Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dear Deacon at the Parish We Visited: Enough Already.

Dear Deacon at the Parish We Visited This Weekend:

Maybe because you are not a priest you get a pass on not politicking from the pulpit?

You are not the first deacon or priest in these past few months who tried to sway my vote. Enough already. Many Catholics, such as our own children, are not eligible to vote. The family on the other side of the aisle are not U.S. citizens. Who, exactly, do you imagine you are talking to?

Stop politicizing the Eucharist. I respectfully ask you to consider the words of Blessed John Paul and also to refrain from haranguing people about voting.

 "He must avoid presenting his own choice as the only legitimate one, and within the Christian community, he should respect the maturity of the laity (cf. Ench. Vat., IV, 1196), and even work to help them achieve that maturity by forming their consciences (cf. Ench. Vat., IV, 1194). He will do what is possible to avoid making enemies by taking political stands that cause distrust and drive away the faithful entrusted to his pastoral mission."

I have been a Catholic for half a century. I do my best to live out my faith every day - at home, at work and in my community. I am far from perfect; in fact, like you I am a sinner.

My Christian life involves every moment of my day; from the moment I rise at 5:30 a.m. and say my matins to the moment I fall asleep about 11:30 in the evening after doing an Examination of Conscience and praying the rosary. Voting will take about five minutes. 

So please, as a person of faith, help me raise these teenaged boys God has placed in our lives, help me be a better wife, a more loving neighbor, a more patient and encouraging special-education teacher, and truer friend. 

Talk to me about the saints (why did you forget St. Theresa and St. Francis this Sunday?) about the beautiful traditions of the church, about how its rhythms and rites and sacraments can draw us closer to the Mystery that created us all. 

Know sir, that my next-door neighbors, dear friends and close family members include people who are gay, who follow other faiths or no faith at all. Know that I pray every day on how to love them despite our differences in belief and outlook. Know that I see in them a Beauty that only comes from our Creator. 

I am praying for you too, Deacon Whose Name I Do Not Know. Please pray for me. 


A lifelong Catholic


  1. Allison, I have to say that if every Catholic layperson was mature & had a well formed conscience, what the deacon preached about wouldn't be necessary. As it is, probably 90% of the people he was preaching to were clueless when it comes to understanding what "cooperating in an intrinsic evil" means to each of their souls. During the Dems' Ccnvention, they were loud & proud re: being the Abortion Party. No secret there. So this election represents a distinct choice that has moral ramifications well beyond abortion, same sex marriage etc.
    I know you know all this already. I'm not telling you anything. It's just important to me to say that, if the next 4 yrs are like the last 4 yrs, my brother & my son & many local priests will be jailed for refusing to perform same sex 'marriages'. This isn't unloving or prejudice on their or the Church's part. It's the natural ramifications of the teaching of the Church which is at variance with a government that believes it can legislate belief. Once our local parishes begin to close, Catholics may get the message. Until then, I think the Deacon was just trying to make up for lost time this morning.

  2. It's unlikely that priests will be jailed for refusing to perform same sex marriages...nothing I've seen in any law demands that any minister must marry everyone who appears at their door and asks. No one is being jailed now for refusing to marry those who do not meet their denominations requirements, e.g. for refusing pre-Cana.

    1. @Michelle I doubt priests will be jailed either. The most likely scenario for this to unfold is that the church stops marrying people in the US. Refusing marriage to gays will be discrimination and even though that is not against the law for an association it will lose it's tax exempt status. That would have too severe an impact on the Church's ability to sustain other programs.
      A similar scenario has already happened in several states where the church has shut down adoption and foster care programs since following church guidelines would be discriminatory and cause it to lose state funding.
      I don't really mind this development. Though admittedly I'm prone to cynicism about popular culture. In my opinion the church is far to lenient on who it allows to marry in the US already. It's probably better that no-one can get a sacramental marriage in this country

  3. And that also goes for priests who use their FB pages to tell us who to vote for and why we will go to hell if we vote for somebody else.

  4. First of all, Allison, I am so sorry that this happened to you all. The pulpit is for the Word.

    I have to say that all this talk of jail, the church not performing marriages, and cynicism about popular culture makes me want to laugh - and cry.

    Such talk causes me to wonder who heard the readings and Gospel this weekend? I am struck by the first reading in which Eldad and Medad were prophesying and that was just fine with Moses, and of course - God.

    The Gospel really hits home - people are driving out demons in Jesus' name and the apostles are upset! But Jesus, as usual, clarifies.

    As for the Church in the world - our catholicity demands that we be out in the world, in the world and of the world. We are to be Christ in the world!

    We are Catholics - we are awash in creation. And it is all good.

    1. Fran: Yes! Even the apostles tried to impose themselves as gatekeepers to what could be done in Jesus' name. And Jesus says if anyone does this in my name it is okay with me. Meanwhile, that deacon said we can evangelize through the voting booth. Yikes.

