Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Faith First! A Meditation at the End of a Political Season
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | 11-05-12 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 11/05/2012 9:45:57 PM PST by Salvation

Faith First! A Meditation at the End of a Political Season

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

Since election day has arrived I have sought to make a few observations about the struggle that many priests face as the increasingly painful political process unfolds in this country every two, and especially every four years.

I say “painful” for several reasons. On the one hand, many of us priests are excoriated if there is even a remote sense by someone in the pew that we are “getting into politics.” Perhaps we speak on the matter of abortion, against the homosexual agenda, or a so-called gay “marriage.” Perhaps we speak of the need to care for the poor, welcome immigrants, or remind the faithful that the Pope and bishops have asked us to oppose the use of the death penalty.

And though each of these are important moral topics on which the Church has either doctrinal or prudential teachings, many will scold the priest, either to his face, or behind his back, and say “Father should stay out of politics.”

It is a true fact that these issues, at least these days, do intersect substantially with the political process. But of themselves, they are moral topics, on which the Church has taught, often for centuries. But since many people are more passionate about their politics than about their faith, when they sense that the preacher has tripped the wrong political switches, they just shut down, and refuse to be taught or even yield an inch of ground.

This is increasingly frustrating for priests who wish to teach clearly a moral topics but realize that they must navigate a very complex minefield, full of tripwires of hypersensitivities and thinly veiled hostility and cynicism. Sadly, many priests take cover by speaking only in vague abstractions and generalities. Necessary teaching is not given out of fear of offending, and/or an egocentric need by the priest to be liked.

A second set of problems revolve around those who seek to bait priests, to actually draw them in to the political arena. Many ask aloud, “Why doesn’t Father make it clear that we can’t vote for candidate X?…Why are our priests not more courageous Party Y’s political platform?….Why doesn’t Father just make it clear that no loyal Catholic can belong to Political Party Z?”

And here as well is another kind of mine field, for neither party wholly lines up with Catholic teaching, across the board. Further, when priests move from issues to parties or candidates, it seems that a clear line has been crossed. While the laity are free to cross such lines, and encouraged to be active in political process, clergy instinctively know that to choose sides or candidates automatically alienates them from substantial numbers of Catholics and Americans whom they seek to influence, and reach with the Gospel message.

And once again, we simply confront the hard reality that many are more passionate about their politics than about faith, and would refuse to even listen to a priest who clearly belonged to the wrong party, or supported the wrong candidate. They would simply shut down and refuse to listen to anything the priest had to say whatsoever, no matter how deeply rooted it was in Scripture. As priests, our first goal is to preach the gospel and to not be hindered in this by worldly categories and distinctions, none of which lines up perfectly with the Gospel or the teachings of the Church.

A third area which causes special pain for priests is to strive to serve a Catholic community that is often so severely divided within itself. Politics is very pernicious, and poisonous these days in the ways that it intrudes upon the unity of the faithful, and especially the primacy of the faith.

Catholics should be in agreement with each other over issues of life and death, marriage, and homosexuality. And even if there may be different approaches about how best to care for immigrants, or the poor, Catholics while open to a diversity of solutions, must also grasp more deeply the fundamental principles of Church teaching regarding our obligations to immigrants and to the poor. Catholics should find a unity among each other through the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church, which are quite thorough in all the moral and social issues.

But the current political climate has utterly poisoned the parish environment where these discussions and learning should take place. The pernicious effects of poisonous politics creates hostility where discussions and teaching shut down almost the moment they begin. So while there may be a few parishes that are largely unified, many, even most, are seriously divided.

A priest may speak from the pulpit on the horrific practice of abortion and be written off by many as being simply a Republican. He may speak to the issue of capital punishment, or immigration, and though he read directly from the pages of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, he will be simply dismissed with a wave of the hand is sounding like some sort of liberal Democrat. Let the priest speak against homosexual activity and against so-called gay “marriage” and once again he is consigned by many to the ranks of being some “right-wing, reactionary, hateful, Republican.”

It is all very ugly, and even while some may wish to opine that some teachings have more doctrinal authority than others, what I refer to here is a simple refusal even to any openness to being taught, to being persuaded. There is almost complete resistance even to reluctantly agree, just as a matter of strategy, that it might be good to stand unified with our bishops, even in prudential matters. No, it would seem that politics generally rules the day, it drives the discussion, it trumps the faith at every turn.

