During the presidential campaign of 2016, TV news coverage showed Hillary Clinton speaking at a number of black Protestant churches – and speaking not in the more or less secular church basement, but in the sanctuary itself, apparently during Sunday services. This reminded me that we would never find anything like this in a Catholic church.
This Catholic unwillingness to welcome political speeches in the sanctuary can be explained by at least three main factors:
First, the dignity of the Mass itself. We feel that it would be, quite literally, a profanation if so secular a thing as partisan politics were allowed to intrude upon the most sacred of our sacred rites.
Second, we fear that our churches would lose their tax-exempt status if they allowed themselves to become theaters for partisan campaigning. (Why black Protestant churches don’t fear this is a puzzle.)
Third, the Catholic Church, during the last couple of centuries, has paid a heavy price for too close an alliance between itself and some class-based political parties in countries like France, Spain, and Mexico. This painful experience has taught us a lesson.
But how far can the leadership of the Church go in abstaining from partisan politics? Suppose that a hypothetical anti-Catholic political party announced that it would make it an offense, a civil offense and perhaps a criminal offense, for a bishop to refuse to ordain to the priesthood women or homosexuals, trans men or trans women, or married men.
Or suppose this hypothetical party announced that it would make it a “hate crime” for priests to speak of homosexual conduct as a sin; or that it would make it a crime for a religious organization to discriminate against transgenders or proud and practicing homosexuals in hiring or promotion.
Or suppose the party made it clear that it would fire Catholic public-school teachers who expressed, even outside of school (e.g., on Facebook), their opinion that acts of homosexuality are sinful and unnatural; or that transgenderism is an absurdity.
I could multiply imaginary situations, but I think you get the idea. Will our clerical leaders remain a-political until the hypothetical party begins shooting priests and nuns?…
The above comes from a March 4 story on The Catholic Thing.