-penance-absolution-from-excommunication.html

    and one included in the general form of Absolution in a normal Sacramental Confession (no flagellation):

    http://www.sanctamissa.org/en/resources/books-1962/rituale-romanum/28-the-sacrament-of-penance-absolution-from-excommunication.html

  151. dma says:

    “Raymond Arroyo: …The bishops I spoke to say that maybe half of their brother bishops if not more voted for Obama. Because they thought the symbol of Obama would overcome racism and be a great healer and unity.”

    And this is the “good” judgement of our bishops?? Oh, that really makes me so upset. Do they not realize that what Obama represents is only the symbol of a culture of death?? Is not abortion a totally divisive issue with our “good” bishops on one side (supposedly) and Obama on the other? I congratulate Obama for breaking down the barriers of race, but wait a minute, isn’t there a group of about 50 million who will never have an opportunity to be president, and didn’t he promise to increase that group by signing the Freedom of Choice Act? If we are being represented by these bishops, then May God have mercy on all of us. Thank you, Fr. Newman. By speaking out, you have been an instrument in allowing truly good and honest people to think and re-think their consciences.

  152. Brian says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    Somehow, we are missing each other.

    I did not say that “individuals who commit serious sin when they may be lacking in full knowledge or there may not be full consent are in mortal sin.”

    To be personally culpable of committing mortal sin requires grave matter, full knowledge, and full consent of the will. I agree with you.

    The gravity of the matter is, however, an objective issue. It is not dependent on the knowledge and consent of the person engaging in the act. As you know, there is a natural law; a real, objective moral order; with a specific and determine moral content; universally valid and permanent. Objectively speaking, a mortal evil of the act itself, does not depend on full knowledge and full consent of the will. Some acts are in the objective order, intrinsically wrong, gravely evil acts.

    When Fr. Newman instructs his parish about mortal sin, he is talking about the objective moral order. He is saying that, even if they mistakenly believe their act was not sinful, people who commit a grave, intrinsically evil act (e.g., those who vote for a “pro-abortion candidate when a plausible pro-life alternative exits”) are in an objectively, morally disordered condition and should not go to Communion until they have learned to repent of and confessed the gravely disordered act.

  153. Dear Matt Hardesty:

    You wrote: “You said that “the judgment regarding the presence of proportionate reasons is one of prudence, a judgment that each individual must make, by exercising his practical reason”. Didn’t several bishops state that, objectively, there are no proportionate reasons present? So the question is then if one had the necessary awareness of this lack of proportionate reasons? Can true remote material cooperation be mortally sinful? Is this particular scenario akin to say… buying a Johnson & Johnson product even if one is aware that the company donates to Planned Parenthood?

    “I also have a thought no one has expressed yet. In the case of voting for McCain, Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has said that we can never vote for someone because he is the lesser of two evils – we must never choose evil at all. But, we can choose one who will limit evil. Thus, a vote for McCain, (far more pro-life than Obama but still supporting ESCR) would be a morally good act. What are your thoughts on this reasoning?”

    I reply:

    With regard to your first question, regarding the bishops’ several statements, the short answer is that I am not sure. Several bishops did make statements. I have not read all of them. I am, however, quite sure about the following: the bishops have authority to teach Catholic faith and morals; the bishops have the duty, pursuant to Canon 747.2, to teach the principles of morality as these regard the social order. They also may judge human affairs. The text of the pertinent law reads: “It belongs to the Church always and everywhere to announce moral principles, even about the social order, and to render judgment concerning any human affairs insofar as the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls requires it.” Now, the authority and duty inhere in the bishop’s office; Canon Law authoritatively expresses the Church’s understanding of the nature, purpose and limits of the authority and the duty. Thus, we need to attend to the text of the law in order to understand whether and to what extent the bishops’ statements (such as there were, or may have been) regarding the absence of proportionate reasons for choosing a pro-abortion candidate might actually bind the faithful of their dioceses.