    2. I indeed did not go to church this weekend...

    3. We're all sick with the stomach flu

  5. So I wasn't at the homily and you didn't provide much info on it, which is fine. It actually provides for a cleaner argument... but there is a risk you're reacting to something really outrageous that I'm not aware of...
    Sticking to the given parameters of your statement about politics during the homily: I don't really see a problem: Surely you're not implying that politics is somehow above religion... And if it's not, and if it's part of life, especially now, why should it be excluded? And like I said elsewhere one party is explicit, almost ebullient at times, in it's embrace of what the church defines as intrinsic evil. So in that context I can hardly feel any indignation that priests and deacons find it important to bring up politics before an election to make a glaringly obvious point, even if I don't agree with them.
    Given that I don't think I have ever heard a political homily that didn't make me squirm. Still my political views have changed (I prefer to think evolved) quite a bit over the last few years. I would hesitate to say because of the embarrassing political homilies... but most certainly as a result of examining the statements and reasoning coming from people in the church who speak out regardless of the tornado of confusion that is spun from their words by the media and politically polarized... so yeah... as far as politics in homilies goes... bring it on.... [ especially when I'm not present;) ]

    1. We will disagree. I do not go to church for instructions on who to vote for; as far as I understand, churches may not endorse political candidates and this guy essentially was. I do not see my voting habits as a way to evangelize others, as he said was the main way we are now called to evangelize others.

  6. We can't have a proper disagreement if you insist on responding to ever different snippets from that mystery deacon's homily in the past... ;) I'm trying to have a proper argument with you about your central point in your blog that politics does not belong in homilies... the specifics about dumb deacons or homilies that totally miss the mark is not really worth spending much time on... ?

  7. Vincent: Implicitly endorsing national political candidates is not an appropriate use of a homily. A homily as far as I understand it, is supposed to reflect the Gospel reading. Never in my years as a Catholic have I heard such partisanship from the pulpit as I have these past few months. No one political party has a grasp on the fullness of the Gospel and yes, it is a misuse of the ambo to suggest to parishioners that they;d better vote for a certain candidate.

  8. It is an inherent problem in this overly simplistic 2 party system that you can immediately infer the suggested party preference of anybody making any political statement. [Except with me of course as I am adamantly, a typically different, third party voter every election]. So that then is your point? Since no one can say a word about politics in this binary country without an implicit endorsement then the laws of the government are more important then anything that could actually be important about politics?

    I've never given thought about what homilies ought to be... I guess I assumed they were supposed to make the readings relevant to the present... and of course there are endless ways to do that in a bad way when bringing up the present situation in politics... but it's not impossible... hence my objection to what appears to be your blanket assertion that politics should never be in homilies (even from well formed intelligent priests etc.?)

    I suppose I have it easy, I'm a foreign national (ok dual citizen (I am a US citizen too) but I claim the right to cavalierly temporarily renounce whichever one of nationalities doesn't suit me at any moment) I find the US political institution / system / process absurd. And I find myself, as far as I know (a dangerous caveat) in agreement with the Catholic Church on all the so-called hot-button issues that come up in politics. In short I have no horse in this race. Yeah I don't like to hear that deacons are making idiots of themselves but that's besides the point. And if anything I don't mind things getting worse as that prompts me to do something about it. e.g: move. (I've heard some fascinating things about large catholic communities in India.)

    Looking from this outsiders perspective I do have nothing but sympathy for deacons and priests who attempt, and even screw up, to speak out against the recent outrageous developments in the democratic party / leadership:

    Any hope that the intrinsic evil of abortion might one day become somewhat proportional to the practical evils of the republican party or even somehow reach a balance point with the other goods the democrats espouse is really gone. Of course it was never believable (just as republicans are never believable) but at least democrats used to have language like "abortion should be rare, but legal" in their platform, leaving room for hope. That language has been deliberately removed from the platform this election.

    The other obvious current issues such as gay-marriage and the HSS mandate are really a tiny side show to that but they are different in the sense that they appear to have no positive value for any constituent ...they are almost completely negative and punitive.

    How can it be that in the current context politics shouldn't be discussed in homilies?

  9. Might I propose a reading of this link - Fulfilled in Your Hearing. The US Catholic Bishops' document on breaking open the Word. The homily can be topical to the present. No one in a pulpit, according to the USCCB's Faithful Citizenship document, should be asking people to vote for or against a particular candidate or party.

    1. What you're quoting though really means no explicit support for party / candidate. It doesn't say they can't talk about politics. Allison has a problem with implicit support. Can anyone say anything political in the current climate / system that doesn't immediately appear to affiliate them with one party or the other? ...and thereby leads to inevitable implicit support? In 1979 the anti/pro religious schism in politics had barely started and was probably not obvious at the time.

      Still, looks interesting for other reasons, I'll give it a read.

    2. If I read you correctly, at this point you have descended into abject rudeness, Vincent. It would appear that you have missed the point entirely and been unkind, with a dose of condescension. What a lethal combination. God have mercy.

    3. The Fulfilled in Your Hearing document [] is interesting but doesn't really pertain to this thread.

      The USCCB's Faithful Citizenship document is really all about this thread. The link is here: []

      What I believe Allison is referring to is (ironically) in the tax code:
      "Section 501(c)(3) (also known as the Johnson Amendment) of the Internal Revenue Code is the regulation that disallows tax-exempt churches and organizations from getting involved in political campaigns by endorsing or opposing any candidate for public office."

      My question remains. [How in this current circumstance can a cleric talk about moral issues in politics without making an implicit endorsement]. Looking for answers elsewhere.