Thursday, May 16, 2013

Politics and the pulpit

Regarding politics, the place of pastors, including the Pope, is to preach on its goals, its ends: the golden rule (the libertarian non-aggression principle: no person or government may initiate force against another), don't be selfish (be just, share), etc. Any one political party or program, the means to those good ends, has no place in the pulpit. (A priest shouldn’t tell his parishioners which party or candidate to vote for.) Lots of well-meaning Christians’ economics (democratic socialism), Catholic and mainline alike, is naïve about how the market works, causing more problems. By the way, I have brother trads who think I’m as liberal as the mainline because I believe in religious freedom and the free market, instead of buying into Catholic churchmen’s monarchism (a trad thing), democratic socialism or distributism (third-wayism). The Catholic Church is apolitical: monarchy, dictatorship, republic, as long as Catholics are free, it’s all good.


  1. "A priest shouldn’t tell his parishioners which party or candidate to vote for."

    Reminds me of a funny scene in 1961's "Divorzio all'italiana", in which the Sicilian priest explains that, while he would not presume to tell his parishioners which party to choose, they should certainly vote for a party that is "of the people, and therefore Democratic", and one that "respects our Christian values... a party both Democratic and Christian".

  2. "A priest shouldn’t tell his parishioners which party or candidate to vote for."

    I really don't see why not, except as a matter of "prudential judgment." After all, if, ex hypothesi, there were a party whose candidates were running on the basis of, say, repealing the first amendment or, if that seems too "fantastic," declaring the Catholic Church a "hate group" or, say, passing a law that states that any attempt on the part of a religious group to "penalize" (or "bring into public disrepute") an officeholder for his or her votes would result in that group forfeiting its tax-exempt status, then I think that the Catholic Church would be morally justified in declaring that "Candidate AB supports these measures; s/he is an enemy of the Catholic Church and Faith; and therefore all Catholics are forbidden to vote for that person under penalty of sin." And, to be completely honest, ever since 1973 or 1974 I have thought that the Church ought to do, or have done, just that in the cases of all "Catholic and 'pro-choice'" politicians: warned them that they have become, in effect if not intention, foes of Christ and his Church, and then, if unrepentant, publicly excommunicated them. To go on to forbid Catholics to vote for such might cost the Church its tax-exempt status, but IIRC the LBJ-era regulation that forbids churches from endorsing had never been tested in the courts, or at least in SCOTUS, and, in any case, when did God reconsider his condemnation of worshipping "golden calves?"

  3. You raise an interesting question that I would like to extend hopefully not to a histrionic level. We have a secular society, not a religious society even under the best of circumstances, and Catholic bishops have no ecclesiastical police to enforce their "mandates" upon the Catholic flock with coercion. Nonetheless, I wonder what exactly are the limits of a Catholic Ordinary over his flock, if there are any limits, even though me may not have any coercive temporal authority over his flock? I am not a Canon lawyer so I don't know what the CCI says. I am guessing that "theoretically" there are no actual limits provided that the Ordinary's demands upon us are not heterodox, schismatic, etc.


Leave comment