Can priests be politcians / run for office / partake in politics?

I have posed this question on the “Ask an Apologist” section several times all with no response.

Anyway, just wondering if it were possible that priests can run for politics / run for office (especially within the context of Catholic states / catholic majority countries) and champion pro-Catholic issues, such as defense of mariage, counter-homosexuality etc etc.

Many thanks

According to Canon Law, a cleric generally may not hold public office:

Canon 285 §1. Clerics are to refrain completely from all those things which are unbecoming to their state, according to the prescripts of particular law.

§2. Clerics are to avoid those things which, although not unbecoming, are nevertheless foreign to the clerical state.

§3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.

Canon Law is not absolutely binding - it is possible for a Bishop (including a Pope) to grant a dispensation for a particular cause. So it is not impossible, but it is not ordinary.

A cleric may promote political causes which are consistent with Catholic teaching (such as Priests for Life, who promote the pro-Life cause). In the United States, a priest must be careful to not overtly politicize his pulpit - this could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of his parish.

This also applies to all religious, priests, brothers and nuns. A few years ago in Michigan, a nun was appointed to run one of the departments I think it was Michigan Department of Health and human services. The Bishops made her choose between her religious order or step down. She left her order. Not allowing our priests and religious of be in civil public office avoids more problems and conflicts of interests. Maybe the Church has learned some things from the middle ages where the church and state became more entangled. This doesn’t stop the Church from speaking out and supporting things such as traditional marriage, stop HHS,
pro-life and anti-euthanasia etc. Hopefully, Catholic would follow their Bishops and support these issues.

Of course, now that I think about it, the Pope is also the ruler of a sovereign nation - he is head of both Church and State. So I guess that at least ONE person is also a political leader.

There was a priest who became governor of his province in the Philippines. His bishop put him “on leave” during this time. He was popular then and then thought about running for president. His bishop then told him he would be defrocked if he even files for candidacy for the presidency. He didn’t. He also lost the next election for governor. Not sure if he has resumed his ministry.

I don’t think they ordinarily can be. The Pope is the head of Vatican City as well as the Church, so he is an exception. I know that there were prince-bishops in the Holy Roman Empire, but I don’t know what the rules were then.

President Fernando Lugo of Paraguay was the bishop of San Pedro before he ran for office. He originally requested permission to become a politician from the Vatican, which was denied, then he requested laicization, which was also denied. He ran for president anyway and won, whereupon he was laicized for disobedience. Interestingly, had he not been ultimately laicized he would have been unable to serve, since the Paraguayan constitution prevents ordained ministers from holding electoral office.

(It later came to light that he was the father of an alarmingly high percentage of the children born in his diocese while he served as bishop, but that’s another issue!)

I couldn’t say maybe we should ask **Reverend ** Al Sharpton. :wink:

To the post above me. Sorry. The US Secret Service got there first. :stuck_out_tongue:

Considering that the Vatican is about 0.2 square miles, it is hardly big enough to be considered anything. Actually Vatican city and its day to day operations is not really run by the Pope but by the President of Vatican City which I think is Cardinal Szoka from Detroit Mi still. The Pope while head of the Church is more of a figure head of Vatican City and the nitty gritty daily issues of a 0.2 square mile country is the president of Vatican City. There is no violation on a ban of religious from running for political offices to why the Pope or at least the President of Vatican city is a cardinal. They did not run for office in Vatican City and Vatican City really exist just to hold the head of the Catholic Church and St. Peters Basilica and it related offices.

Vatican City is run by an appointed Cardinal and he is the president of Vatican City and is in charge of the daily operations of 0.2 mile country. It is not a democracy and exist to hold the seat and head of the Catholic Church.

It really is a good thing that cannon law forbids consecrated religious from running for or being appointed to political office. There just are too many conflicts of interest and issues with that. I remember very well in 1988 when Pat Robertson was running for the president, I knew several people that supported him and wanted “God’s Man” as president and that he would be used by God to fix the country. It was a turn off and raises too many issues like what if you didn’t want to vote for God’s man. I felt the same way about Mike Hucklebee.
I have see even very locally a Protestant minister become a township trustee. It is one thing to speak out on issues but it is another when a religious or minister is running or being appointed to political office at any level.

Not only may we not hold elected office, but even appointed offices, such as Federal Judgeships are prohibited. Moreover, we are not permitted to “publicly” endorse any candidate for public office, though we may quietly contribute to campaigns, as long as our name is not used in campaign materials.

Thiis applies to all clerics, Bishops, Priests and deacons alike.

I offer you Rev. Andy Hogan:

The current ban was only instituted in 1984; Fr. Hogan served from 1974 to 1980. In 1984 there was another Catholic priest in the Canadian parliament, Fr. Bob Ogle, who resigned his seat when the ban was published.

No, priests are strictly forbidden to run for office or promote politics while in their station. All they are allowed to do is vote like regular citizens.

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