This will be short, because I think I'm coming down with something and I hope I didn't miss a dairy on this. (I searched for one, really.)
The administrator of the Diocese of Charleston issued a written... well I'm calling it a smack-down but the monsignor said he "repudiated"... the comments of Father Jay Scott Newman of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville after he told parishioners their souls would be in jeopardy if they voted for Obama and then took communion without first confessing their sin.
I am positively gleeful at this, because my family attended that church and the school for 11 years, and I can't stand that money-loving jerk of a priest. The Monsignor in his statement even asked us to pray for President-Elect Obama and all our elected officials and noted -- horror of horrors -- that we are all free to make up our own minds about what is right and wrong and what needs to be confessed and even when we take communion! (Go, Monsignor!)
Here's the written statement from Monsignor Martin Laughlin, administrator of the Diocese of Charleston. (UPDATE: From the comments and an e-mail I'm told there is no current Bishop of Charleston. Last one resigned and a new one hasn't been appointed yet. So I guess the monsignor's as good as it gets right now.) I wish it was the Bishop issuing the smack-down, but I'll take this:
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
I'm tempted to go to mass this Sunday just to see the look on Newman's face! I bet he was furious. (And I haven't been to mass in years and I'm not Catholic.)
Just so we all know what kind of so-called priest we're dealing with, here's my comment from yesterday's diary:
We attended this church for years and Newman is a complete ass. And one who dearly loves money more than any priest I've ever met.
He used to send out full-color brochures with numerous pie charts explaining how little everyone was giving to the church. I think we even got one at Christmas.
He spent a fortune renovating the old church and now wants more than anything else to build a cathedral in downtown Greenville, so he can have an even bigger audience and parish.
I remember sitting in a pew at St. Mary's the Sunday after Susan Smith killed her two little boys in another South Carolina town, and I have two children.
It was horrendous, trying to make some sense of that.
I remember sitting in church, crying through the sermon, first struggling so hard to find answers and then, in disbelief and fury, as the priest's topic for the day was people not giving enough money to the church.
I'd have to look up the dates when he came and when Susan Smith killed her boys to know for sure it was Newman, but I really think it was. I kept thinking he couldn't surprise me anymore, but he managed with that.
One of his more recent moves was forcing a nun out who'd been principal for 18 years or so of a tough, but excellent elementary and middle school both my children attended. We had kids there for 11 years.
He came along and wanted to impose either a minimum donation or a higher minimum donation for people getting the parishioner discount at the school.
Sister refused, and by the end of the year, she was gone. And he got what he wanted. He refused to live in the existing parish and convinced a wealthy parishioner to "donate" the use of a home in a wealthy neighborhood for his use. He eats regularly in the finest restaurants in town, and he gets a new car every year. And he's outraged by the large Hispanic population at St. Mary's because they come from countries where the government supports the Catholic church. So they're not used to and many don't donate money to the parish. (The worst sin of all. Much worse than voting the wrong way, I assure you.)
I'm telling you, if there isn't a way to make money out of this move, I'll be amazed.
I feel moved to add, he's also highly ambitious. Gosh, I hope this messes up those plans of his to move up.
The local media is reporting it, but the local paper doesn't have a comment from Newman yet.