    I understand the text to recognize bishops’ authority to teach on faith and morals, and that Christians under their pastoral care are therefore bound to the bishops’ teaching. The bishops also have authority to render judgment on human affairs INSOFAR AS THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE HUMAN PERSON OR THE SALVATION OF SOULS REQUIRES IT. The word, “insofar” is important here, as is a legal principle, according to which powers to bind are to be interpreted as strictly as possible – this means that the law is not to be read in a manner that would make a power to bind IMPLICITLY applicable to a case, and a fortiori to a class of cases. On this reading, for example, a bishop would be well within his rights, and perhaps even duty-bound to tell a pro-abortion lawmaker that his stance is incompatible with Catholic faith and morals, and that in taking such a stance he is placing himself outside the Church’s communion. In other words, there is a direct connection between the stance of the lawmaker and the bishop’s authority and duty. In the case of a voter, it is not clear that such a direct connection exists. In many cases, it is apparent that it does not (your example of voting for McCain is a perfect illustration of this). If the bishops did make statements regarding the presence or absence of proportionate reasons, it seems to me that such statements would have gone beyond the simple enunciation of faith and morals and instruction in the principles of moral reasoning. They would have entered an area in which the bishops power to bind cannot be simply supposed. Simply stated, bishops cannot be simply supposed to have the power to tell the faithful for whom to vote. To say, “vote for X or you’re out” is to assume such a power. Only one bishop I know of came close to this, and he was a retired bishop without a flock and therefore no one to bind. That said, it ought to be informative, and is certainly worthy of reflection, that so many bishops so forcefully made statements, the clear implications of which are that it would be at the very best extremely imprudent to vote for the pro-abortion candidate in the recent election.

  154. Elastico says:

    I think micro–a mustard seed floating in a half-full shot glass. I am willing to believe a parishioner of his (or maybe another individual from around the country) went to confession based upon his well-intentioned letter. Maybe someone decided not to have an abortion. Maybe he saved a soul from damnation on a matter unrelated to this. I would consider that a tremendous effect and worth every targeted bullet or arrow from the MSM. (“Just so, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need not repentance.” Luke 15 gives all this bluster the proper perspective for me. In the mysterious ways and grace of the Lord, the effect of the cause is not always obvious or visible. Jesus, I trust in you.)

  155. Dear Fr. J,

    I need to think some more about whether the principle of double effect is better-suited to use in solving the case under our consideration. It is an interesting idea, about which I simply have not reflected sufficiently.

    One observation: when you say, “the evil and unwilled effect…cannot be the direct result of one’s action,” it makes me unsure you are really talking about the principle of double effect, because this principle precisely regards cases in which the evil is a direct result of one’s act (cf. ST IIa IIae Q64 a7).

    Another: when you say, “So, in the case at hand, one would need to demonstrate that electing an official who has in the past and pledges for the future to promote abortion does not directly result from voting for such an official,” I am confused. It is abundantly clear to me that a vote for a pro-abortion candidate is not DIRECTLY related to any of your ee.gg. (abortion legislation, executive orders, etc.), however imprudent such a vote may be.

  156. Dear wsxyz,

    Many thanks for your expression of personal appreciation.

    With regard to your qDa (quod Deus advertat): I join myself to it wholeheartedly. I wonder, however, what makes you think I would, in a pastoral role, use the same language as I do when engaged as a private citizen in an open discussion on matters I have been trained and equipped to discuss by Mother Church?

    With regard to your remarks on Fr. Newman, I say only that I, too, in my original post, praised his courage, clarity and pastoral zeal in the same matters. I have taken issue only with what I consider to be an unwarranted and misplaced exercise of his powers to bind and loose, an exercise that seems to be rooted in a faulty understanfing of the nature and scope of those powers.

    Personally I find the contributions of commenters such as Chris Altieri to be quite interesting, especially since those of us who have not formally studied our religion thereby have the opportunity to theologically educate ourselves in some small way.

    God forbid, however, that this person is ever responsible for making public statements about such matters on behalf of the Church. 95% of Catholics would simply hear whatever they wanted to hear in his arguments and so very many would end up voting for the greater evil.

    Fr. Newman, on the other hand, has correctly taken a pastoral approach to the question. His statement leaves no doubt what the Church thinks about abortion and helps the common faithful understand that they have an obligation to take positive action to end the mass slaughter of innocent babies.

  157. Everything from “Personally” in the above is a recapitulation of wsxyz’s earlier post. Apologies.

  158. Brian,

    “The gravity of the matter is, however, an objective issue. It is not dependent on the knowledge and consent of the person engaging in the act. As you know, there is a natural law; a real, objective moral order; with a specific and determine moral content; universally valid and permanent. Objectively speaking, a mortal evil of the act itself, does not depend on full knowledge and full consent of the will. Some acts are in the objective order, intrinsically wrong, gravely evil acts.”

    I understand your points now and agree with you. Thanks for taking the time to clarify what you are saying.

