Thomas Reese, S.J., now writing for Religion News Service (RNS), offers some advice, from his own perspective: 

Other than hiding in the basement, what can parishioners ask their pastors to do to keep their parishes from turning into partisan war zones?

First, avoid politics in your sermons.

According to the Pew Research Center, 76% of Catholics do not want to hear partisan endorsements from the pulpit. Only 53% percent say they share the opinions of their clergy when politics are discussed, the lowest number for any denomination.

If you want to avoid trouble, never mention the candidates’ names, never mention a political party. It is appropriate to encourage people to vote and to talk about issues, but don’t let your parishioners know how you are going to vote.

And if you preach on issues, preach on the full spectrum of Catholic social teaching, not on just a single issue. If all you preach on is capital punishment, you are signaling your support for the Democrats. If all you preach on is abortion, you are signaling your support for Republicans.

Second, keep partisan politics out of the parish bulletin and the parish website.

In the run-up to the election, it would be best only to use material from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops or from your state Catholic conference. Provide quotes from and links to “Faithful Citizenship,” “Laudato Si’,” “Fratelli Tutti” and other official documents but not material from other groups no matter how “Catholic” they claim to be.

A useful one-page bulletin insert is available from the USCCB.

Do not let any other organization, not even pro-life or social justice groups, have space in your bulletin or website prior to the election.

If it comes from the bishops, you are probably safe, but if it comes from anyone else, watch out.

There are more suggestions. Read the rest. 

He concludes with this statement from the USCCB:

We strongly urge all parishioners to register, to become informed on key issues, and to vote. The Church does not support or oppose any candidate, but seeks to focus attention on the moral and human dimensions of issues. We do not authorize the distribution of partisan political materials on parish property.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. On the subject of preaching, I have told my homiletics classes that if you feel compelled to preach about politics, deal with policies, not politicians. Avoid naming any candidate or party; doing so can be heard as an endorsement. As Pope Francis has written: “We have been called to form consciences, not replace them.” Ground your homily in timeless Church teaching. Quote encyclicals, popes, saints, documents, scripture, letters from the USCCB. Make sure your audience understands that this isn’t your opinion, but it’s the Church’s teaching. Don’t turn the pulpit into your own personal op-ed page.

I posted more on this subject some weeks back, and quoted a document from the Vatican. Read about it here.  

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