In a hard-hitting series of essays currently being released in preparation for the midterm elections, Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, takes aim at the self-censorship that Churches and Church-related institutions engage in when it comes to speaking up about politics and elections. Called "Politics and the Pulpit," the series can be found at PriestsForLife.org/columns.
One of the policy memos publicized from a Catholic diocese in a recent election cycle stated the following:
"Indeed, it is the church’s right and obligation to make its teachings on moral ideas known, as long as these teachings do not run afoul of the rules on political activity."
In response, Fr. Frank said the following:
"Look at what is being said here. 'Rules on political activity,' rules which originated with Lyndon B. Johnson in 1954, and are vague and very likely unconstitutional in the first place, cancel out both the right and duty of the Church to carry out her teaching mission received from Jesus Christ, the Son of God, over 2000 years ago. Are we really going to start balancing human rules with Divine commands? This is offensive and absurd, especially given the context in which the Church is fighting right now to preserve her religious freedom against a hostile Administration. The best way to preserve our religious freedom is to start exercising it.
"An obvious question arises here. Unless we are to say that Churches have no freedom to teach on issues that also happen to correspond to political debates, how are they protected from the accusation of being 'partisan' simply because the position of the organization, or the teaching of the Church or the Gospel, corresponds to the position that one particular political party or candidate has, and is diametrically opposed to that of their opposing party or candidate? The Church opposes abortion and stands up for the rights of the unborn. The Republican Party platform takes a similar position. The Democratic Party platform, on the other hand, supports abortion as a right. So now, is the Church's pro-life position partisan, and therefore illegal to assert? That would be both absurd and intolerable, and yet that is what some expressions of Church policy in our country would lead us to conclude."
More commentary and practical action steps for preparation for the elections can be found at www.PoliticalResponsibility.com. A nationwide election novena begins this Tuesday, September 2, and runs through Election Day, November 4. Organizations and Churches can also find practical guidance through the Vote Pro-life Coalition that Priests for Life has established. See www.VoteProLifeCoalition.com.
Priests for Life is the nation's largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org.