PRESS RELEASE: Catholics United Responds to Diocese of Orlando’s Refusal to Keep Partisan Politics Out of Its Pulpits

Posted October 30, 2012

WASHINGTON – In response to increasing reports of politicization and partisanship from the pulpits, Catholics United last week sent Catholic parishes in Florida a pledge form. This form had a simple goal: stop partisan activity from tarnishing the sanctity of our Catholic churches and places of worship. But, for officials at the Diocese of Orlando, a one-page request to prevent partisanship from occurring in diocesan parishes was a bridge too far.

“The [pledge forms] appear to be an attempt to silence pastors on issues that are of concern to the Church this election season and contrary to the agenda of Catholics United,” said officials in a statement released on the diocesan website Friday. “It is the recommendation of this office that pastors do not sign the pledge.”

If one thing of this statement is true, it’s that Catholics United has an agenda to encourage houses of worship to cease being political rally sites and return to teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“In this election year, and especially in a swing state like Florida, lay Catholics have been inundated with nasty political attacks,” said James Salt, executive director for Catholics United. “But apparently for the Diocese of Orlando, a parish is not a place one can find refuge from political games, but a place where they are encouraged. Our pledge simply asks pastors to remember the guidelines of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and focus on preaching the Gospel message, not endorsing their favorite candidates. This request was apparently out of line for the Diocese. It’s a shame Orlando Catholics have to endure this type of politicking in their churches.”

The pledge, available for download at http://www.catholics-united.org/pledge, is available for responsible lay and religious Catholics alike to share and discuss. It asks that no political party or candidate be endorsed, and that parking lots and church property be free of partisan literature.

The text of the pledge is as follows:

Keeping the Politics out of our Pulpits
In an effort to protect the sacredness of our sanctuaries, I pledge to keep my house of worship free from partisan activity. As Christians, we have a moral obligation to engage in our nation’s public debate. But our public witness must not involve using Church assets to expressly support or oppose candidates for elective office. We demean our church when we allow it to be used for partisan purposes. I pledge to do everything in my power to prevent this from taking place.

Overt partisan activity includes:

• Making critical or supportive political statements about a candidate for elected office during worship services.

• Allowing partisan literature to be disseminated in the bulletin or on church grounds, including the parking lot.

• Implicitly or explicitly tying issues to candidates which serves to rank them and/or solicit a vote for or against them.

Founded in 2004, Catholics United, and its educational arm, Catholics United Education Fund, are non-profit, non-partisan organizations dedicated to promoting the message of justice and the common good found at the heart of the Catholic Social Tradition. For more information about Catholics United, follow us on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CatholicsUnited) or on our blog at www.OurDailyThread.org.