Temper Temper

I’ve had a very angry email from a reader (who does not have the courage to even give his name) scolding me for supporting particular presidential candidates by name. I was told as a priest that I am not allowed to do this. Furthermore, I am apparently violating tax rules and using my non-profit status to promote particluar candidates, and if I don’t change my ways he’s going to tattle tale to the IRS and he’s even going to write to my bishop!

I totally accept the criticism. I was wrong, and from now on I will not voice my enthusiasm for Sarah Palin as a politician, nor will I criticize Barack Obama or Joe Biden by name. Instead I will simply outline the issues for my readers so that they can make the choice that is most spiritually sound, and most consistent with the Catholic faith.

So let’s be absolutely clear: I believe that Catholics should not vote for a person who votes for partial birth abortion or supports abortion in any way. They should not vote for a party that supports abortion formally on their platform. Especially Catholics should find it abhorrent to vote for a person who proclaims himself to be a Catholic, yet publicly dissents from the Church’s teaching on the matter of abortion.

On the other hand, Catholics should find it easy to vote for politicians who are not only pro life, but who live it out by having a large family. If, for instance there were a politician who had a baby with Downs Syndrome and did not have an abortion, that would be a good example of a pro life person. If their running mate adopted a baby from Mother Teresa’s orphanage–a baby with a severe cleft palate–that also would be a good example of a pro life candidate.

Please note: I am not supporting any particular candidates by name. I am simply outlining the principles of Catholic teaching and giving one or two clear examples for the sake of my readers…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05377022967438445082 veritas2002

    I hope that priest who scolded you will not be voting for a pro-abortion presidential candidate. But knowing some of our priests, nothing would surprise me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15601999674627499661 Thai

    Because you are a Catholic priest, you should not have an opinion? Are we living in America or in communist China and Vietnam?As a reader, don’t I have a brain to think for myself even when I know that you are a bit excited about a viable option for voting this time? I don’t like it one bit when people think they can think for me. We are given a freedom to choose one option over others. Thus, we need to know what those options are. This is the richness of modern America. There are zillion sites that you can visit for a fuller view of an issue.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I didn’t say it was a fellow priest who scolded me. I don’t know who it was.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10273209983337706262 Volpius Leonius

    You weren’t supporting them as a priest though were you Father just as a blogger and American citizen right? ;)I didn’t realise that when you become a Catholic Priest you lose your rights as an American, surely that is wrong?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17879273326034884153 Kathy

    I’m sorry you have to be so careful in your blogging now Father. I notice our local Catholic radio station now has to announce over and over again that “we’re not endorsing any political candidate…” The ACLU and others are out in full force to try to “catch them”.I think we all know who we can and can’t vote for this election. May God change the hearts of those Catholics who think they can vote for someone anti-life.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02645173524517798088 Amy Giglio

    The way I understand the tax code and the law on the matter is that since you are not preaching in an official capacity, such as in the ambo at Mass or teaching at the school, but rather are simply stating your personal prefernces on a personal blog you would not be in violation of any codes or laws. Therefore neither you nor your diocese or school would be subject to any repercussions. I hope I’m right becuase I’m a parish DRE and I’ve been expressing my opinions on my blog as well. I can’t remember if you have a space on your sidebar that says that the content of your blog is your own opinion and does not reflect the views of your diocese or school, but it might be good to add that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15261940312418634427 WordWench

    Amy Giglio is correct in her assessment of when political endorsement is a problem and when it isn’t. You have a right to your opinion and should express it as long as you have the disclaimer that it ‘s your PERSONAL opinion and not that of the Diocese of Charleston.

  • http://voluntaryservant.wordpress.com/ tjoseph

    That anonymous idiot sounds like a “seminar” emailer to me probably carrying out the marching orders of some anti-religious organization.Bending to the threats of these bozos is the last thing you should do.As was said above, you are not restricted from expressing your personal opinions.Someone once pointed out that there are more words in the IRS tax code than are in the Bible. IMHO, much of it is unconstitutional as well. I would ask a lawyer. Thanks for posting this.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01186202810919174492 Mac McLernon

    Though, of course, one would expect the Diocese to be most in favour of a pro-life politician, rather than one who displays a large measure of dishonesty in professing to be Catholic while ignoring the teachings of the Catholic Church…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10272966289909829346 Ben Compton

