A California pastor told his parishioners to attend confessional if they had voted for President-elect Barack Obama because of his stance on abortion, the McClatchy Tribune reported.

The Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Modesto, Calif., said voting for a pro-choice candidate amounted to a punishable sin.

"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 dated Nov. 21.

Illo sent the letter to more than 15,000 members of his parish, one of 34 parishes in the Stockton diocese.

Illo also delivered this message in a homily, the Modesto Bee reported.

But not all priest agree with Illo's point of view.

Rev. Stephen Blaire, bishop of the Stockton diocese, said Catholics don't need to confess if they voted for Obama and should not be compelled to reveal their voting choice by their priest, the Associated Press reported.

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

Many religious leaders warned voters against Obama during the campaign because of his stance on abortion. Earlier this month, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops cautioned Obama against enacting an "evil law" that would deregulate the "abortion industry", saying it would alienate millions of Americans and sow disunity, Agence France Presse reported.

 Wire services contributed to this report.