According to the Associated Press, a Greenville, SC priest, Jay Scott Newman, sent a letter around to his parishioners, telling them that they must do penance before receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama. Newman, obviously forgetting Kang's short-lived campaign slogan "Abortions for all!" (which he and his campaign team quickly changed to "Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!") claims that Obama is "the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president." He went on to say,
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. Persons in this condition 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.
What The Common Man has learned, however, is that while Newman is being terribly narrow-minded and dead wrong about the tenor of an Obama administration and the relative merits of an Obama presidency versus a McCain one (certainly a vote for John McCain would have violated one or several Catholic tenets), he is an outlier within the church. Already, his own diocese has contradicted the priest, saying "Father Newman's statements do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church's teachings. Any comments or statements to the contrary are repudiated." Indeed, whenever a priest goes off the reservation and says something ridiculous, it seems as though it gets picked up in the mainstream press. Meanwhile, obscure protestant bigots around the country are allowed to say what they will without media attention.
The Common Man doesn't know where the fascination with Catholocism and the Catholic priesthood has come from, and why the media's obsession with the laity is largely focused on Catholics. Perhaps it has roots in a 19th and early 20th Century anti-immigrant backlash that mythologized the Pope and popularized the idea that Catholics were somehow subserviant to the whims of the pontiff, like the orders of a Catholic George III. Or maybe it's that Catholics, for all their success in this country, are still a minority (though a growing and not a very marginalized one). Or maybe it's the Latin. Or the incense. Or the pretty robes. It doesn't matter. The Common Man doesn't necessarily need the media's hyper-focus on Catholocism to be rectified (because all powerful organizations should be watched and questioned), but wishes that others were subject to the same level of scrutiny.
Meanwhile, American bishops have indeed been active in drumming up support for the anti-abortion movement. Last Tuesday, according to the AP, "the nation's Catholic bishops vowed...to forcefully confront the Obama administration over its support for abortion rights." The Common Man hopes they do, and that their efforts bring about some kind of consensus between them and Barack Obama. Indeed, while reasonable people can and do disagree on the issue of abortion, surely all can agree that it would be better for everyone involved if there were fewer of them. And perhaps by working together, instead of throwing around heated rhetoric, these disparate groups can come together to promote more comprehensive and useful sexual education and to better educate parents on how to keep their children from having unplanned pregnancies. Anyway, that's what the Obama-supporting The Common Man is going to pray for before he takes Communion on Sunday.