Guest Opinion: Fr. Jay Scott Newman in the Lion's Den
As America descends further into decadence and decline, the lines will be drawn between the forces of darkness and the forces of light.
Offering patriotic support and prayers for the president-elect, but also lamenting his radical pro-abortion policy, Father Newman told his parishioners:"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 the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law." He concluded that, if they voted for Obama, they ought to go to confession before coming to Communion.
Perhaps Father Newman's statement could have been more nuanced. He could have clarified the matter by adding that, for it to be a serious sin, the Catholic needed to be fully knowledgeable about the Catholic Church's teaching on abortion and Senator Obama's voting record on the issue. However, this was not a pontifical statement written for the instruction of all Catholics in America; it was a bulletin column in a parish where there has been steady and consistent catechesis on the whole range of Catholic issues, including abortion.
By Monday, the local newspaper picked up the story. Father Newman was careful to ask for written questions and gave written replies, making it very clear that he could not and would not deny Communion to anyone. Nevertheless, by Wednesday the Associated Press ran the story with the headline, "SC priest: No Communion for Obama supporters." Most of the major news outlets picked up the story, and the parish was swamped with responses from across America. In the face of these distortions, Father Newman produced two documents that clarified matters.
By Friday, the Diocese of Charleston issued a statement that was taken badly by supporters of Father Newman, and over the weekend rumors ran riot about protests planned for our parish by busloads of Obama supporters. When the parish Web site crashed due to the number of visitors, parishioners concluded that the diocese had gagged Father Newman and pulled the plug on his site. (Coincidentally, my own Web site was down for servicing on the same Saturday, and before long whispers went around that I had also been gagged by the diocese and had my site pulled. None of it was true.)
What is true is that Father Newman received more than 5,000 e-mails within a few days. When the parish webmaster finally removed Father Newman's e-mail address from the Web site for his own protection and peace, e-mailers contacted me instead. I received nearly 500 replies. What interests me about the feedback from the fracas is what it says about American Catholics and American culture generally.
The mail we received can be put into four categories: Loyal, Lame, Defiant, and Demonic.
Addressing the worst, first: A small number of e-mails were spitting with irrational rage, profanity, and vulgarity. We were called pedophiles, rapists, and insane perverts. Some went on to blaspheme in the most extreme terms against the Holy Father, the Blessed Virgin, and anything sacred they could think of. These e-mails were so brimming with brimstone that they were obviously from a demented or demonized person. These I deleted with a prayer for protection and deliverance.
Those e-mails I classified as "defiant" were angry and vociferous. We were idiots and bigots. Didn't we know it was priests like us who drive people away from the Church? The writers rarely defended Obama but usually attacked Bush and McCain, assuming that Father Newman and I are ardent Republicans. The usual theme was that poverty and war were as bad as abortion, and why did we never discuss these other matters? The Catholic Church was attacked and smeared, and in most cases the writer finally revealed that he was a lapsed Catholic.
The third category I call "lame." These e-mails had little to do with Father Newman's original bulletin column, but were simply emotional responses to the misleading AP headline. They were mostly sentimental, uninformed, and rambling. Some accused us of being nasty, judgmental, and intolerant. Others accused us of hating animals and the environment and not believing in global warming. And still others worried that we were fomenting racial hatred and hoped we would mend our ways. They were mostly from souls with a particular agenda who would direct their sad anger and fear toward anyone who grabbed their attention in a news headline.
The fourth category of e-mail was from loyal supporters. Heartening e-mails from all around the country poured in expressing solidarity, support, and ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Politics & Policy News
- E.W. Jackson Wins Nomination as Republican Candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
- News to ruin your morning: IRS official who targeted conservatives for audit now oversees your Obamacare compliance
- Culture of Corruption, Obama pays Sarah Ingram extra for her harassment of conservatives
- Culture of Corruption: Why Obama's misuse of Marines is wrong
- Rubio: Obama's intimidation of tea party groups 'not in isolation'
- Editorial: Is the Scandal Ridden Obama Administration Becoming a House of Cards?
- Obama asks for more money, Marines to protect embassies
- President stands ground against Republican critics
- Eric Holder says he will investigate the IRS for Obama
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?