What I missed yesterday was the afternoon’s reprimand of Fr. Pfleger by his boss Francis George, the cardinal archbishop of Chicago. Let’s assume, then, that Bill Donohue knew that Pfleger had incurred episcopal displeasure. Is it any more the Catholic League’s business to serve as the hierarchy’s enforcer of ecclesiastical discipline?
More interesting, though, is this first paragraph of George’s statement:
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.
This is a more absolute statement of principle than, for example, Cardinal Avery Dulles made four years ago when he said, “The Catholic Church has generally tried to avoid endorsing any particular party or candidate for office.” There would, of course, be serious tax problems in the U.S. if the Catholic Church as such endorsed a candidate or party. But elsewhere in the world, and to this day, it has and does.
But assume for the sake of argument that Cardinal George is right. Should that require a reprimand of Monsignor Jim Silante, shown below giving an Obama-mocking, McCain-endorsing invocation at the annual dinner of the New York Republican Party Thursday evening? And what about the partisan activity of the Catholic League itself? Does the Catholic League speak for the church?