Miami Archbishop: We’re not “party bosses”

That is the bracing message from Miami Archbishop John C. Favalora in a Sept. 12 column that is the best rendering I’ve yet seen of how the church–and the bishops–can approach the elections. The statement is titled “Why we don’t take sides on candidates,” and it is aimed at a conservative Christian group, the Alliance Defense Fund, which is promoting a “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” this weekend (CNS has a good story) to get clergy to buck IRS tex-exemption rules and opposing candidates who “do not align themselves and their positions with the scriptural truth.”


Favalora points out the obvious problem with wilfully forgoing tax-exempt status, but he also makes an argument that is particularly apropos ahead of next month’s Synod of Bishops on the Bible:

…”scriptural truth” is not that easy to attain. Which is more “true” in terms of scripture: The Old Testament passage that says “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” or Jesus’ admonition to “turn the other cheek”?

The problem is that people often quote selectively from Scripture in order to back their own opinions. The other problem is that rarely, if ever, does an individual candidate or political party embody the gamut of “scriptural truth.”


The Catholic Church values Scripture, but we also value 2,000 years of oral and written tradition handed down from the apostles and their disciples, and another 2,000 years of ongoing theological reflection by some of the greatest thinkers and saints.

When we teach on a particular moral issue, we rely on the whole of that tradition rather than on any individual’s opinion or interpretation of Scripture.

That is not to say that we are not involved in politics. Catholics do not give up their right to vote or take political sides when they are baptized.

But the role of the church is not to be like the “party boss” who goes around telling people how to vote. Our responsibility is to remind people to vote wisely; to reveal to them the wisdom of Scripture, the wisdom of the church’s moral tradition, so that they can base their votes on solid moral ground.


Too often, people vote based on their feelings, or on the partial sound-bites of candidates pushing a particular point of view. More often than not, decisions based on feelings or partial information turn out to be wrong.

That is why it is especially important for voters to study all sides of an issue — or candidate — and examine that information in light of their own beliefs and values.

When church leaders speak on issues such as immigration, poverty, health care, abortion, war or embryonic stem cell research, we are not telling people how to vote. We are reminding them of the moral teachings that should inform their lives, and as a result, their votes.

Actually, these are words Catholics themselves could read profit from (tax-free). Check the entire text…

Hat tip to NCR

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posted September 25, 2008 at 10:54 am

Archbishop Favalora and All Bishops in mortal coil,
Perhaps you are correct, the truth of scripture is not that easy to decern. We as catholics however say we are a people of life. We know
that abortion is the direct murder of a human person who by our
proposed belief system is guilty only of original sin (they have not
had the oportunity to do anything wrong). They have an inaliable
right to life. One cannot be in communion with “The Life”, Jesus in
the eucharist and not hold this belief.
Homosexual activity itself has shown itself to be a genecidal death blow to the entire human race (aside from the fact that scripture indicates that God gets really torked about it).
In this year of St. Paul it is appropriate to note, he wrote one letter to Titus and another to Timothy telling them how to choose a
local bishop (“Married only once…For if they cannot run their own
house, how will they run the house of God?”)
So perhaps you are right and to it’s logical conclusion we should just
throw scripture out, as we don’t seem to pay much attention to it.
You are right, you are not a party boss and it is not the party that
needs to be addressed but the conscience of the Catholic. Come now, let us set things right. I put before you then life or death, the blessing or the curse. Choose life that you and your decendants might
live long upon the land your Father gave you.
As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

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posted September 25, 2008 at 2:41 pm

Once more, another piece from the Roman Catholic Church with which I agree (like the article from the Vatican on the Western economy). It is time for authorities like Bishop Favalora to be heard, especially is contrast to the other religious leaders who seem to think they know it all. I applaud and offer this good Bishop my heartiest liberal protestant blessing.

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