    That said, it would seem to me that the better term to use would be “serious sin” or “serious matter” in reference to these sins (especially in this case) and leave the reference to “mortal sin” to those that meet all three requirements. It is a subtle point of catechesis that I believe to be important when clarifying these issues with the faithful.

    We may disagree here:

    “When Fr. Newman instructs his parish about mortal sin, he is talking about the objective moral order. He is saying that, even if they mistakenly believe their act was not sinful, people who commit a grave, intrinsically evil act (e.g., those who vote for a “pro-abortion candidate when a plausible pro-life alternative exits”) are in an objectively, morally disordered condition and should not go to Communion until they have learned to repent of and confessed the gravely disordered act.”

    Where you say “even if they mistakenly believe their act was not sinful,” I disagree that they should not receive Holy Communion, although it is generally beneficial for them to make a confession, especially if they realize their error and are repentant of it. If they are not culpable for their ignorance, that would place their sin into the category of “venial” would it not? It would also make their act of receiving the Eucharist a moment of absolution, since all lesser sins are forgiven through the reception of the Holy Gifts.

    Again, I agree with the essence of what Father Newman was trying to do: expressing the seriousness of the matter in his bulletin announcement (even if he had done so before) and to call those who did vote for the pro-abortion Obama to repentance for their action. I think in this particular situation the notion that all those who did so are in a “morally disordered condition and should not go to Communion” is not necessarily the case.

    It would seem better to say: Examine yourselves. If you acted in ignorance that such a thing was objectively and seriously immoral and a form of cooperating in a grave evil, than simply offer to God a prayer of repentance and approach the Chalice. If you knew it was seriously wrong and contrary to the Catholic faith and yet chose to do it anyway, Confessions are at 3:00pm… etc etc. Otherwise I fear it is a bit like doing surgery with swords.

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

    PS: Chris M – Thank you for your kind prayers. Given the percentage of Catholics who voted for a pro-abortion candidate, it is clear that we have much work to do to aid in “recovery and rescue” as well as the formation of consciences.

  159. Dear mpm,

    Regarding your observation about the private nature of then-Card. Ratzinger’s 2004 letter, I would say a few things. First and foremost. Card. Ratzinger replied to Card. McCarrick, who had written to him in an official capacity with a question from the US bishops. The reply was made public. Since it came from the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in reply to an official query, it has more weight than a simple private letter.

    Of course the Cardinal Prefect of the CDF was not writing about the recent election. He was clarifying a general principle that, because it is a general principle, is applicable to any election, and therefore also to the recent one.

  160. Dear Rancher,

    You said: “There are darned few, this one being up until now one of the very few, where the emphasis is on authentic teaching with no compromise, no apology, and no having to tolerate academic arguments by some well educated individuals who have no desire to conform to Catholic teaching but every desire to challenge those who adhere to it.”

    I have been following this thread pretty closely, and I cannot find anyone to fit the bill, i.e. matching the following description: “well educated individuals who have no desire to conform to Catholic teaching but every desire to challenge those who adhere to it.”

    Did I miss something?

  161. TNCath says:

    The response of the Diocese of Charleston’s administrator was unfortunate, divisive, and, quite frankly, mean.

    Perhaps Father Newman should investigate incardinating into the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph under Bishop Finn.

  162. Over at mine, I made the following remark about Charleston’s statement, as a note promissory of further comment:

    Fr. Newman’s statement was a sincere and pastorally zealous, albeit theologically incorrect misapplication of the Church’s authority to teach and discipline.

    This statement is… oh, Lord, help us. More to follow.

    I cannot say anything right now that would not quickly become invective.

  163. mpm says:

    Christ Altieri,

    I have read your responses today to various posters, and I have no argument with you.

    However, when you say in response to my post that the letter (which was private) was made
    public, we all know that it was leaked to an well-known Italian journalist by “the CDF”.
    I’m not sure the exact rationale was made public.

    However, I have no doubt that if Cardinal Ratzinger, then the Prefect of CDF, had been
    asked to make a public statement, some of the many background principles, i.e., principle
    of doublt effect, cooperation in evil, remote vs. proximate, formal vs. material, etc.,
    perhaps with examples, or footnote references to such works as S.Th. or Prummer, as
    another poster had mentioned, would have been made. Cardinal Ratzinger’s theological
    works tend to be rather fullsome.

