The following press release was sent out by Catholic Democrats earlier today
Catholic Democrats has sent a letter to each of the Catholic pastors and parish administrators across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts asking them to keep their parishes safe from partisan politicking. The letter, which was faxed to parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston and the Dioceses of Fall River, Springfield, and Worcester, also suggests resources from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) that pastors and parish staff can access to keep their parishes free from divisive partisan activities on the final Sunday of the 2012 election season. The letter asks pastors to empower parish employees and volunteers to instruct any outside organization to cease placing political leaflets within the church or on cars parked on church property. The USCCB does not authorize the distribution of partisan political materials on parish property.
“We are hearing from Catholics around the country and across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that they feel unwelcome in their own parishes because of partisan political activities and messages, like leafleting, that are going on at Mass during this campaign season,” said Steve Krueger, president of Catholic Democrats. “Parishes are our spiritual homes – faith communities intended to unite Catholics in Christ. They can serve to help form our consciences so that we may best use our prudential judgment to address a range of moral issues in our lives, including our voting decisions. Unfortunately, too often over the past decade, and especially this past year, we have witnessed our parishes becoming spiritual-political battlegrounds. Being a pastor is a tough job, and we hope that this letter will help them keep their parishes safe from political division for the good of our Church, the faith lives of all Catholics, and our nation.”
A copy of the letter is below:
October 30, 2012
Dear Pastor or Parish Administrator:
We realize that, as a pastor, you recognize how divisive partisan politics can be to a parish community. We want to make sure that you are aware of how political partisanship in parishes is personally affecting Catholics this election and offer some suggestion as to what you can do in the final week of the campaign to prevent partisan politicking in your parish.
In the past year, Catholic Democrats has heard from many Catholics around the country, and across the Bay State, who have shared troubling stories like this:
I am a lifelong Catholic who attended Catholic schools and college. I am a Democrat because I am a Catholic and I worship at a parish where I hear and see partisan political messages that I haven’t experienced before. They are alienating and make me feel unwelcome at Mass. I don’t know what to do. Can you help me?
As a fellow Catholic, I am writing you on behalf of the 60% to 70% (according to Pew Forum polls) of our Catholic sisters and brothers – including Democrats, Independents, and Republicans – who feel that politics and candidate endorsements, however subtle, should be kept out of our parishes.
Helping the poor and our belief that Jesus is present in the Eucharist are among the two most important factors that animate the Catholic identity in daily life. When partisan politics finds its way into our spiritual homes, particularly during Mass, it divides Catholics from one another at the precise time when we are called to community in Christ.
Our Catholic tradition calls us to bring both our faith and reason to bear on the moral issues of our time. We do this through our prayerfully informed conscience, our understanding of the Catholic tradition, and by applying our own prudential judgment to moral issues, including our voting decisions. Unfortunately, too often and with increasing frequency over the past decade, we have witnessed our parishes become spiritual-political battlegrounds. The consequences of this are debilitating not only to the future of our Church but also to the future of our nation.
As we enter the final days before this election, we ask that you help keep your parish free of partisan political activities and messages. Here are some practical suggestions:
- Print the following United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) recommended announcement in a prominent place in your parish bulletin on November 4, 2012:
We strongly urge all parishioners to register, to become informed on key issues, and to vote. The Church does not support or oppose any candidate, but seeks to focus attention on the moral and human dimensions of issues. We do not authorize the distribution of partisan political materials on parish property. See http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/dos-and-donts-guidelines-during-election-season.cfm.
- If you want to distribute some material, print the recommended USCCB bulletin insert for “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” in your parish bulletin. For a printable copy, see http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/upload/Forming-Consciences-Faithful-Citizenship-bulletin-insert.pdf.
- Instruct parish employees, ushers and/or other parishioners to immediately remove unauthorized pamphlets and handouts within the church and on church property, including the parish parking lot. Empower them to tell people leafleting cars on church property to leave immediately or the police will be notified.
- You and the parish staff may also want to familiarize yourself with the USCCB’s parish guidelines for “Do’s and Dont’s” during an election season. See http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/dos-and-donts-guidelines-during-election-season.cfm.
Father, we know that being a pastor is one of the toughest jobs in the world and we regret the burden the election season is putting on you. However, we sincerely believe that these suggested measures will protect the bond of Catholic faith that unites us as one in Christ.
Steven A. Krueger