Jun 15, 2018
This past week’s Supreme Court decision concerning religious liberty and the recent rescinding of the mandate that forced a handful of 80 year old Sisters of the Poor to pay for birth-control reminded me of a correspondence I had with a parishioner almost a decade ago.
The issue he respectfully voiced was an objection to my speaking from the pulpit about a group of sisters being forcing to violate their consciences. His objection was that I was speaking about what he labeled as a wholly political issue
My response to him was not so much that the Sisters had been deprived of a basic human right, the right to follow one’s conscience. Instead, I saw an additional issue: he would have prevented an ordained minister from preaching the Gospel, something the State may not do.
The separation of Church and State does not prevent a priest from speaking from the pulpit about a current moral issue, and this certainly was a moral issue.
The argument I proposed to him was that I was addressing the moral issue, something that is entirely within the job description of a minister of the Church. At the same time, I was not endorsing a particular political party or candidate, and I was not telling people for whom they must vote. Therefore, I was not violating the State’s doctrine.
Not only may I speak about a current moral issue from the pulpit, I must speak about such issues if I am to be true to the calling I have from God: to preach the Gospel.