    And it should be remembered, that as Prefect of the CDF, he spearheaded one of the
    “projects” regarding the “proportionalist” movement in moral theology exemplified in
    Fr. Charles Curran, right up until the latter’s disauthorization. That covers a period of
    about 15-20 years of detailed analysis of these kinds of questions. Cardinal Ratzinger
    was as well-versed in the ins-and-outs of Catholic Moral Theology as anyone in the world
    and that in spite of being best known for his fundamental and dogmatic theology.

    So, I still think copy-and-pasting that sentence would not have been something he would
    have found acceptable, given the use the “Faithful Citizenship” document was going to
    serve.

    As “FC” stands, nobody, and certainly not those bishops who spoke out this season,
    missed the notion that what it gave with the right hand, it seemed to take back with
    the left.

    If you have no problem with that, then we just have a disagreement, and I have no way to
    “prove” my point of view, so let’s just shake hands.

    BTW, I am curious if you are reasoning as an ethicist, moral theologian or canon lawyer.

  164. mpm says:

    “Fr. Newman’s statement was a sincere and pastorally zealous, albeit theologically
    incorrect
    misapplication of the Church’s authority to teach and discipline.”

    Dear Chris Altieri,

    I think you mean “incorrect application”, which is how I’ll take it.

    There you go again! “Incorrect” or “incomplete”? There is a big difference. I would
    hate to think that a parish priest needs to hit a home run, i.e., “get all of it”, just
    in order to be a good shepherd to the flock entrusted to him.

    Let’s give Fr. Newman credit for his gumption in directo, and then, if necessary, quibble
    about any errant details.

  165. Pete Morrell says:

    Having read these many comments, I find the conversation fascinating. Even still, I think there are deeper fundamental issues that have not been addressed, and are at the root of the disagreement over father’s letter.

    1.) PRUDENTIAL JUDGEMENT – I believe it is entirely appropriate and necessary at times for the Church to give mandates concerning specific acts, voting, etc. What is more, I adamantly deny that this is a usurpation of true personal freedom in the Catholic sense.

    2a.) ONTOLOGICAL REALITY OF THE MORAL ORDER – In the statements of the critics I sense an implicit denial of the ontological reality of the moral order – of our need to conform to this moral order embodied in Christ and the Church’s teachings regardless of whether or not our conscience approves.

    2b.) THE ENTHRONEMENT OF SUBJECTIVE CONSCIENCE – This movement of people to enthrone personal conscience as the key to sin have completely lost sight of the fact that sin primarily enters the world through deception and rationalization. They, in effect, define mortal sin such that it no longer exists.

    Just my thoughts. I’m no theologian – just a young lay Catholic who applauds the courage of Father Newman.

  166. Dear mpm,

    Actually, what I meant by “theologically incorrect misapplication, etc.,” was the following:

    Fr. Newman’s statement misapplied the Church’s authority to teach and discipline, and the misapplication was motivated by his incorrect understanding of the pertinent theology.

    I hope this clarifies things. It may re-open the discussion between us.

    I do give Fr. Newman credit for his gumption in directo (do you wrute HTML code to get the boldface and italics?).

    As for your baseball metaphor, I would generally agree with you. My point is that he was going for a home run, and hit a long foul.

  167. Dear mpm,

    Regarding your curiosity: I am a philosopher by training and vocation (I am preparing my PhD defense, at the Pontifical Gregorian University), who earns his bread as a journalist. I am essentially an Augustinian; I will, when reasoning, and in constructing arguments, draw on any discipline or area of knowledge and learning that bears on the problem being treated, hoping to let them inform and perfect one another, as they should, for they are not different or separate branches of knowledge, but distinct moments in the search for truth.

  168. Brian says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    I appreciate you cordial manner of engaging in these exchanges. I am glad to see that we are getting somewhere in understanding each others. We still have some disagreements.

    First, regarding your statement: “it would seem to me that the better term to use would be “serious sin” or “serious matter” in reference to these sins (especially in this case) and leave the reference to “mortal sin” to those that meet all three requirements. It is a subtle point of catechesis that I believe to be important when clarifying these issues with the faithful.”
    There are certain sins that are objectively spoken of as mortal sins, e.g. murder, adultery, blasphemy, etc. Although a person who engages in these acts may not be culpable for mortal sin, is consistent with Catholic Tradition to designate these as “mortal sins.”

