Inconvenient Truths

Catholics United, a left-wing advocacy group, has been calling on our bishops and priests to pledge to “keep politics out of our pulpits.” Catholic rectories and chanceries are hardly teeming with advocates of “far-right political causes,” as Catholics United has suggested, but for groups like Catholics United, who desperately want to see President Obama reelected, the public consequences of the Catholic faith are once again proving politically inconvenient.

Every time a priest or bishop condemns the grave and intrinsic evil of abortion—which has claimed almost 5 million innocent lives in this country since Barack Obama took office—Catholics in the pews can’t but be reminded of President Obama’s proud devotion to the abortion license. He campaigns on it. He brags about it. He wants you to vote for him because of it.

Every time a priest or bishop preaches the truth about marriage and the family, Catholics in the pews can’t but be reminded of President Obama’s new-found enthusiasm for gay “marriage” and his party’s promise to foist it on the American people. He’s campaigned on it. He boasts about it. He hopes you’ll vote for him because of it.

Every time a priest or bishop mentions Americans face an unprecedented threat to religious freedom from our own government, Catholics in the pews can’t but recall that, while his opponent has promised to end the government’s attack on our first freedom, President Obama continues to lead the assault. He’s brought in Sandra Fluke to help him campaign on it. He blasts his opponents for opposing him. And he wants you to vote for him because of it.

President Obama has proudly promoted positions and enacted policies that are an affront, not just to Catholic beliefs, but to basic justice and constitutional rights. Given that many of the things the Catholic faith has to say about public life cast the President’s policies in an unfavorable light (to say the least), Catholics United has decided that it’s probably best if Catholic bishops and priests to just keep mum.

Hence Catholics United’s “Pledge to Keep Politics out of Our Pulpits.” The Pledge itself includes a promise to avoid, “Overt partisan activity.” Overt partisan activity includes, “Implicitly or explicitly tying issues to candidates which serves to rank them and/or solicit a vote for or against them.” Moreover, any priest or bishop who even “implicitly” ties issues to a candidate in order to rank them, Catholics United warns, is guilty of jeopardizing the Church’s tax exempt status.

(It was delightfully ironic this past week when an event being promoted by Catholics United was shut down by the Diocese of Arlington in Virginia for violating the diocesan policies regarding political events on Church property.)

Not surprisingly, Catholics United’s pledge drive doesn’t seem to have gone too well. The most notable response came from the Diocese of Orlando, where diocesan officials recommended that pastors ignore the pledge as it was deemed, “An attempt to silence pastors on issues that are of concern to the Church this election season and contrary to the agenda of Catholics United.” Which, of course, is exactly what the Catholics United pledge is.

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI observed that faith is always a deeply personal thing.  But he also pointed out that, as personal as the Catholic faith is, it is never truly private. Faith always involves a community—the Church, first and foremost. To relegate faith to the private sphere contradicts the very nature of faith. For Catholics, faith always has public consequences.

Hearing the truths of the faith — public consequences and all — preached from the pulpit evidently makes the folks at Catholics United, and others like them, deeply uncomfortable. That’s unsurprising given Catholics United dedication to politicians who champion intrinsic evils as fundamental rights. It would be a shame if, in their rush to blame pastoral partisanship, they were to miss the tell-tale signs of another source of discomfort: a troubled conscience.

Stephen P. White is a fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC and coordinator of the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society. The views expressed here are his own.

  • David

    Catholics United does good work. All they said is don’t be political. Preach what you want, but don’t force your political beliefs about it. Naturally, this website hates it.


    it’s hard for me to listen to i’m sure to those who are pious catholics toss around words such as murderer ,sinners and fornicators to label their fellow catholics and non- catholics. I have tried to read and study and pray to find answers to my questions. I wish OUR LORD would grant me some direct REVEALATION but HE hasn’t. so I turned to the HOLY BIBLE and the CHURCH’S TEACHINGS. I came to the conclusion that GOD gave me the gift of free will which enables me to seek truth, no matter where it might lead me. To God the source of all truth. To love my fellow man.Not to judge lest I am judged.TO cast not the first stone because it hurts me as well as my fellow man.

  • Evilpa

    I don’t understand why Catholics United is allowed to use Catholic in its’ name. They stand against most of our basic beliefs. They should be shut down, just like Catholic politicians who don’t follow the doctrine should be denied communion and priests & nuns who don’t follow the doctrine should be censored. I don’t understand why this is allowed to happen, political correctness run amok and progressives have no place in church.

    • tlb6432

      ‘They stand against most of our basic beliefs.’.. what are those? from the above article it seems they stand for our Catholic views and beliefs..

      • Paul Sadek

        Ah, didn’t read the piece, did you, tlb6432?

      • paul

        namely, they stand for treating gays and lesbians with dignity and respect. It makes it hard for this site to spread their anti-gay prejudice around.

        • Connor McGinnis

          Would you care to back that statement up with facts, or do blind assertions suit you better?

        • Laura

          Telling someone everything they do is great, ignoring the most basic tenents of the faith is not the same as treating someone with respect, FYI.

    • Paul

      I don’t understand why “CatholicVote” is allowed to use Catholic in it’s name either. That’s the thing about freedom. It means freedom for everyone, even those that you disagree with.

      • FrankW

        It might have something to do with the fact that the Catholic Church is not a democracy. We don’t get to vote on our beliefs, and Church teachings are not based on opinion polls of the flock.
        The teaching magisterium of the Church sets rules, based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, passed on to the apostles and their successors. We believe in Christ’s promise that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against His church.
        You don’t like that? Hey, you are FREE to leave. There are plenty of good Christian people out there who disagree with Catholic Church teachings on various issues; they’re called Protestants.
        I have more respect for those who are honest enough to acknowledge their disagreements with the Church and leave it for a Protestant Church than I do for those who openly dissent from Church teaching and yet insist on claiming themselves as Catholics.

    • Bethany

      I became Catholic because Protestant churches were too inconsistent with whatever leadership believed. We have the Catechism. THAT’S what we believe! So Catholics United needs to open it up and read it! Anyone who thinks otherwise is not a knowledgeable Catholic but only one who wants the same thing as Protestants– to determine their own set of beliefs without any Authority saying they are wrong! Great title to this article-“inconvenient truths”!

    • Paul Sadek

      It’s the old story of, “I can call myself a rocket scientist if I want to, but that doesn’t make me one.” Our bishops have every right and duty to say, “This group is not affiliated in any way with the Catholic Church”…but there really is nothing which can legally stop them from misleadingly using the word “Catholic” in their name.

    • kgbla

      If you are going to throw out those who don’t strictly follow the doctrine, you will loose most of your members.



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