Mike asked:

I was listening to another podcast and heard about Father Jim Heft and his advice on how Catholics should approach the elections coming up. He mentioned that the bishops aren’t trying to tell us how to vote. Lately a couple statements were made by priests and one in particular a Father Michael Pfleger of Saint Sabina’s parish slammed Hillary Clinton as a privileged white woman in Chicago. This priest was later disciplined by Cardinal George of the Chicago Diocese and had the father promise not to endorse candidates or speak out like he did before. What is the basis for priests being told to stay out of politics?


Mike Hayes replied:

"The Code of Canon Law ... strictly prohibits priests from having an active role in political parties ... It doesn’t mean that they can’t have an active role in political life. They can vote ... They are not to speak publicly or to endorse any political candidate."


Fr. Dave Dwyer replied:

"...priests may not run for office. They may not hold a political position. How that fairly ambiguous canon is interpreted in various countries and various political systems around the world varies greatly ... In South America ... priests and bishops are much more a part of the political regime or making changes happen ...

... In our U.S. context, usually ... the line that we tend to draw is partisan politics. Meaning endorsing a particular party, clearly one over another, endorsing a particular candidate, clearly one over another. When Pope Benedict was here in the United States he said, ‘I look forward to the Church taking a more active role in public life. Both the lay people and the priests.’ ... Yeah sometimes we want our priests to be vocal about our Catholic teaching from the pulpit. And tell us what the Church teaches so that we may form our conscience and be faithful citizens as the U.S. bishops talk about. And go into the voting booth. But usually where that crosses ... and now this is an issue of Church law but also an issue of U.S. law. That if you’ve got somebody up at the pulpit endorsing a candidate that diocese could very well lose their tax-exempt status cause that’s a violation of Church and state."


Mark's take:

If we should loose the battle over the HHS mandate, we would no longer have the 5013(c) status and then the attitude on this could change. I feel this would be a good thing! It is sad how many people call themselves "Catholic" yet voted for Obama who believes in abortion. Shocking!


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Show air date:

Name of show: #157

Guest comments by: Fr. Dave Dwyer, Mike Hayes

Question appeared in show: 7:36


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