    St. Thomas Aquinas, after discussing issues related to knowledge and consent, nevertheless, writes (ST I-II, 88 art 2) “one sin may be venial generically, and another generically mortal, according as the genus or species of an act is determined by its object. For, when the will is directed to a thing that is in itself contrary to charity, whereby man is directed to his last end, the sin is mortal by reason of its object. Consequently it is a mortal sin generically, whether it be contrary to the love of God, e.g. blasphemy, perjury, and the like, or against the love of one’s neighbor, e.g. murder, adultery, and such like: wherefore such sins are mortal by reason of their genus.”

    Second, regarding your statement regarding receiving Communion, consider the divorced/re-married Catholic. Whether they fully believe or understand that there sin is mortal, they are not to go to Communion.

  169. mpm says:

    Dear Chris Altieri,

    Thanks for the response. You are a gentleman AND a scholar!

    I may want to touch base again on some of your thoughts, but this ain’t my website
    and I don’t want to do that here. So, I may get in touch via your website.

    mpm

  170. sparksj3 says:

    I just want to throw out some items for discussion regarding the diocesean statement from Msgr Laughlin. I think there is far more here than what meets the eye.

    1) According to Diogenes at Off the Record, Msgr. Laughlin personally contacted Fr. Newman to thank him for his strong statements and to bemoan the fact that the US Bishops lacked his courage and openness on the matter. Why would Msgr. Laughlin act in this manner only to repudiate the same man less than 48 hours later?

    2) Msgr. Laughlin issued a very clear and very strong voting statement on the front page of his diocesean journal prior to the election. The statement repudiated those who would use the argument of a lesser evil to vote for a pro-abortion candidate. Why would he say this and then issue some nebulous statement about voting according to a fully explored conscience?

    Though I do not know Msgr. Laughlin, I know some that do. They have always spoken of him as an orthodox priest who, if he is disliked is disliked because of his orthodoxy and moral principles. He is a friend of the Tridentine Mass and the Benedictine Reforms. He is also a very old man, struggling with illnesses and over-work.

    Call me conspiratorial, but I smell foul-play. Too much simply does not add up. I mean, honestly: a recorded video message with a statement being read into a camera? It sounds to me like someone’s hand was forced (ala Liberius).

    Just some thoughts.

  171. Fr. J. says:

    I’m prompted to add one last comment (I promise!). It seems to me that the human act being discussed here is, of course, voting (maybe in some cases campaigning, too) for a pro-abortion candidate. That act, the vote, is an act of consent to the candidate’s holding office. Ordinarily in American politics, the candidate’s party’s “platform” determines the policies the party will try to enact by means of their candidates. So, in the present case, one would have to argue that a Catholic’s vote for a candidate whose party platform was pro-abortion was an act of consent to the candidate and some of his platform but not of the abortion “plank.” In this way, such a Catholic could argue, by the principle of double effect, that the moral act (the vote) was for the candidate according to certain aspects of his platform (i.e. “secundum quid”) and not others (that is abortion, of course), which followed as an unintended though foreseeable consequence.
    And herein lies the problem: how can anyone argue that a candidate can stand apart from his platform? Not that they will certainly enact everything on it, but rather that they will at least try in some degree. Consequently, a vote for the candidate is an act of consent to their platform, and consent to something sinful is a sin, especially in such a grave and obvious matter. Now someone might say that it is at least probable that somehow or other the platform will not be enacted. But–as I mentioned before referring to the condemnation of Probabilism–a mere probability is not enough in Catholic morality. There must at the very least be a greater probability. So, to be clear, because I think this matter will have great repercussions: this is no mere “imprudence” on the part of those who supported the pro-abortion candidates, as though it were a mere choice of means to ensure good government, perhaps siding with those who intend to guarantee abortion on demand. There is here only a kind of “silence” or consent to those who have made no secret about their intention to keep abortion legal; either of which is a participation in sin (one which carries the penalty of excommunication with it for those who procure abortion successfully). The only possible excuse that can be made for such voters is that they never intended the morally heinous intentions of the candidate and his party to be carried out, because they supposed there was some probability that it wouldn’t occur. Fr. Newman, then, was quite right to correct such people and remind them of their need for Penance, because there is no clear preponderance of probability that such a vote was made with a right intention. Otherwise, it seems to me, one could equally excuse those who, say, on the eve of the Spanish Civil War voted for the Communists, the Anarchists, or the Socialists, ignoring their pledges to strip the Church of her property. But this is only an illustration and isn’t meant to open a new line of discussion on the events of Spain long ago!

