I don’t often discuss either politics or religion on this blog because they tend to invoke ire, mostly in myself... here I shall abandon my normal abstinence on the subjects and point you to this little abomination
A Catholic Priest holding Communion over the heads of his democratic voting parishioners
If any of you stopped in for the usual fiction writing banter, I’ll continue that in my next post. I’ll state ahead of time that I don’t tolerate derogatory commentary about an entire group of people, so any religion or Catholic bashing is disallowed – making points on things you dislike is fair game, but not blaming an entire population.
If you haven’t read the article yet, go read it... I’ll still be here when you get back...
This is wrong on so many levels I scarcely know where to begin. The thing I find possibly most offensive is that this priest is a representative of my faith. It is fine to preach from his pulpit, that is his job. It’s fine to impart to his individual parishioners the teachings of the Church, but to tell them that voting for a candidate is a sin so grievous that they should forfeit the right to the Sacrament of Communion? Really, Father?
To be fair, Rev. Jay Scott Newman actually said that if his parishioners voted for a pro-abortion candidate when there was an alternative candidate who was pro-life, it, “...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.”
He went on to say that they should not receive Communion until they had made the Sacrament of Reconciliation... Okay, I have a few qualms with this. First, aren’t we always under the judgment of divine law, and by ‘divine’, don’t we mean God’s judgment rather than a priest’s judgment? Not to negate the job of a priest, they are spiritual leaders and if his vantage point was in counseling one of his parishioners against having an abortion, I’d have no problem with this. That’s his job, and is in line with the Church’s teaching for his congregation and parishioners, not for the entire country regardless of what they believe.
This smacks to me of spiritual extortion – and I am a Catholic, which makes this even more unnerving, because it seems to me that this priest is laying aside other tenets of our faith in order to further one agenda. What of those parishioners who voted for Obama? They could just make confession, take their penance and be done with this, right? Not if they are true Catholics and abide by their faith, they can’t. You can’t lie a penance – God doesn’t fool that easy, and that’s essentially what this priest is telling them to do – repent their vote... how many of them do you think changed their minds in light of his sermon? So, say some of them did decide just to lie the confession and get the episode behind them – lying to a priest is a sin, too, isn’t it? And wouldn’t it be the priest at fault for that sin?
Another factor to the Sacrament of Reconciliation that he seems to be missing – by the Church’s teaching, a sin is an action taken by a person with full knowledge that what they are doing is wrong and harmful to another person, their relationship with another person, and theirs (or another’s) relationship with God. While the priest might argue that by voting this way they’ve affected another person’s relationship with God, or that they’ve condoned another person’s sin, the priest cannot verify in any way that the parishioner believed this to be a sin at the time they voted or even currently consider it a sin... you can’t sin on accident – you also can’t judge what’s in another person’s heart – not even if you’re a priest.
Many devout Catholics do believe that you should abstain from Communion unless you’ve received Reconciliation. So telling his parishioners to go to Confession isn’t so much the issue, as telling them what they have to confess.
There have been other cases of Church officials stating that politicians who support pro-choice legislation should be denied the Sacraments. First, this is a little less unsettling to me than telling an entire congregation who might disagree with a politician’s stance on this issue but think him best for the job otherwise that they are sinning by voting for him. It’s still unsettling though because you are asking a politician to put his job to the side and rule through his religion – and they can’t do that. Well, I take that back, many of them do just that, but it’s absolutely wrong when they do. There’s a separation between Church and State for a reason and no one of faith should want them to overlap at all.
Ethically, the politician has promised to answer for his constituents, not himself. As a private entity the Church is allowed to deny the Sacrament, but I think it’s an injustice to deny any Catholic the body and blood of Christ for following a promise and doing what he feels is ethically and morally right. And I think it’s overstepping for the Church to deem these sins, especially sins heavy enough to essentially cut the person off from God – isn’t that the biggest sin, to turn someone away from God?
I think the largest problem here, for me, is that you have one or a handful of priests and Bishops making these decisions. These are men. Their vocation demands respect, but they are still men. I don’t feel that these rulings adequately portray the teachings of the Church, either, but people outside of the Catholic faith see these things and form an opinion that is less than good... it’s been known to turn Catholics away from their faith as well.
Well, that’s my two cents. What’s yours?