S. Carolina Catholic diocese backs warning to Obama voters

A Greenville, S.C., priest who told parishioners those who voted for President-elect Barack Obama risked 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.

The provocative letter from the Rev. Jay Scott Newman to members of St. Mary's Catholic Church has sparked controversy and yet another conversation about faith and public policy.

"Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil," Newman said in the letter posted on the Greenville church's Web site,, "and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law."

Newman said that those who did not choose the anti-abortion candidate, in this case U.S. Sen. John McCain, "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."

Calling Obama "the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate," Newman went on to say Catholics must pray for the newly elected chief executive.

"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," Newman said in the letter.

St. Mary's was established in 1852 and is considered the mother church for Roman Catholics in northern South Carolina. The church has 7,500 members and operates a parish school for 300 students.

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.

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