Can a deacon voice his political views on social media?

The deacon at my parish is currently being attacked on social media because he posted a meme in support of a controversial politician. People are saying that, since he is a permanent deacon, he has no business posting his political views on social media. I would like to come to his defense. Isn’t he free to do this? I feel badly for him.

Deacons and other clergy have a human right to express their personal opinions, but they also have to remember that they are no longer laity. One of the perks of being a layperson is the privilege of taking sides in political debates. Clergy, on the other hand, must remember that with ordination comes the responsibility to avoid doing anything that makes it appear that a personal political opinion is endorsed by the Church (or even just the parish or diocese in which the clergy minister).

When he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis went so far as to refuse to vote for candidates for a political office, even though it was illegal to do so in Argentina. He said, in the book On Heaven and Earth:

It is debatable if it is all right for me not to vote, but at the end of the day I am a father of all and I cannot be wrapped in a political flag. I realize that it is difficult to disentangle myself from the electoral climate when elections approach, above all when some come to beat down the door of the Archdiocese [of Buenos Aires] to say that they are the best.

As a priest, before an election, I send the faithful to read the political platforms so that they can choose. In the pulpit I take care of myself rather well, I stick to asking people to look for the values and nothing else.

Perhaps it is a good thing your deacon is experiencing push-back from the laity for having posted a meme in support of a controversial politician. It may give him reason to consider not doing so again.

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