    Father, Does the fact that you are expressing these views on a personal website rather than the pulpit, along with the fact that you are not assigned to a parish, but instead are the chaplain at a school where the vast majority of your flock are below the voting age render this whole tax exempt nonsense null and void? I am truly curious about the official rules regarding ecclesial non-participation in elections.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16287885673401261090 Obpoet

    I think we all understand the sensitive nature of these issues. A priest in Charlotte recently gave a very effective homily shortly after the Nancy Pelosi charade, in which he called her out by name for her errors in her position on abortion. The priest’s reason for the homily was to uphold his responsibility to correctly teach the faithful. He did so without supporting or rejecting either Presidential candidate. Being culpable for any failure of teaching within his parish, he stated in earnest and supportive terms, “I am not going to hell for any of you!”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01469622835449220113 Dymphna

    Fr. someone has been sending variations of that same e-mail to severl Catholic blogs. I’d ignore it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01960521706457744649 Tara

    Father, your not teaching from the pulpit but your own personal blog.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12858120820470784593 Anneg

    I wonder if St Sabina’s in Chicago got the same email. That’s Fr Pfleger’s parish. Anneg in NC

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13295003916943794140 John6:54

    When you write on this blog you are not speaking for the Catholic Church you are speaking for Dwight Longenecker. When you speak at Mass or at a church function then you are speaking for the Catholic Church. Anyone with half a brain should be able to discern this difference. Since your criticizer thinks you can’t comment, I will. If you vote for Obama, you are not following Catholic teaching and I would say you are therefore not Catholic although the Church is a hospital for sinners you should strive to bring your life in line with Catholic teaching. I’m not saying you need to vote for McCain but voting for Obama is not the Catholic thing to do.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08110341406524333073 chimakuni

    *%**&&^*@*@*@(@****%*#&#(#)Duct tape being ripped off of your fingers!Of course you can promote your personal opinion, Father Longenecker. Recently one of your commentators wrote on your blog that you were not permitted to say or write the name of a person who is in line with Catholic teaching.That is probably the person who sent you an anonymous email. Are you in fact promoting evil? No . . . are you promoting Church teaching? . . . yes. Throw the duct tape away and write whatever name you wish to write…and I am still laughing about Fr Pflegler getting an email, Anneg!!! Good one!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00165820389106598455 Jennifer Zandstra

    You’re not speaking from the pulpit, you’re writing a blog!! You can say whatever you want, tax exemption status has nothing to do with it. Bunch of malarky.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01379244511897838006 Marcus Aurelius

    Here’s a *REAL* Catholic Politician!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWfIhFhelm8

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15000747762174079070 PraiseDivineMercy

    I think your emailer is probably the same person who has been spamming several Catholic blogs. I suggest you pay no mind.Jeff Miller posted on it here: http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/archives/2008/09/catholic-vote-s.php

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06400691261382506978 Jenny

    Well, Boy-Howdy, truth is ALWAYS stranger than fiction! Fr., I think the quick & numerous replies you've gotten here speak the real truth. You are not teaching ex-cathedra, you're simply informing by blog-site. Moreover, I would maintain that any Bishop who would listen to this kind of garbage would be culpable of a worse crime than yours–i.e. subverting good Catholic teaching. Not to mention that, last I knew, we still don't HAVE a Bishop in the Diocese of Charleston. I doubt our acting Administrator would take this on!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02734931487411592018 Prima

    So exactly why do you blog, Father? I know why dioceses and religious orders, etc., have blogs because it’s a good way to disseminate information. But why does an individual priest have a blog?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01504517769804159508 Dan

    It seems to me that if a biology professor can blog anti-Catholic posts in a “Science Blog” (I refer to P.Z. Myers) than a priest can blog about politics!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04446241126728692642 niggle

    Methinks there is a shade of sarcasm/satire in your post Fr.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17059270579316738956 Redtabby

    Sad to say, Father, I think you need to name names, because, as evidenced from threads of a discussion group I belong to, not all Catholics know the life-issues views of the two candidates. A close relative of mine, who watches CNN and NBC almost exclusively, did not know them. And, as so many others have said, this is your personal blog, and in America you have the same freedom of speech rights as any other American.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09736551393070317434 LoverOfLife

    First of all, no politician is pro-abortion! But some do support legality of abortion under specific circumstances to protect the life of the mother – isn’t that pro-life? Also, I consider any politician who supports war, except as a last resort in defense of life, to certainly be pro-death.Too bad the right wing protestants have infiltrated Catholic following.Pro-life means all of life, and for all God’s children. To believe otherwise is hypocritical and using Catholicism as a smoke screen to support your political agenda. Reminds me of the crusades.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01379244511897838006 Marcus Aurelius

