Should A Priest Comment on Politics?

confusedMy blog posts criticizing Trump have elicited some pretty nasty emails from Trump supporters blaming me for being a Sanders supporting Communist, Marxist and blaming me for never condemning Clinton, Nancy Pelosi or Biden.

Anybody who has read this blog with any frequency at all will know that I’ve thrown plenty of stones at that gang too and have said very clearly that a Catholic cannot vote for a candidate or party that supports abortion.

But let us put that on one side and ask whether a priest should be involved in politics.

The Church is clear that a priest is not supposed to run for political office. We are also advised not to tell our people who to vote for. Nor are we supposed to actively campaign, endorse or publicly support particular candidates or parties.

But should we comment on politics? Maybe we shouldn’t get involved in politics, but we can certainly comment on morality. Indeed it is our duty to comment on the morality or immorality of certain issues.

If a party or candidate supports abortion, genocide or euthanasia we must speak out about it. If a candidate or party supports indiscriminate deportation or incarceration we should speak out about it. If a party or candidate supports torture, killing of innocent civilians and indiscriminate bombing we should speak out about it. If a candidate or party supports the widespread and indiscriminate use of capital punishment we should speak out about it. If a candidate or party supports the oppression of the poor, an unfair wage and destruction of the family we should speak out about it. If a candidate or party supports the breakdown of marriage, sexual immorality and moral corruption of the young we should speak out about it.

What I find most disturbing about the American political scene are the Catholics who are very happy for their priest to speak out about their pet issues but get upset if he addresses some other issue about which they take a view that opposes church teaching.

So a liberal will support a priest who argues against capital punishment, torture and war, and is for a living wage for workers, a fair system of amnesty for immigrants and a compassionate and sensible program for welcoming refugees, but should that priest be opposed to a candidate who is pro abortion, same sex marriage, euthanasia, divorce, contraception and co habitation he is told to stop being “political.”

Likewise a conservative American Catholic will applaud a Catholic priest who takes a strong pro-life stance, speaks out against same sex marriage, contraception, euthanasia and co habitation but if that priest argues that universal health care should be part of a civilized society, thinks government funded higher education is a good idea, supports a living wage, thinks compassionate and sensible amnesty programs for immigrants is a Christian principle and is against war, torture and indiscriminate bombing he is told to stop being “political.”

During this election cycle I have tried to take the compassionate, sensible, Catholic and humane position on all the issues and lament the fact that there does not seem to be a candidate or political party that takes a truly Catholic position.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers and I’m happy to admit when I’m wrong, but commenting on the morality of issues is something a priest is called to. When there is evil in the world he is called to exercise a prophetic ministry.

This is not being “political” it is being human. It is being Catholic.

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