From Deacon Walter Ayres, director of the Diocese of Albany’s Commission on Peace and Justice, in The Evangelist newspaper:

The COVID-19 virus has taken over the news space lately, followed closely by the political rhetoric about who should be blamed for its origin, transmission and treatment. That makes this an opportune time to talk about the Church’s role in politics.

As Pope Francis teaches, citing the Magisterium of the Church, “If indeed the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics,” the Church, “cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 183)

Yet while the Church must be political, it should not be partisan. That is a fine point that is lost on many Americans.

Today, neither Republicans nor Democrats represent the breadth of Catholic social teaching, despite the efforts of some to have us all fall in line behind one political platform or another. As a bumper sticker from many years ago so aptly stated, “God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat.”

So while the Church tends to look at Republicans for support on our positions on abortion and school choice, it usually is Democrats who support us on such matters as immigration and climate change.

That is just one reason that as the Church involves itself in efforts to promote good public policy, it does not endorse candidates or promote political parties.

On the other hand, individual Catholics are free to engage in such partisan activities as running for office, campaigning for favored candidates and contributing to political campaigns. In fact, the Church encourages such efforts.

Unfortunately, politics today can devolve into a cacophony of sound bites and partisan attacks: Internet memes replace thoughtful discussion and name-calling pushes out reasoned discourse.

Read the rest.