Greenville, SC (LifeNews.com) -- A Catholic priest in South Carolina has told members of his church who supported Barack Obama that they should voluntarily refrain from receiving communion. The Rev. Jay Scott Newman says they should not take part in the sacrament because they backed a strong abortion advocate for president.
Newman said Thursday that Catholic Church policies don't allow him to refuse to administer communion so he hopes the parishioners at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville will decline on their own.
He said his members should refrain from participating until they do penance for backing “the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president.”
Newman told the Greenville News on Wednesday that he will continue preaching on the "intrinsic and grave evil of abortion" and called Obama and Joe Biden's abortion support a "divisive issue" with a "moral dimension."
The priest posted a letter on the church web site saying that "voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."
Catholics who do not ask for forgiveness before receiving communion "eat and drink their own condemnation," Newman writes and cites a passage from I Corinthians in the Bible which talks about recognizing Christ before participating.
Newman told the newspaper that members of his church have been very supportive and claims the reaction has been favorable by a nine to one margin.
Stephen Gajdosik, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, told the newspaper that Newman's actions are within Catholic Church guidelines. he said local priests can best determine how to encourage their member's relationship with God.
Newman told the News that abortion is a more important issue than other political subjects such as health care, education or Iraq because it involves life and death issues and undermines a cultural respect for life.
The priest's admonition comes at a time when the nation's Catholic bishops concluded an abortion discussion at their annual meeting and urged Barack Obama not to promote abortion further.