Saturday, November 15, 2008

Diocese of Charleston on Fr Newman's Comments

THE DIOCESE OF CHARLESTON
Statement of Monsignor Martin T. Laughlin
Administrator of the Diocese of Charleston

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.

Thanks be to God.

3 comments:

Will Reaves said...

While I agree with the Adminstrator that Newman's original ban is overkill, I find the following:

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.

to be rank sophistry. The entire question is what it means to have "formed one's conscience well"--obviously, there are whole groups of people who are regularly denied communion (or would be if their sins were known). A murderer or (let us be blunt) an abortionist, who presented himself for communion, and had not previous confessed and repented of his sin, and in fact brazenly declared that no sin was committed, should be denied communion without reservation, however much he finds himself to have a well-formed conscience.

(Likewise, one of the aggravating statements I've gotten from Protestants is "All that matters is we love Jesus" as a catch-all rebuke to the "works" of Catholicism, such as the sacraments or the mass or even believing the creed. Not only does it beg the question of what "loving Jesus" entails, said Protestants fail to realize the same phrase, used with as little sense of context, can be used to justify practically anything, and is a close cousin to the "All that matters is that we are nice people" delivered by those who don't think they need Christ. Pet peeve of mine.)

Where Fr. Newman overreaches is in failing to distinguish between those who support abortion and those who support Obama despite the issue of abortion, like yourself. But, again being blunt, I would prefer a world with Fr. Newman's errors to the errors for Archbishop Wuerl, who still declines to refuse communion to ardently pro-choice politicians. In your previous post you thanked "God for those bishops willing to lovingly rebuke Catholic politicians who are ignorant of the Church's teaching on abortion." Not only is this an odd way to phrase the issue (politicians, by this point, cannot be ignorant but only willfully blind, at best, of church teaching), but there are far too many bishops, including in far too important positions, who flagrantly refuse to do this. Newman is one priest, in one parish, and was promptly quashed. The bishops who downplay church teaching on abortion, or betray it outright, are numerous, and rarely corrected--in part because they are the authority that should be issuing the corrections. How are these problems remotely comparable?

Anonymous said...

There is a great article about Father Newman's comments, that is from a solid Catholic source- Not the AP.
go to: catholicculture.org
Article is at the top today-
"Shameful Betrayal of a Couragous Pastor"

Scott Lyons said...

Thank you, anon (you know, you can use your real name here). I did read Fr. Newman's original message in their bulletin as it was sent to me by a parishioner from St Mary's who is gracious enough to still read my blog (I think - Christian? You still there?).

I was not aware of or able to get the clarification, before the Diocese issued its letter.

After the clarification, it sounds to me that Fr. Newman's statement was appropriate, but without it, it was in error. Look at Dr. Mirus's blog entry "No Communion for Obama Supporters?" also from catholicculture.org. He makes the same point I was attempting to make - that for Fr. Newman to suggest that anyone who voted for Obama needed to seek reconciliation before presenting themselves for holy Communion is in error - though he himself could not have, in faith, voted for Obama.