The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Another priest crosses the line

Elsewhere, I posted about the priest who spoke at Barack Obama’s church last Sunday, and the furor that’s causing.

But get a load of this: Msgr. Jim Lisante, former head of the Christophers, and a pastor in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, delivering an invocation at a Republican fundraiser — and tacitly endorsing John McCain.

If this doesn’t cross a line, I don’t know what does. As Jim Martin has noted, “In 2007, the U.S. Catholic of Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement that read, in part, ‘A Catholic organization may not directly or indirectly make any statement, in any medium, to endorse, support, or oppose any candidate for public office, political party, or PAC.’


You can read more about Lisante’s prayer right here. But take a look:

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Padre Steve

posted May 30, 2008 at 11:50 am

Both of these priests need to get back to their parish communities. I think it is much better that we stay far from political endorsments and prepare our people to make the decisions for themselves. Our Catholic positions are clear and it is up to the clergy to lead by teaching, not endorsing! God bless! Padre Steve

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posted May 30, 2008 at 1:56 pm

I must admit, you are right, he did step over the line.We Catholics should be in the public square to discuss the values of our faith – as Padre Steve says above, clergy should lead by teaching, not by endorsing.

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posted May 30, 2008 at 2:47 pm

Do you honestly believe the two speeches are comparable?The USCCB statement seems more tax oriented than principle oriented. If you were a pastor and there were two candidates in your parish running for office, one for abortion, the other not, would you not favor the pro life candidate. It need not be expressed at every mass nor frequently but in the context of why pro life is in accord with Catholic teaching and the value of each life God creates.

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted May 30, 2008 at 2:57 pm

Buzz…You make a good point, but I think Cardinal George’s response to the Pfleger incident puts this succinctly:“The Catholic Church does not endorse political candidates. Consequently, while a priest must speak to political issues that are also moral, he may not endorse candidates nor engage in partisan campaigning.” Dcn. G.

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posted May 30, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Yes, they are comparable, and I’m someone who won’t vote for Obama under threat of amputation. It was a verbal shot at the Illinois Senator, and Fr. Lisante shouldn’t have made it.I know Fr. Pfleger has a miserable track record of this sort of behavior, but that doesn’t excuse Fr. Lisante.

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Katie & Alen

posted May 30, 2008 at 3:43 pm

He makes endorsements and attacks during a prayer. He is betraying the reasons of his vocation. Alen G.

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posted May 30, 2008 at 3:56 pm

As far as the substance of what was said, Fr. Pflegler’s comments were more offensive, but when it comes to context, I find Fr. Lisante’s even more appalling. He is using a prayer to make political jabs. It’s bad enough that he’s basically endorsing McCain, but he can’t even leave the partisanship alone when he’s praying.Anyway, they’re both pretty bad and I hope their bishops tell them both to stay away from politics a while.

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Chris' CMN 112 Blog

posted May 30, 2008 at 5:00 pm

Well…technically, he did not endorse a candidate, and must be quite a politician himself to be able to dance this thin line so well.I met Fr. Lisante in 1981 when he performed his first marriage – my sister’s.I also saw how he suffered post 9/11 when losing so many members of his faith community.He is a good man and a good priest. And, one should note, as a mortal man he is entitled to his beliefs and yes, even his sense of humor, as evidenced by his talk, which I admit, was a different sort of benediction than I am used to.Are his 15 minutes of fame up yet?Chris

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posted May 30, 2008 at 5:01 pm

And I used to have such respect for Msgr. Lisante …I can’t help but wonder, were there no Catholics there who took offense – and expressed that offense – at such a blatant abuse of prayer?Vicious, partisan priests. Can this election bring us any lower?

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posted May 30, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Oh, I have a feeling that this election is going to be very ugly indeed and bring many to lower themselves into the mud where they will be like frolicking pigs in the sty.