It is an increasingly difficult and painful landscape for priests to navigate. It is also quite difficult to see any hope for improvement in the near future.

It is of course a problem that is bigger than the Church alone. The synthesis between the Judeo-Christian faith and Western culture has broken down in the last 50 years. This breakdown is intersected with politics.

And while it is true that the Democrat party seems increasingly to be aligning itself with the forces of secularism, and opposing the teachings of historical Christianity, it hardly seems wise at this moment for the Church to wholly abandon any attempt to continue to influence all political parties and movements. Slamming doors, and wholly cutting ties is not generally the instinct of the Church. It also remains a fact that many Catholics, including churchgoing Catholics, remain strongly attached to the Democratic Party, for historical and local reasons. The Church cannot, as a good mother, simply say to some of her children, “No longer darken my door.” Admittedly though, it is an increasingly strained relationship.

Perhaps the best the Church can do in a time like this, perhaps the best that the priests and pastors can do, is to insist, yes even to beg that all the Catholic faithful will use the faith as their starting point. Yes, the faith! Not their politics, not just what they heard some dopey actor say recently, not what they heard in a popular song that has a pretty melody. No, the starting point, the main influence must be the sure, undiluted waters of the Gospel, and the teachings of the faith. And this should be the case no matter what tensions are introduced into a person’s political leanings.

Let the faith be first! Let the Lord have the first word, indeed the last word as well. Faith must be the starting point of how we think on every issue. Would that every Catholic would bring the faith into the political process and make it a dynamic force, rather than to try and bring the political process into the Church, and insist that we make foolish compromises to the clearly revealed truth of the Gospels. Our holy faith comes first. It is the light by which we see and judge everything else. No earthly prince or earthly philosophy should ever be able to overrule the teachings of our Lord in our mind and heart. Faith comes first.

Perhaps we do well to conclude the words of St. Paul to the Philippians:

Complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. (Phil 2:2-3)

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Moral Issues; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: catholic; elections; msgrcharlespope
Do all ministers get messages from their congregation in a similar vein? Oh, you're Republican because you are preaching about abortion, or you're a democrat because you are preaching about caring for the poor?
1 posted on 11/05/2012 9:46:07 PM PST by Salvation
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...

Discussion Ping!

2 posted on 11/05/2012 9:48:39 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Salvation

Perhaps the best the Church can do in a time like this, perhaps the best that the priests and pastors can do, is to insist, yes even to beg that all the Catholic faithful will use the faith as their starting point.

I am a bit disappointed by Msgr. Pope’s message here.

He presents a clear description of the predicament that the priest finds himself in, but, while I sympathize, it seems like whining to me. The priest needs to speak out forcefully against political opinions that are against the teachings of the Church, whether or not he gets accused of being political.

I have a wonderful priest, who is the pastor and the sole priest in my little parish. But, while he gives wonderful homilies, I have heard him talk politics only once — around the time of the Bishops’ push-back on the Obamacare mandate — and abortion only once and in the wimpiest of terms. We desperately need to hear it in the clearest terms when a political stance is morally wrong.

3 posted on 11/06/2012 4:22:16 AM PST by Bigg Red (Pray for our republic.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Salvation

I was disappointed with the lack of discussion in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and our parish.

Our religious leaders do not want to speak out on moral issues affecting our community. It seems that they don’t want to chase people away from attending church and contributing.

Our pastor and the parish council chair both signed recall petitions against our Wisconsin governor.

There seems to be a lot of rationalization in accepting the Liberal positions and politicans that are against church teachings.

4 posted on 11/06/2012 5:50:53 AM PST by ADSUM
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Salvation

Our Bishop and our parish priest explained this political cycle in terms of life being the most important issue as all other rights fall by the wayside without the right to life. Abortion is intrinsically evil and therefore should never be supported. Finally, our parish priest summed it all up very well by asking us all to pray the Our Father, specifically to remember the phrase this election to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

5 posted on 11/06/2012 6:02:04 AM PST by Gerish (Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
Perhaps if they had preached about the intrinsic evil of abortion gay marriage contraception and euthanasia over the years some Catholics would have gotten a clue. Instead they aligned themselves with the social justice crowd and the RAT party. Their unholy alliance with the Kennedy catholics confused many who could have become faithful Catholics. Now we should just sit in the pews with some of our fellow Catholics who helped elect a man who wants to destroy our way of life and sing cumbya. I don.t think so monsignor.
6 posted on 11/07/2012 12:35:53 PM PST by mimaw
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mimaw

Many of the Bishops did speak out against endorsement of candidates who supported abortion, same-sex marriage, contraception, etc.

