Politics why doesn't the Church take a position

Why doesn’t the Catholic church take a public position on politics, especially presidential elections? Is it because they don’t won’t to lose there tax exempt status? Which would be a very poor reason in my mind.

Today, we a candidate that is pro life and will appoint conservative supreme court individuals.
Is the other candidate pro life also? Is the other candidate going to appoint judges that will protect religious freedom?

Why doesn’t the church take a public position for all Catholics to follow?

I think it has to do with their tax exempt status. They lose it if they endorse a candidate, I believe, or get otherwise “too involved”.

The Church does not support candidates. It supports teachings. It is not the place of the Church to dictate or interfere with the governance of a country; it’s a Church, not a government. The Church instead leaves politics and matters of governance to the laity. It’s our job to promote candidates who conform to morally acceptable ideas and to hold our leaders accountable.

In other words: because it’s not the Church’s job.

EDIT: Here’s something good to read on that note:


No religious institution, especially a church, needs anything to do with politics. Otherwise, what are they? They are a political-religious institution. It might as well be a dominion theology group like the anti-Semitic, far-right, Protestant CSA terror group.

They would lose their tax exempt status and the Catholic Church would lose its image as a holy institution in the minds of many non-Catholics.

Jesus doesn’t vote. Jesus doesn’t what’s right.

There is actually a very simple but nuanced reason(s)

  1. The Church has learned from European (and Catholic) history that when the Church and State are too closely integrated, abuse happens. Some of these abuses still exist in Europe today. For example: in Germany the “Church tax” is collected and given to the Churches instead of people Tithing directly to the parish. In France, many of the Church buildings are the legal property of the state, etc.

  2. A man cannot serve two masters. This is why priests/bishops are no longer permitted to serve in government (with the exception of the Vatican City & the Holy See). When Bishops/Priests have serviced both roles in the past (both secular govt and Church) there have been numerous times where a conflict of interests has occurred. When the clergyman’s chose the role as secular governor/senator/magistrate/etc over the Church it made the Church look bad, and when the clergyman chose the Church over the government it still made the Church look bad.

  3. in America specifically, the Church has historically had a very rocky relationship with American government. Catholics were not allowed to run for office unless they publicly renounced the Pope, etc. Now priests & bishops did often get directly involved in American politics, and in the 1930s the Archbishop of Chicago all but officially endorsed FDR for re-election and a Msgr professor at Catholic University of America did publicly endorse him on national radio. However, when the Johnson Amendment was placed into (while Johnson most likely meant for it to shut up secular, non-profit enemies of his; I strongly believe fear of it being targeted towards Catholics may have surfaced after the events of JFK’s election and assassination.

  4. furthermore, while Catholic Priests might disagree with the Johnson Amendment, it is also the law in the United States. Unlike some protestant ministers, Catholic Priests are typically not for trying to figure out how to bend or stretch the law. So their tendency is to conservatively follow the law.

  5. Also, as a previous poster linked, Pope Paul IV issued DIGNITATIS HUMANAE which describes the role the laity is supposed to play in government, not the clergy.

  6. Finally, a priest recently told me that there is a concept called the “Theology of St. Paul” which says that priests/bishops need to minister to where people are currently, not where they should be. The priest (who is very orthodox) told me that due to the “Theology of St. Paul” priests/bishops may often refrain from talking about subjects in large audiences (aka during mass or other public liturgies) that will push parishioners who are not 100% in line with the Church away. This is why Priests will often will more open to talk about politics in small groups once they know the people are in agreement with the Church’s teaching and the priest’s views. But a priest will be hesitant (due to the Theology of St. Paul) to preach often on “socially controversial” topics because they do not want the heretics to leave the Church. I believe they have profound hope that if the people with heretical views sticks around long enough, they will learn why the Church teaches what she teaches and embrace orthodoxy, even if at an old age. ---- NOTE: however, I know there are younger priests who believe, while keeping quite about “controversial topics” may have worked somewhat for the World War II generation and the older Baby Boomers, it is actually making things worse for Millennials and Generation X.

I hope this is somewhat helpful.

God Bless

There MUST !! Be a separation between Religion &. State ,
If you go through the History books you will see why,
Even Jesus said something along the line of give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar etc

I find it amusing the “far-right” is always blamed when the left are the ones suing Christians, taking their money or businesses and calling upon state power to force the church to change their teaching? I think using the Muslims and Islam would be a more accurate description of a theocracy.

Make no mistake, the religion of secular humanism is incredibly intertwined with politics. So is the black church. So are the white liberal liturgical churches.

It is basically conservative white churches that are told, or threatened, to stay out of politics.

To the OP, I think Phil19034 has a very good explanation.

The other reason is that Christ transcends politics. Secular governments come and go. While the US has lasted longer than any other government created in the 18th Century, it too is following the trajectory of a nation in decline. At some point it will no longer exist, but Christ and the Church will remain.

So in the long run, the best the church could hope for is a nation that is respectful of Christ and uses as a foundation the Godly principles of treating your neighbor as yourself in governance of the citizens.

I think you are kidding yourself. Trump was staunchly pro choice in the past (listen to his own words in past interviews) but is now only pro life to suit his own selfish purpose.