  172. Steve Abrahamson says:

    I whole-heartedly agree with Fr. Newman. I come from a Native American community and people here and across America support the Pro-abortion candidate. We traditionally have always voted Democratic. I voted for the Pro-life candidate and DO see abortion as an evil that I may may become more widespread. Our whole American culture seems to be becoming more atheistic.
    God Bless and Peace To You…

  173. Susan Peterson says:

    I thought Fr. Newman’s remarks were a bit too absolute in that some people may not have been subjectively guilty of mortal sin when voting for Obama, as they were convinced for various reasons that this was the right thing to do. (For instance the Japanese woman who posted far above on this thread.) They were wrong, and (some of) the bishops told them they were wrong, but they also mistakenly believed that they didn’t have much of an obligation to listen to these bishops. It is very easy to believe that many people were in this state….I know quite a few of them.

    However the administrator’s remarks made it seem as if people could have formed their consciences WELL and voted for Obama. His remarks about freedom failed to make it clear that we can use the freedom we have to do wrong. The administrator’s statements were far more wrong on one side than Fr. Newman’s were on the other. All he really needed to do was to say, “Fr. Newman’s statements were necessarily not in great detail as he was speaking in the space of a short bulletin column. A fuller explanation of the teaching of the American bishops on this matter can be found in Faithful Citizenship.” That would not have hung Fr. Newman out to dry, and he would have managed to say neither yes nor no, thus getting everyone off his back. It would actually have been better for him, for his career in the church, to do this. This makes me wonder if he didn’t have his own private reasons for phrasing his response the way he did.

    I think Fr. Newman should have known that a major big deal was going to be made of this statement of his. He puts his bulletins on the internet, after all. And even if he didn’t, all it would take was one disaffected parishioner, or family member of a parishioner, to go to the media with what he said. If all Catholics in this country believed what he said and followed it, the results of the last election would have been different. There are more elections coming up in a very few years. Therefore there are people with a strong interest in squashing such ideas as fast as possible, and the media are generally in sympathy with them. Fr. Newman wasn’t being “as wise as serpents” when he did this.

    I suspect, though, that that administrator just killed his chances of ever actually being a bishop, at least while Benedict is pope!
    Susan Peterson

  174. TJM says:

    At the end of the day, I would rather we err on the side of Father Newman’s position, rather than the squishy, mushy, nuanced positions which have contributed to the death of 40 million infants in the US. He is a lion for the Faith and his courageous stance should be emulated by the Heirarchy. I will NEVER contribute one more dime to any USCCB endeavor until they take as strong as a position as Father Newman. I hope Benedict makes him a bishop and sends some of the “nuancers” into early retirement. Tom

  175. Dear Fr. J,

    I am still not sure about either the applicability of the principle of double effect, or your analysis of the present case, presumably in light of that principle.

    One thing that jumps out at me from your most recent comment is the difference between justification and excuse. When you write, “The only possible excuse that can be made for such voters is that they never intended the morally heinous intentions of the candidate and his party to be carried out, because they supposed there was some probability that it wouldn’t occur,” The following observation occurs to me: suppose for a moment that people WERE ignorant of Church teaching, etc.; then, they might be EXCUSED. The case you present sounds to me more like a case of justification, if you remember that I am talking about being justified in reaching a prudential judgment, and recall the provisis I offered regarding the relationship between conscience and prudential judgment. I would add to this only that some people voted for the more radically anti-life candidate in the recent election while shuddering to think that his pro-abortion and stem-cell agenda might pass, and firmly resolved to combat those, tooth and nail, and convinced that defeating, e.g. FOCA, is still possible.

    I certainly think it is still possible to defeat FOCA, though it will take the concerted efforts of all persons of good will, with the leadership of well-informed and equipped persons with knowledge and right opinion . I do not think people who voted for Obama are necessarily in a state of mortal sin for it; I do think we need to pull together now and fight the monstrosity that is FOCA. We need to do so with intelligence, yes, practical intelligence, rooted in firm moral conviction, nurtured by prayer, (sustained by the sacraments), and tended by politically astute leaders who are formed in the preceding(just to be clear, I mean bishops and politicians).

  176. This reminds me a bit of the debate about what to do with the apostasy of Christians after the end of the Imperial persecutions…

    I think the degree of culpability is mitigated in most cases with Catholic voters for Obama. There was so much confusion with the media and even from the clergy, although we can thank God that a number of bishops, priests and deacons spoke out courageously.