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted May 30, 2008 at 5:17 pm

I met Msgr. Lisante at a Christopher Awards dinner a few years back. Very nice guy. And I’ve been a guest on his radio show. He interviewed me last year. But I’m surprised and disappointed at this. For him to say at the end, ‘Let’s pray that the change that comes in November comes from Arizona, not Illinois’ is, in effect, an endorsement. And unbelievably inappropriate as part of a prayer. Dcn. G.

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posted May 30, 2008 at 5:28 pm

How is it inappropriate to pray for the political success of a candidate for office whose values and objectives are in line with what you believe is right?

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posted May 30, 2008 at 5:30 pm

What is scandalous to the Catholic Church is for Fr. Pfleger to endorse a political candidate who has a verbal and voting record of supporting abortion. In an editorial, entitled “Obama vs. Right to Life” in the May 18, 2008, edition of The National Catholic Register, it stated very clearly that Obama supports abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. The editorial also says that Obama believes that babies born “accidentally” while a doctor attempts to kill them by abortion, has no right to live.No Catholic should support any politician, at any level of government, who does not value life created by God.

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posted May 30, 2008 at 6:48 pm

I think these 2 guys are getting exactly what they were looking for with all the publicity you are given them, the press and media–they should be collard and sent to the jungle to live out there theology–they are clowns for Satan—

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John J. Jakubczyk

posted May 30, 2008 at 8:05 pm

well folks, lets clear up a few things. First, priests and ministers do not give up their rights as Americans to free speech – and that includes any personal – not corporate – comments regarding candidates and elections. It is the location of the comments that must be guarded. Because it would be difficult to separate the pastor from his parish or church, it is not appropriate for a pastor, minister or priest to endorse a candidate from the pulpit. Such an endorsement would give the appearance that the church is endorsing the candidate. However, it is not wrong for a priest to tell someone who he supports or to publicly announce such a position as long as it is clear that it is a personal endorsement.The priest in Chicago frankly has no business supporting a pro-abortion pro-infanticide pro Planned Parenthood candidate and yet while his comments were in very poor taste, they are representative of the liberty protected by our constitution. The priest in New York was speaking at a Republican meeting. That his sympathies are toward the pro-life Republican are not surprising, nor unexpected. Still the best approach all ministers and priests can take is to preach the Gospel of life, admonish the Faithful to only consider those candidates who will protect innocent human life, oppose abortion, defend the sanctity of marriage as initially qualified for examination. We need to be more critical of the vetting process and not accept candidates who vote to kill unborn children or oppose laws that protect marriage.

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johnny b

posted May 30, 2008 at 10:55 pm

You hit it on the nose John J. J.One candidate want to kill born and unborn babies and one want to save most of them. Not a hard decision folks.

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posted May 30, 2008 at 11:39 pm

Maybe Father Lisante did step over the “political line”, but I know for a fact he is passionatly pro life. I was at a retreat with him once where he told a heart wrenching story of how he saved his own nephew from an abortion.While I not trying to make excuses for him, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that his “pro life passion” got the best of him.I thank God for the staunch pro life priests, and for that reason alone, I willing to cut him a break on this one. He really is a good and holy priest.I suspect his “passion” and what looks to be inappropiate prayer was more of a result of his horror at the thought of an infanticide president.

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david van hofwegen

posted May 30, 2008 at 11:48 pm

I thank God for priests willing to stand with candidates who stand with peace and against the death penalty.

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posted June 1, 2008 at 10:51 pm

Frs. Pfleger and Lisante clearly enjoy being the center of attention far too much. Lot of pride on display behind those pulpits.

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posted June 2, 2008 at 7:13 am

Frs. Pfleger and Lisante clearly enjoy being the center of attention far too much. Lot of pride on display behind those pulpits.That sums it up pretty well.

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Tor Hershman

posted June 9, 2008 at 11:01 pm

Moi hast not made any statement for nor against ANY single candidate as moi’s YouTube film clearly states. Dr. Tor Hershman.

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