Very simply: the Church’s role is the salvation of souls, not direction in political affairs. Approximately 1/2 of Catholics in the United States identify as Democrats; approximately 1/2 of Catholics identify as Republican. The Church hopes to lead ALL of them to eternal salvation, but many of these people identify very VERY strongly with a particular political party, maybe (probably even more so than they do with the church) Moreover, if you would take a look at the newly updated USCCB document: “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”, you will see that the bishops identify Nine (9) important topics to consider in voting:

:black_medium_small_square:The ongoing destruction of over one million innocent human lives each year by abortion

:black_medium_small_square:Physician-assisted suicide

:black_medium_small_square:The redefinition of marriage—the vital cell of society—by the courts, political bodies, and increasingly by American culture itself

:black_medium_small_square:The excessive consumption of material goods and the destruction of natural resources, which harm both the environment and the poor

:black_medium_small_square:The deadly attacks on fellow Christians and religious minorities throughout the world

:black_medium_small_square:The narrowing redefinition of religious freedom, which threatens both individual conscience and the freedom of the Church to serve

:black_medium_small_square:Economic policies that fail to prioritize the poor, at home or abroad;

:black_medium_small_square:A broken immigration system and a worldwide refugee crisis

:black_medium_small_square:Wars, terror, and violence that threaten every aspect of human life and dignity

Neither party perfectly represents the Church’s view on all of these topics and the document is careful to emphasize that : “It would be a serious mistake—and one that occurs with regrettable frequency—to use only selected parts of the Church’s teaching to advance partisan political interests or validate ideological biases. All of us are called to be servants to the whole truth in authentic love, and it is our fervent hope and prayer that this document will provide aid to all those seeking to heed this call.”


The full document can be found here: usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/forming-consciences-for-faithful-citizenship-title.cfm

In fact, by my count, five of these topics would be in line with one party and four with the other. That leaves us with the difficult but necessary individual task of weighing priorities.

Accordingly, the Church does not and should not take positions on political races because 1. it is each person’s moral responsibility to form their consciences in such a way as to make a prudential judgment on whom to vote for based on the Church’s teaching; 2. Such judgments are not within the role of the Church to make; and 3.if the Church were to make such judgments for its members it would risk the alienation and potential loss of as many as 1/2 of it’s members’ souls over political issues.(i.e. “What Phil said”).

Politics, government, laws, and elections are so inconsequential as to be virtually meaningless when compared to the eternal destiny of souls, which is what the Church is, and should be, about.


As an aside, I find the perspective of those who immediately jump to “loss of tax exempt status” to be both fairly uninformed and pretty cynical.

It’s true, they take stands on teachings, not selecting candidates. I’m sure Tax Exempt status is one reason (among many), however it’s not the primary reason.

The Church ought not wed itself to a candidate. She already has her spouse, and when the candidate fails (and he will fail), it tarnishes the Church.

Which party do you think best deals with:
:black_medium_small_square:The deadly attacks on fellow Christians and religious minorities throughout the world

What I think with respect to which party best represents each topic is irrelevant. The point is that neither party speaks consistently with a Catholic perspective.

There is NO candidate out there that 100% supports the Catholic Church’s teachings.

If the Church were to publicly back a particular candidate who, for example, was pro-life but also pro-death penalty; how would the Church look then? It would be supporting a candidate who publicly endorses putting people to death. The Church can’t publicly oppose the death penalty* and at the same time support a candidate that is in favor of it. Where would it end? What would be “acceptable” in a candidate and what would not be? Who decides that? Does the pope get involved or does the USCCB have a meeting and endorse someone? What if they don’t all agree? Then what?

The only candidate that could ever be 100% acceptable to the Church would be a candidate that would take his orders directly from the pope, and vote in line with Catholic teaching 1000% of the time.

It’s just better for everyone with the way it is now. The Church does its job by teaching and letting US do the work like we’re supposed to. Our clergy and our Church can’t do everything. The Church teaches us Christ’s Gospel and it is up to US to take it and live it - or leave it (see John 6). The choice is ours.


I think it’s because the church would be attacked and being realistic would people actually listen? The same sex marriage referendum took place in Ireland last year…priests at mass during their homily did speak about the damaging effect it would have if passed but I feel the church in Ireland should have done more, though I can also understand why priests didn’t speak out much because they would have been attacked and persecuted and sadly I feel who would have listened.

The Church teaches that the death penalty is permitted so any candidate supporting the death penalty is not in contradiction to Church doctrine.

My bad. I must have misinterpreted or misread the material in the link I posted. I stand corrected.

Then why are Catholics oftentimes so anti-death penalty? I know Vatican City no longer allows the death penalty (though I could not imagine them administering it), but that’s not the Holy See.

I think on principle it has to do with the “need” for it. In a village in a poverty-stricken region with no way to imprison a dangerous man, it is not wrong. However if a society is rich enough to afford a secure prison, then maybe killing him is wrong.

Indeed, but that’s just the situation that happens to currently exist in this particular country. It’s quite plausible that in some times and in some places there will be one party that lines up perfectly with Catholic social teaching and one party that totally opposes it. What happens then?

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