Why Priests Shouldn't Preach About Politics

Why should a Catholic priest avoid preaching about political issues--Republican, Democrat or otherwise--in a homily? See what you think about one answer at Beliefnet. Hint: It’s got something to do with whose word he’s preaching, or rather, whose Word. James Martin, SJ
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
9 years 6 months ago
This thorny topic of ''politics in the pulpit'' has a terrible rap this season with Jeremiah Wright and Michael Fegler. Like the saying about pornography, we recognize what it is when we see it and can say it's wrong, but may be at great variance about what expression is right. I don't think the marker of congregational response is the best one to assess the impact of a homily for a whole score of reasons -- mainly because the Spirit is at work with and without us. Partisanship is one thing, but I disagree with the notion that one should not speak about an issue simply because it has an obvious political dimension. Our nation's painful history regarding civil rights and our current quagmire in Iraq may have been different if clergy had taken more responsibility to preach the Gospel and not so fear its political interpretation.
9 years 6 months ago
Thanks so much, Jim, for your insightful piece! I am not a priest; I am a diocesan staff person who speaks on Catholic social teaching, and in an election year, I'm asked to come to parishes to "compare the Democratic and Republican platforms and candidates." I always refuse, insisting that my role is to present Catholic social teaching, "Faithful Citizenship," and invite our brothers and sisters to form their consciences in light of the Gospel and Catholic Social Teaching, use the virtue of prudence, "avoid evil and do good," and make their best choice. As you say, I hope the Word gives us the light to make informed and faithful decisions!

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

As Pope Francis writes in “Laudato Si’,” we face “one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.”
Jim McDermottDecember 18, 2017
(Images: Gage Skidmore, Wikipedia Commons, Antonio De Loera-Brust, Sikelia Productions; Illustration by Antonio De Loera-Brust) 
“Gangs of New York” reminds us that for as long as the United States has been a nation of immigrants, it has been infected by xenophobia.
Antonio De Loera-BrustDecember 18, 2017
South African Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, laughs at President Jacob Zuma, right, at the start of the ruling African National Congress elective conference in Johannesburg on Dec. 16. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)
Although Mr. Ramaphosa is a relatively acceptable leader of the A.N.C. in the eyes of some opposition parties, his economic stance will put him in tension with the populist left Economic Freedom Fighters and many trade unions.
Anthony EganDecember 18, 2017
The pope spoke Dec. 16 with members of the Italian Periodical Press Union and members of the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies, which represents nearly 200 Catholic newspapers.