Dear Prelates and Priests, I have a suggestion about how to deal with the election of Barack Obama. Keep still and be quiet.
Father Jay Scott Newman of St. Mary’s in Greenville, South Carolina was all over the news for suggesting that parishioners who voted for Obama needed to go to confession. In fact, Father Newman’s statement, though clunky, was not as coarse as has been reported. But, elections are politically charged events. Emotions run high. It is a time when a careless remark can wound and a nuanced statement be reduced to gibberish. I am confident that the parishioners at St. Mary’s in Greenville know what the church teaches about the evil of abortion as well as other important issues. The controversy surrounding Father Newman could have easily been avoided if he had only held his tongue.
The US hierarchy is beset by a similar problem. They spent much of their time and many paragraphs of their collective statements last week discussing the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). They seem not to have realized that they are virtually the only people discussing FOCA. It has almost no prospect of passing Congress. It was not a central part of Obama’s campaign: he did not mention it in his acceptance speech in Denver, he did not refer to it in the Democratic platform, nor did he address the topic in his debates with Sen. John McCain. The last time he referenced it appears to be in July of 2007, 18 months ago.
I am all for preaching the Gospel in season and out of season. The Master Himself instructed His apostles to do so. He did not tell them to preach the Gospel and draw out the political ramifications of a recent election. So, preach the Gospel. Period. Saying nothing is a better option than saying something embarrassing.
Michael Sean Winters