Catholic Priest Says Backers of Pro-Abortion Obama Should Attend Confession

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 30, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Priest Says Backers of Pro-Abortion Obama Should Attend Confession

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 30
, 2008

Modesto, CA ( — A Catholic priest in California has drawn international headlines with his statement that Catholic voters who backed pro-abortion presidential candidate Barack Obama should attend confession. The Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Modesto, says voting for Obama was sinful.

Reverend Illo says his parishioners who backed Obama should attend confession because backing a candidate who supports the kind of unlimited abortions that have resulted in the deaths of 50 million unborn children are out of step with the Church.

“If you are one of the 54 percent of Catholics who voted for a pro-abortion candidate, you were clear on his position and you knew the gravity of the question, I urge you to go to confession before receiving communion. Don’t risk losing your state of grace by receiving sacrilegiously,” Illo wrote in a letter.

He sent the letter to the more than 15,000 people who are members of his parish church in the Stockton diocese.

The Modesto Bee newspaper reports Illo also made the statement in a recent homily.

Rev. Stephen Blaire, bishop of the Stockton diocese, responded to the letter in an interview with the Associated Press and said Illo is wrong to ask Catholics to divulge how they voted or to repent for supporting Obama.

“There were probably many priests, and I suspect many bishops, who voted for Obama," he said.

Blaire said confession would only be appropriate if a Catholic voter backed Obama specifically because of his pro-abortion position, pointing to documents saying voters could back Obama because of other political issues.

"Our position on pro-life is very important, but there are other issues," Blaire said. "No one candidate reflects everything that we stand for. I’m sure that most Catholics who voted were voting on economic issues."

However, leading Catholics have said there is no reason that could trump abortion to justify voting for Obama.

Illo told the Bee that the response to his call for confession has been supportive.

"I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails and phone calls. It’s about 12-to-1 in favor of what I said. One person has left the parish. But I got all of these other positive things," he said.

Illo’s letter comes after the Rev. Jay Scott Newman, a South Carolina priest, told members of his church who supported Obama that they should voluntarily refrain from receiving communion.

Newman said backing a pro-abortion candidate puts them out of step with Catholic pro-life teachings.

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