    Someone at one of our missions made a comment: I wonder if this debate would be going on if Obama had lost? A great question. I tend to think it would and should have, but perhaps it would not have been with as much zeal. Clearly the pro-life task has become much more difficult. Perhaps, though, it will mobilize us to greater action now that the opposition is far more visible?

    I agree with Chris – we certainly need to focus our energies now on defeating F.O.C.A….and all those pro-life Catholic Democrats who voted for this man should be on the forefront of opposing it. I wonder how many will do so?

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  177. TJM says:

    The bigger question, Fr. Deacon Daniel, is how will the American heirarchy respond to “Catholic” legislators who vote for the Act. If they do not respond with excommunication, then the political battle is over and the Church will suffer a huge setback from which it will not likely recover in the US in our lifetime. It’s now or never for this group of bishops to stand for the Faith and the unborn or forever hold their peace. Tom

  178. Jim Dorchak says:

    This topic was just discussed on Mike Galligers national radio talk show.

    I and several of the other protesters called in and he interviewed Ivan Ortiz who was also on Fox news and local news as well about the protest.

    The issue about the Diocese being infavor and now not of the statement has grown leggs. The question is now:

    Is the Catholic Church in the USA Pro-Life?

    It does not appear to now be pro life since it could lose its tax free status if it supports the pro life status.

    Being pro life is now political and not moral.

    Jim Dorchak

  179. Brian says:

    There are some important differences between this current crisis and the Donatist crisis after the persecutions.

    Most importantly, we are not in a crisis about deciding how to deal with straying Catholics after the evil of abortion was finally ended, as was the case with the Donatist. Unborn children continue to be murdered.

    Elections occur every two years and Catholics repeatedlty vote for pro-abortion candidates. This legal massacre of the unborn would end if Catholics would stop casting these evil votes; votes that serve to keep abortion legal. The Church needs to act firmly and decisely or risk becoming complicit, through neglect, in this large-scale murder of the young.

  180. gene- pbg florida says:

    [Behold! Incredibly sloppy thought and bad taste. - Fr. Z]

    Did Fr. Newman repent when he voted for pro-life and pro-death penalty McCain or Bush. [He doesn't know how Fr. Newman voted, if he voted at all, which we also don't know.] And as I am sure [This is called rash judgment.] he voted for Bush then did he repent for voting for a man who waged a needless war [simply dumb] that killed hundreds of thousands Iraqis and tortured others. Does the Catholic church accept some responsibilty for the continuation of the Iraq war after helping get Bush elected because he said he was pro-life. [The Catholic Church got Pres. Bush elected? ] And who is Fr. Newman to put himself on the level of God and judge others.

    This is why the GOP is going down the tube and why the Catholic church is hurting for men to join the priesthood. [Amazingly bad reasoning.] I remember the bishops who supported Bush. The last 2 out of 3 bishops in my parish were pedofiles. [Is that relevant? No, it was just a pointlessly stupid thing to add for the sake of hurting the Church.]

    Perhaps Fr. Newman doesn’t consider the Iraq war and torture significant because we are killing Muslims and not Christians over there. Maybe this is too much but has he ever asked forgiveness for backing pro-war and pro-death penalty candidates. This is the height of hypocrisy. [And this is the height of stupidity. This fellow won't be posting anymore.]

    For sheer stupidity

  181. Richard S says:

    The priest has clearly overstepped his authority. He is only feeding the racist wacko’s who crave any reason they can find to hate President-Elect Obama. Instead he should be preaching about ways to heal the divisions in this country instead of making them deeper.
    I find it interesting that those of you who are so called “pro-life” say nothing about the invasion of Iraq by a pro-life president that has resulted in the deaths of 10′s of thousands, if not 100′s of thousands of people, including children.

  182. Since the start of the Iraq war… 6,587,650 American children have died from abortion…

  183. Damien says:

    How brilliant and graceful the words of one who serves the Lord of Truth. The Spirit moves where He pleases, and He has moved within Fr. Newman that’s for sure. Sadly, however, while truth unites, it will divide, as we have seen the effects the article has had nationally. Yet, he fights on the side of Truth and thus Truth will prevail.

  184. Damien says:

    “I find it interesting that those of you who are so called “pro-life” say nothing about the invasion of Iraq by a pro-life president that has resulted in the deaths of 10’s of thousands, if not 100’s of thousands of people, including children.”

    This is simply a red herring argument (or perhaps even a non sequitur), it has nothing to do with the dialogue at hand.

