Modesto priest still drawing fire over Obama letter

CNN called Bishop Stephen Blaire of the Stockton Diocese, requesting an interview Monday. St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Modesto had all four of its receptionists answering calls throughout the day. The church even had to add a special link to its Web site to accommodate the surge of e-mail comments.

The attention stems from a Nov. 21 letter from the church's pastor, the Rev. Joseph Illo, to his parishioners that referred to President-elect Barack Obama's stance on abortion.

Illo advised congregants that if they were "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."

According to exit polls, 54 percent of Catholics nationwide voted Nov. 4 for Obama.

Illo's letter generated news coverage and reaction across the nation over the weekend.

Blaire released a statement Monday afternoon in response to media questions that offered Illo little support.

Parishioners said his stance had outraged them.

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