Priest seeks to explain his letter on voting for Obama

Modesto BeeDecember 1, 2008 

The Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Modesto, Calif., wants to make this clear: He never told his parishioners that if they voted for Barack Obama, they needed to go to confession.

He interrupted his homily on the first Sunday in Advent to clarify his position.

He began by saying, "All of life is an advent -- preparing for the second coming of Christ. ... Christmas is about a baby born. At this point, the first Sunday in Advent, Mary's child, Jesus, is still in the womb."

Then he switched gears and said, "I have to speak to the attention my little letter to you has gotten."

In that letter, dated Nov. 21, Illo told the parish's estimated 15,000 members that they risked their "state of grace" if they received communion without having attended confession — but only if they voted for Obama knowing his position on abortion.

The letter read, in part, "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."

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