Diocese Repudiates Catholic Priest Who Said Obama Supporters Should Not Seek Communion by Fox News, updates us on a blog posted here previously.
“Father Newman’s statements do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church’s teachings. Any comments or statements to the contrary are repudiated,” said Msgr. Martin Laughlin, administrator of the Charleston Diocese, which is currently without a bishop.
“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,” he wrote. “And my suspicion proved well-founded.”
How interesting that Off the Record in Catholic Culture, reveals Msgr. Laughlin’s statement on church teachings and the repudiation of Newman’s statements, but does not clarify his initial support of Newman in The State‘s local newspaper story which noted otherwise.
A Greenville priest who told parishioners those who cast ballots for President-elect Barack Obama risk placing themselves “outside of the full communion of Christ’s church” is simply enunciating church teaching and has the full support of the Diocese of Charleston, a spokesman said Thursday.
While Newman has been the most outspoken of South Carolina priests in the wake of the election, the administrator of the diocese of Charleston, Msgr. Martin T. Laughlin, supports him fully, said diocese spokesman Steve Gajdosik.
“I think it’s fair to say that Father Newman’s letter echoes the sentiments of Father Laughlin,” he said.
And just two days before the newspaper story came out, an email from Laughlin to Newman.
Thank you for your statement. I wish the bishops would have been as forthright. Why did they not speak before the election?
How odd that Fr. Newman would have the initial support of Msgr. Laughlin, but after Newman’s words in his letter to his parishioners breaks out beyond Charleston, Laughlin repudiates Newman? Newsbusters.
The statement from Laughlin includes the folllowing. An emphasis on the church allowing people to make their own decisions, is made as well.
The pulpit is reserved for the Word of God.
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.”
That being said, let us explore what the Catechism has said. Bizzy Blog has done an outstanding job in collecting this together.
Father Newman made no “statements contrary to Catholic teachings,” and if I may be so clever, Msgr. Laughlin didn’t say that he did. He said they were “inadequate.” But if even Laughlin had written, “The diocese repudiates every word of Fr. Newman’s statements,” the diocese would be wrong (see UPDATE; it is wrong), and I will reference material supported by official Catholic teachings to prove it.
2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.
As to voters’ responsibilities, here is EWTN’s Father Stephen F. Torraco in 2002, in “A Brief Catechism for Catholic Voters”:
Q3. If I think that a pro-abortion candidate will, on balance, do much more for the culture of life than a pro-life candidate, why may I not vote for the pro-abortion candidate?
If a political candidate supported abortion, or any other moral evil, such as assisted suicide and euthanasia, for that matter, it would not be morally permissible for you to vote for that person. This is because, in voting for such a person, you would become an accomplice in the moral evil at issue. For this reason, moral evils such as abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are examples of a “disqualifying issue.” A disqualifying issue is one which is of such gravity and importance that it allows for no political maneuvering. It is an issue that strikes at the heart of the human person and is non-negotiable. A disqualifying issue is one of such enormity that by itself renders a candidate for office unacceptable regardless of his position on other matters.
Q6. If I think that a candidate who is pro-abortion has better ideas to serve the poor, and the pro-life candidate has bad ideas that will hurt the poor, why may I not vote for the candidate that has the better ideas for serving the poor?
….. solidarity (with the poor) can never be at the price of embracing a “disqualifying issue.” Besides, when it comes to the unborn, abortion is a most grievous offense against solidarity, for the unborn are surely among society’s most needful. The right to life is a paramount issue because as Pope John Paul II says it is “the first right, on which all the others are based, and which cannot be recuperated once it is lost.” If a candidate for office refuses solidarity with the unborn, he has laid the ground for refusing solidarity with anyone.
Q7. If a candidate says that he is personally opposed to abortion but feels the need to vote for it under the circumstances, doesn’t this candidate’s personal opposition to abortion make it morally permissible for me to vote for him, especially if I think that his other views are the best for people, especially the poor?
A candidate for office who says that he is personally opposed to abortion but actually votes in favor of it is either fooling himself or trying to fool you. ….. If you vote for such a candidate, you would be an accomplice in advancing the moral evil of abortion. Therefore, it is not morally permissible to vote for such a candidate for office, even, as explained in questions 3 and 6 above, you think that the candidate’s other views are best for the poor.
Q14. Is it a mortal sin to vote for a pro-abortion candidate?
To vote for such a candidate even with the knowledge that the candidate is pro-abortion is to become an accomplice in the moral evil of abortion. If the voter also knows this, then the voter sins mortally.
A Catholic in a state of mortal sin cannot receive Communion, but must receive confession and do penance to get out of the state of mortal sin. This is of course exactly what Fr. Newman said:
“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,” Newman wrote.
Father Newman is thus unarguably right.
To the extent that his diocese “rejected” that view (which rejection, as noted above, is very vague; but see UPDATE), his diocese, currently serving without a bishop, is wrong. Any diocesan official or bishop can equivocate until the cows come home. Any and all such statements do nothing to change objective, eternal truth.
Translation. People have a right to make up their own minds; the church teaching on abortion, that it “is gravely contrary to the moral law,” stands unchanged.