Fr. Frank Pavone looks at the Church’s role in politics in this morning’s Washington Post:
The church is called to be an equal opportunity critic. She must have the freedom to challenge all, across political lines, with the Gospel call to repentance. The institutional church in the United States has at times been called “the Democrats at prayer,” because of so many alliances and loyalties forged through the provision of social programs. At the same time, I have heard – and myself received – criticism of the church being too Republican, as we advance aspects of the Gospel message that in fact help Republican candidates.
But the fact is that the platform of the church’s teaching and mission cannot be and must not be that of any political party. It is, rather, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not a matter of whether the church endorses a political party or movement. It is, rather, whether the party or movement endorses the church’s message and mission. A candidate or party that embraces some aspect of the church’s message or mission will benefit – at least in the eyes of Catholics who are committed to their faith – when the church, as she must, advances that aspect of her message or mission.
The way to evaluate whether, for her part, the church is being faithful to the balance and independence she is called to have, is rather simple, and it’s a litmus test I use as I preach the anti-abortion message and help other priests do the same, including during election years. I ask this simple question: If today, opposing candidates or parties swapped their positions on abortion, would any aspect of our message change? Indeed, our message will not change if it is rooted in fidelity to the Gospel. Whether that message helps or hurts a candidate, party, or political movement won’t be the church’s fault; it will be theirs.