Rock & Refuge

Priests should only talk about God!

            That’s right. And especially, when it involves bishops. When they, we — me included, stray into commenting about politics, even if we have the good intention of evangelizing it but cannot avoid taking a partisan position, we would be doing wrong and be causing great harm to everyone.

            Christ himself, living at a time and place where the political conditions were far from ideal, refrained from making any comments about politics. About the only time he could be said to have made a political comment was when he referred to Herod as a fox. (cfr Lk 13,32) Other than that he was silent and resisted any attempt to drag him to the political scene.

            In fact, he submitted himself to the prevailing laws at the time, highly imperfect as they were, even if as the Son of God and our Redeemer, he could have been exempted from them. This was the case of whether he had to pay the temple tax or not. (cfr, Mt 17,24-27)

            Current Church laws and praxis have always discouraged the clergy from getting mixed up in political issues. Part of the reason is the autonomy that temporal matters like politics enjoys and has to be respected no matter how much we may disagree with certain political views.

            But the other part of the reason is the obvious danger of alienating some people. Priests, consecrated to be the sacramental personification of Christ as head of the Church, should always be an agent of unity and redemption, concerned mainly with the spiritual and supernatural life of the people.

            Even if we have the better political view, we do not have the privilege to participate actively in the political discussions. Even when the issues involved already have direct repercussions on faith and morals, we should refrain from making comments that can be interpreted as politically partisan.

            The reason behind is that even in the worst scenario, there is always some good that can be derived from it. If we follow by our faith, if we follow by the example of Christ, we just have to go along with whatever political temper there may be at a given time and place and focus more on what we are supposed to do.

            Of course, we as pastors can make moral judgments on political issues that clearly violate faith and morals, but these should be done with utmost delicacy and charity.

            In this regard, we should not be afraid to be misunderstood and to suffer all kinds of persecution, reflecting Christ’s character as a sign of contradiction. What we cannot do is to fall into a kind of bitter zeal that would leave charity behind in pursuit of what we consider to be the truth and the requirements of justice.

            Actually, talking only about God already entails a lot of things and can demand everything from the clergy. It covers everything that is of real and eternal importance to us. Preaching the mysteries of our faith alone is no small matter. This is not to mention that we have to journey pastorally with the people, both in their collective and individual/personal aspects.

            All these require nothing less than full identification with Christ in whose priesthood we participate. The social-action aspect of the clergy’s work should never be interpreted as a ticket to get involved in partisan politics.*

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