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:
The ongoing destruction of over one million innocent human lives each year by abortion
The redefinition of marriage—the vital cell of society—by the courts, political bodies, and increasingly by American culture itself
The excessive consumption of material goods and the destruction of natural resources, which harm both the environment and the poor
The deadly attacks on fellow Christians and religious minorities throughout the world
The narrowing redefinition of religious freedom, which threatens both individual conscience and the freedom of the Church to serve
Economic policies that fail to prioritize the poor, at home or abroad;
A broken immigration system and a worldwide refugee crisis
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.