Priests shouldn’t engage in partisan politics—except?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 10, 2018

Bishop Michael Warfel of Great Falls-Billings has reprimanded four priests who appeared in clerical collars, as VIP guests, at a rally for President Trump in Montana. And rightly so, because priests should not take part in partisan political activities.

At the same time, Cardinal Blase Cupich has enthusiastically backed a demonstration led by Father Michael Pfleger, which blocked traffic on a major highway in Chicago.

It’s true that Father Pfleger’s demonstration was not organized to support any specific political candidate (although it was certainly intended to make some politicians squirm). But is that really the crucial difference?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: feedback - Jul. 13, 2018 12:33 AM ET USA

    Cupich went to meet with Obama less than a week after he was installed in Chicago.

  • Posted by: thomas28899 - Jul. 12, 2018 8:50 AM ET USA

    It seems to me that Pope Francis is willing to be quite political, why can't priests do the same?

  • Posted by: mary_conces3421 - Jul. 10, 2018 6:49 PM ET USA

    As I understand it, (& I’m no expert) priests are forbidden canonically to hold political office and legally & prudentially to back a particular candidate or party from the pulpit. I know you’re mainly pointing out a double standard, And I’ve wished for years that Fr. Pfleger would be quiet. Nevertheless, I think priests should be allowed free speech out of the pulpit.So much is political now. Even an anti-abortion rally.