    If you wish, however, to talk about the Iraq war, I suggest reading up on Just War principles. Also the numbers you mentioned are arbitrary and does not simply mean that it is the US army which has killed all those innocent people. If you are referring to the Army’s presence as being a cause for those deaths carried out by their own people then you are simply ignoring that one is specially responsible for what one does and not for what others do.

  185. Kimmy says:

    Fr. Tom Euteneuer: The Catholic Vote

    Human Life International e-Newsletter
    Volume 03, Number 39 | Friday, October 24, 2008

    I have been asked by many people to help clarify Catholic teaching on exercising one’s voting rights, especially with respect to the abortion issue. There are many candidates across the nation running on many issues, and Catholics are trying to sort through them all, so I will state the Church’s position as unequivocally as possible for the education of the faithful and not as an endorsement of any particular candidate or candidates: true Catholics are not “single-issue” voters – we are principled voters. That determines which candidates we give our vote to and it determines the state of our souls after we vote.

    With respect to the abortion issue, the principle in question is the moral impossibility for a Catholic to cooperate in an act or an institution that is “intrinsically evil.” Now, something that is “intrinsically evil” is not just a bad thing – it is a heinous thing, trumping all other moral considerations, and we can never legitimately commit the act ourselves or approve of it in anyone else. Casting a vote for a candidate who forcefully advocates the killing of innocent unborn babies shows approval or unacceptable toleration of that heinous crime against humanity, and Catholics can never do it in good conscience. The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls such an attitude and action “formal cooperation” in evil (#2272). This does not mean that I commit the evil myself. It means that I agree with it and have made it possible for a person in public office to continue and/or advance that evil in my society.

    Formal cooperation in the evil act of another is a sin, and depending on the gravity of the person’s evil act, formal cooperation in it can be a mortal sin. Since procured abortion is an intrinsically evil act, and all promotion of it fits into the same moral category, voting for a person who forcefully advocates it must be a mortal sin. Add to the sin of formal cooperation in evil the sin of disobedience to legitimate Church authority. To date the USCCB and more than a dozen US bishops and state bishops’ conferences have clarified these principles for Catholics, and their teachings couldn’t be clearer.

    Further, add the sin of scandal that a regrettable number of priests and religious are giving by their appalling disingenuousness about Church teachings both in and out of the pulpit. Catholic parents and teachers equally give scandal when they do not teach their children the principles that undergird moral behavior or properly form their consciences according to the Truth that is in Christ.

    Some ask if a Catholic may vote for someone whose policies would advance an agenda that is mostly in line with the Catholic Church’s teaching? Also, what if the Catholic disagrees with the candidate’s position on abortion but still wants to vote for this candidate for other reasons consistent with our values? Here the Church uses the term “proportionate reason” to indicate that there must be some kind of balance in the candidate’s position that indicates it is likely that a greater good would be accomplished for society despite the evil he or she advocates. Proportionate reasoning usually has to do with positions that are not intrinsically evil in themselves or that, if they are, would constitute such a minimal part of the platform that they would be “outweighed” somehow in the grand scheme of the candidate’s public service. According to the above principle, however, the degree to which the candidate would promote something as heinous as abortion can literally nullify all the other “good” that he or she would do for humanity! When the fundamental right to life is denied in society, all other rights and goods are therefore threatened. The very moral foundation of a people is eroded. So the answer has to be no, it is not legitimate to disagree on abortion and still vote for a radical abortion candidate.

    May a Catholic vote for an “imperfect” candidate if the radical abortion candidate is worse? The Church says yes, but only if the vote is not expressed as an agreement with the “imperfect” elements of the candidate’s policies and only if the vote is intended to limit the evil that other candidate would inevitably do.

    It is truly regretful that we have gotten to the point where we might have to surrender some of our basic values in the voting booth because we have not successfully insisted on the very best candidates for public office to serve the common good. That is a discussion for another day, but I anticipate that if Catholics do not assert Catholic values forcefully in elections and public policy from here on out, we may be faced in future elections with no choice whatsoever that can morally satisfy the Catholic conscience. Heaven help and guide us all on November 4th.

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    SL Action Items

    * Bishop Robert W. Finn: Freedom of Choice Act Would Remove All Limitations on Abortions
    * Bishop Vasa: Pro-Abortion Candidates are “Disqualified” – Clarifies “Faithful Citizenship”
    * Bishops’ Statement: Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship

    Sincerely Yours in Chris