    LoverofLife:You’re dead wrong. Chinese politicians are pro-abortion, and Republicans and plenty of supposedly pro-life politicians are happy-happy for unfettered trade with the Chinese because Tom Friedman or some such geek wrote that we’ve never had a war with a country with a McDonald’s. As if history has had long to even prove that silly hypothesis. We’re going to trade that empire into submission! Not exactly Reaganesque these days, are they? But a bridge-to-nowhere-lying-hockey mom goes through with a down syndrom pregnancy (after risking the child’s life with an Amnio) and we’re just all aflutter that she’s going to put an end to abortion. (Even though the president doesn’t have that power).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03729452309999892255 Christopher Joseph

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03729452309999892255 Christopher Joseph

    loveroflife,I am not aware of any pro-life politicians who do not support an exception for the “life” of the mother.Reminds me of the crusades as well. If only we could have secured Damascus.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03729452309999892255 Christopher Joseph

    Marcus Aurelius,You seem to be hung up on the idea that the president of the United States has no influence on abortion policy in this country, which is perfectly backwards. Replacing one of the current judicial activists on the Supreme Court with a prudent jurist may well result in the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which would immediately return the abortion debate back to the federal, state, and municipal legislatures of this country. Then the real debate would begin.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01379244511897838006 Marcus Aurelius

    Christopher,No overtly pro-life justice will be confirmed by the democratic controlled senate for that very reason. The next president will have no control over abortion. Alito and Roberts were confirmed by a Republican senate despite threats of filibuster.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08110341406524333073 chimakuni

    loveroflife – I wish your statement, “No politician is pro-abortion.” was true. Unfortunately it is not.There are many in politics that are pro-abortion. When a person says that they are pro-choice, the choice is “death of a child”.Look at the bills that the pro-abortion candidates offer up and pass.If you are not pro-LIFE, you are pro-abortion. It is time to stop playing word games.An abortion is deadly – each and every time it is practiced. It leaves in its wake, injured parents, mother AND father as well as a host of family members, many who never even got the opportunity to know the child that was killed by abortion.YES, loveroflife – there ARE pro-abortion politicians.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03729452309999892255 Christopher Joseph

    You assume that the Democrats will maintain control of the Senate from 2009-2012. And if re-elected, from 2013-2016. Quite an assumption there.It’s fair enough to oppose McCain over Iraq. However, attempting to bolster your opposition by stating that a sitting president has no influence over abortion policy (which is untrue), is unnecessary.Again, on election day, a faithful Catholic can, in good conscience, choose to “not vote for” McCain.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03729452309999892255 Christopher Joseph

    On a side note, did anyone hear former President Bill Clinton’s comments about Senator Obama on Good Morning America this morning?President Clinton is a piece of work. Senator Obama should have waited eight years before running for president. He picked the wrong Democratatic party insiders to anger, and if he doesn’t win this election, he done politically. Sort of like Britney Spears’ music career . . . a flash in the pan.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01379244511897838006 Marcus Aurelius

    Christopher,Party control of the senate changes only slowly, and even if the democrats lose the majority they could still use the filibuster.While the cost of abortion may be more horrific than unjust war in number of lives, the President has nearly unchecked power to make war and very little authority over abortion. The president has only the power to nominate supreme court justices. That power is limited to nominations. The president cannot confirm justices, nor legistlate against abortion.The failure of the Republicans to do anything about the ongoing slaughter of christians in Orissa or Iraq also bothers me. The president has plenty of power over that bit of neglected foreign policy.The republicans are also free trade to the point where they are perfectly happy to do business with an abortion gulag, China.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03729452309999892255 Christopher Joseph

    Marcus,I did not suggest, nor infer, that a sitting president has more or less power to make war than to influence abortion policy.But since you brought it up, a president is Commander in Chief, however, he cannot wage war without the support of the U.S. Congress.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01379244511897838006 Marcus Aurelius

    Not true at all Christopher. The congress no longer has much restraing on the president with regard to military intervention. The congress could, I suppose, threaten to withhold funding but it would be extremely unpopular, eg. ‘voting against the troops’. The President has undertaken several military expeditions without any congressional declaration of war.