7 posted on 11/07/2012 12:54:51 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: mimaw

Unfortunately, the CINOs did not listen.

8 posted on 11/07/2012 12:55:02 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Salvation

True many did but unfortunatly most of the hard talk was done after the HHS mandate instead of over the last several decades. Too little too late. The ship sailed decades ago.

9 posted on 11/07/2012 1:29:12 PM PST by mimaw
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
Our "message" was tepid, no more ... but I felt so humiliated at what our religion, in particular had added to the public election of that evil, immoral and amoral man, a friend of mine sent the following email, from me to his many contacts. It is after the fact, and my stomach is still rolling with disgust ... I feel the incidences of fraud are too numerous to count ... but I felt if the priests in the pulpit could not make this point ... I could!


Here is the good news … if you did not vote for Obama in the election, for whatever reason, you probably have good standing within our Faith. However if you voted for ANYONE who supports the killing of the child in the womb or the “relief” of death before its time has naturally been reached, or think that human cloning is a good advance for the world and voted in that direction or donated money to that cause … you have latae excommunicated yourself (** you need no priest or Bishop to pronounce your excommunication, you have done so yourself) from the reception of the Eucharist and ALL other of our Holy Sacraments except for that of Penance, which is effective in forgiveness of the sin ONLY if you realize that you have committed grave sin and intend to separate yourself from such alliances or actions in the future.

What this election has proven is that the “Faithful” are more faithful to worldly comfort and some social ideas which are included in the Groups of wrongdoing that are intrinsic evil and are considered to be the MORAL ABSOLUTES.

There is no such thing as some miracle of justification in splitting yourselves into a political person and still a Catholic if you have supported in any way ... the baby killers, the impossibility of marriage between homosexuals, those who make themselves gods with the science of reproduction (either in vitro, or cloning).

I especially note the Hispanic and Black Cultures and the selfish women who feel that they are not intended to be a vehicle for and harbor for life, for which God made them and who are too selfish to allow a child to be implanted in them, or a Culture which claims to be family oriented until they get into a voting booth or go to scream support at the rallies for a person or party which condones and, in fact, promotes such evil.

This is not a matter of choice, it is fact. So if you are among the many of these groups who defy God as a part of your whole person, you may be damning yourselves to Hell and succeeding generations will NOT CALL YOU BLESSED or mistaken, but rather evil, as is right.

Certainly, refrain from the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ … do not be so two faced as to walk on your knees in Adoration, because you have committed the worst of sins and need forgiveness not false piety. You, my friends, may have thrown the USA to the wolves so to speak.

I know that God is Love, but he is All-Just, One and The Same.

Blessings for Enlightenment!

I don't believe that this is my "job" to make this dire and true consequence and explain it to those who voted for this Administration ... but it certainly was not heard at any Mass I have taken part in in any way, shape or form. I think this should be the concentration ... the self excommunication that accompanies the support of evil.
10 posted on 11/08/2012 5:44:07 AM PST by AKA Elena (St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle! Please PRAY daily for the USA!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
I am very frustrated that 50% of Catholics voted for the pro-abortion Obama and Biden Ticket. I firmly believe that this is in part a failure of our Bishops to take action against so-called Catholic politicians who suppport anti-Catholic positions. A strong action against those CINOs would send a very strong lesson to the Catholic faithful that the Church is no longer a cafeteria where you can pick what you believe.

It occurs to me that the Catholics who attend Mass regularly are also the ones that donate regularly to the Church. Since the Bishops seem to want to ignore the "Catholic" politicians who claim to be Catholic but support non-Catholic positions, we faithful Catholics should tell the Bishops, "no more money until you start formally excommunicating these heretics."

The priest at my parents' parish voted for Obama because of his help for the poor! If the priests don't understand the significance of the difference on the issues of social welfare and abortion, how can the laity? These pro-abort Catholic politicians are creating scandal and confusion in the Church and the Bishops are to cowardly to deal with it.

I think a national movement is in order. The pocket book is the one area that gets everyone's attention. I think Catholics in large numbers should write a letter to their bishops and tell him you are no longer donating to the Church until they take real action. What do you think?

11 posted on 11/08/2012 8:47:25 AM PST by lawdave
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson