What do I do about a pro-choice priest?

Father gave a sermon a couple weeks ago about voting in the election. He started off by stating that a few years ago he gave a sermon on the Iraq War that caused one of the parishioners to get up in the middle of the sermon and leave. This person left this parish and went to another one. The priest then said that he is not sorry to have offended this person because he has to stand up for what he believes in. Then he moved on to the main point of his sermon. His sermon was about voting and who we should vote for. He said that while one of the parties may not be good on a “certain issue,” they are good when it comes to protecting Social Security and Medicare, raising taxes on the rich, and social justice in general. Because this party is so righteous in these areas we shouldn’t hold this “certain issue” against them when we go into the voting booth.

I just had to reach out to the priest. He knows me well, he knows my family, so I am not a random person. I have a 10-month-old son. I emailed the priest and asked him, point blank, if he believes that if I were to take my son to the town square and shoot him in the head if that is the same “evil” as if my wife were to have gotten an abortion while she was pregnant with him. I asked him “Do you believe that fetuses have a right to life?” I asked “Are you pro-choice or pro-life?” I didn’t talk about parties; I simply focused on the morality of abortion and wanted to know if he shared the Catholic teaching that abortion is wrong.

He emailed me back and said he was offended by my analogy and basically blew me off. He didn’t deny being pro-choice. He said he doesn’t mix politics into his sermons. I told him he’d be surprised to find out he’s more political than he realizes. So he sent me back an email that said essentially “I will not discuss this further.” What do I do now? Do I leave the parish or should I try to work this out?

From your account, it sounds to me like both of you acted and reacted abrasively to each other, although the priest probably is more culpable because he turned the homily into an opportunity to directly stump for his political agenda. I must say though that non-denial does not equal assent. Simply because the priest did not tell you he opposes abortion does not mean that he supports it. So it would be unfair for you to characterize his stance as “pro-choice” (i.e., pro-abortion).

At this point, I doubt that it would do any good to continue to approach the priest about his politics. Rather, it probably would be better to focus on the actual wrong he committed, which was to essentially tell his congregation how they should vote. Since you have already tried talking to the priest about it, at this point you can write a summary of events to the bishop. Keep in mind that the bishop probably will look more favorably upon your letter and give it greater consideration if you admit to and apologize for reacting abrasively to the priest and thereby souring your chances of resolving the matter with the priest personally.

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