Here is my latest article for InsideCatholic. It summarizes the week’s events and the responses we’ve had at St Mary’s.
Newman in the Lion’s Den
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Fr. Newman’s statement did not need better nuance, it needed better accuracy. Even your reading of it (which I believe is correct), is not what Fr. Newman says he believes now. You say in the article:”He concluded that, if they voted for Obama, they ought to go to confession before coming to Communion.”Fr. Newman has back tracked on that, because he knows it is unsupportable position. His clarification of his clarification says:”“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 NewmanPastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church”If you would like an example of how the question should be handled see this:http://www.fargodiocese.org/bishop/Homilies/SupportDignityOfHumanLife.pdfPS I have been pummeled on other websites for saying that Fr. Newman’s position in the bulletin and answers to the press is what Fr. Longenecker believes it to be in this article.
Can someone clarify the finer points of order here?Take the example of someone who voted for Obama for the express purpose of supporting abortion, fully understand the Church’s position, and fully intending to participate in this evil.Has that person committed a sin? Is it a mortal or venial sin (cite a reference)? If venial, does it have to be confessed before receiving communion?Thanks in advance.
Father, I’ve read it and already copy/pasted it to my list. An excellent summary of what happened and where all of this will lead in our Church. To my mind, through this whole season (election to present), you and Fr. Newman have been trying to guide Catholics in their moral formation issues. You were/are not trying to politicize. Most of the negative reactions (and maybe some of the positive!), you have received, have been political in bent rather than focused on the moral issues of your posts. Fr. Newman’s original letter was to address:1. the state of souls approaching the Body of Christ, and2. the obligation to pray for our leaders.Your posts this morning remain consistent in their intent. The negative responses remain consistent in THEIR intent and agendas. As my Dad used to say “A man convinced against his will, remains of the same opinion still.”Again and again I say thank you and blessings on all you do in His Name.
The Lions Den is were martyrs are made.God Bless you and Father Newman.
Oh, I guess I should add:Should good, solid Catholic moral teaching have real-life applications? One would hope so; certainly our priests hope so. Does good, solid Catholic moral teaching have political ramifications? One would hope, but sadly that is not always the case!
Obpoet,The Church is clear, if you voted for Obama because of his stance on abortion, you have formally cooperated with grave evil, and have objectively committed a mortal sin.Formal cooperation is where you help someone with the means to sin, while agreeing with their sin. Material cooperation is where you support someone with the means to sin without agreeing with their sin. For example, I used to work at a printer. I was working a press, and I started reading the book we were printing. It was a protestant book on marital relations. In the book it allowed all sorts of objectively mortal sins, while using the Word of God to back it up (I think they called it the undefiled bed). I went to my priest and he told me that I materially cooperated with this grave sin, however, my cooperation was remote enough, and the proportional reasons (my need to support my family) great enough, that I could continue to work there. Even with this advice, I quit. Some materially cooperation is so remote, that the proportional reason needs to be only slight. For example you go to a hospital for surgery, say a hip replacement. That same surgical unit provides tubal ligations. By using that hospital you are material cooperating with the tubal ligations, but the cooperation is so remote, that convenience of getting to the hospital or the quality of the hospital in other areas would be enough to allow it. However, if you patronized that hospital because they were the only hospital around that provided abortions, and you wanted to the support them, that would be formal cooperation, and formal cooperation no matter how remote is always sinful. I hope this helps.
Father, I did not make the connection between Fr. Newman’s church and the proximity to you before reading your article. BTW, Good article! Catholics are also writing letters and sending them to to Fr. Newman via snail mail to show their support.
Obpoet,May I refer you to sections 34-37 of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Faithful Citizenship Statement (http://www.usccb.org/faithfulcitizenship/FCStatement.pdf):Here is part of par. 34: “A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takesa position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’sintent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formalcooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’sopposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to otherimportant moral issues involving human life and dignity.”So, a Catholic may vote for a candidate who is pro-abortion IF and only if they are not voting for him for that reason but for other moral reasons. The Statement explains the limitations to this very carefully in par. 35: “There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptableposition may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons.Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not toadvance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamentalmoral evil.”Reading the entire Statement, if you haven’t already, will clarify more.
“A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia.””When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”The Pope seems to have stated it clearly. And the proportionate reasons to the contrary seem to be lacking. 48 million per year and counting. What is the war tally?
“Reptilian”, Father?I’ll admit that if I’d had your week, worse words would have come to my mind. All the same . . . ***BTW, count me among the lapsed catholics brought back into the church at the hands of a priest as willing to teach the truth as you and Fr. Newman. I can’t quite say I was reptilian prior to my reversion, but certainly I’m more human now ;-).Will keep the kids at CCD praying for our clergy every week (and for us to be good parishioners as well). We are very grateful for your service.
Obpoet,You can not use the 48 million figure. You can only use what you feel would be the difference between the number of abortions under Obama and the number of abortions under McCain. If voting for McCain would have stopped 48 million abortions, of course I would have voted for him. Unfortunately, I concluded that voting for McCain would not save any aborted babies lives. I saw and see no evidence that voting for McCain would have made any substantive difference in the numbers of abortions.
Father, I thought you were an observer of the concept of religious obedience. Your administrator, appointed I presume by the Vatican in lieu of a bishop, has asked you to tone it down in observances of the many subtleties of the church's teachings on conscience. Yet you persist in treating this as a cut & dry issue and acting as if you were a persecuted disciple of Christ. I think you and Newman are rather more like petulant children in dire need of some strict discipline from a stern abbot.You've caused me to examine my own conscience and think more deeply on this issue. I predict by the end of this you'll also have a bit more penitent hear regarding all this Obama talk.
The 48 million is for those who wish to extend the dedate on war to a global perspective: global war, global abortion.I think it’s more helpful to limit our focus to the USA. But on both counts, abortion trumps war, as Father L. has so succinctly demonstrated.
Oh, Marcus, Marcus…The only thing you have managed to do with all your diatribes is to1. reinforce those Catholics who have (fallen into apostasy?) ignored Church teaching on abortion–And there are a LOT of them, make no mistake: laity, priests, bishops, and, of course, politicians.2. reinforce those of us Catholics who firmly believe the truth of what Fr. Newman originally said, i.e., that “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. He did NOT name a politician.Fr. Newman has already addressed that fact that he could have done a better job with the letter had he known that AP would pick it up, misinterpret, and give their own take to the world. The letter was written solely for his own parishioners who had been well catechized on the morality of the issues involved.You are not alone, Marcus; you’re keeping good company with many out there (most not quite as verbal, I’ll admit) who struggle. God is in the struggle.Blessings
Well said, Father. Well said.
I have deep troubles with the diocesan statement, as it goes way beyond the question of voting and suggests that any Catholic can commit sin and decide that it’s “OK with my conscience,” the reasoning that has been used for 40 years to justify the use of artificial contraception.Speaking of which, the question of “proportionate issues” should have been settled by _Evangelium Vitae_, which says that outlawing abortion *and* contraception should be equal and top priorities for Catholic. I notice that _Forming Consciences_ does not even *mention* contraception.
Also, it is worth noting that, if we are to compare “proportionate reasons” by ranking dead bodies, countless millions are killed by IUDs, birth control pills and in vitro fertilization.