The culture wars are getting hotter. ”Social issues” will remain key issues in the next couple election cycles in these USA, which will probably cause a couple train-wrecks for Catholics and for libertarians… and even for Catholic Tea Party members. On that point, the great Samuel Gregg has a new book coming out (pre-order HERE) which I am reading in an advance copy.
So… we track back to priest and bishops being involved in politics. Whenever a priest or a bishop enunciates clearly and accurately a teaching of the Church which would bring any sound Catholic to shun certain candidates, those priests and bishops are accused of being political, of “imposing their views”, or of “interfering”.
It was with great interest that I read about a priest in Rhode Island, Fr. Brian Sistare.
At RI Future I read this (my emphases and comments):
Priest to legislators: I will campaign against you from church [Let's see if that is actually what the priest did.]
By Bob Plain
A Catholic priest is said to have sent an email to legislators who voted for same sex marriage threatening to use his bully pulpit as a church leader to get them unelected. [Note reporter's choice of vocabulary.]
“I’m praying for each of you, that you turn back to God,” said an email purportedly from Father Brian Sistare, who is now the priest at Sacred Heart in Woonsocket. “I’m also going to let my Parish know exactly how you voted, so come re-election time, you will not be re-elected.”
As non-profit entities, churches are legally forbidden from engaging in political campaign activity. [Is what Father did "political activity"?]
The email was sent to the 26 state senators who voted for marriage equality and was signed and seemingly [Is the reporter purposely "hedging"? Of is this a way of associating what the priest did? Think about how newsies, for legal reasons, will say "alleged murderer", for legal reasons. But that commonplace reference now might have a broader rhetorical use. Just sayin'...] sent by Sistare. Sistare, who was a priest at St. Rocco Church in Johnston at the time, did not return a call for comment earlier this week to RI Future and has since declined to comment to other media outlets as well.
Sistare is said to have told married gay parishoners that he would not serve them communion [The writer is ignorant of how Catholics phrase things. Shouldn't they do at least a little homework?] unless they ended their marriages. Divorce is considered a sin to devout Catholics but the church does have an annulment process. [How many things are wrong in this paragraph? First, there is no distinction about "marriage". The writer simply asserts that the "gay" parishoners are "married", and that they should end their "marriages". I guess we are talking about civil "marriages", for if it were even possible that there could be such a thing as a "gay marriage" in the Church, then how could there be "gay marriage divorce"? This is getting surreal, real fast.]
Here’s the full email sent to state senators:
Dear RI Senators who voted for “marriage” between members of the same sex,
Yesterday was a very sad day for our little state of Rhode Island. I’m still shocked that each of you took it upon yourself to take the place of God and redefine what He has established. Marriage has always been understood as the union between one man and one woman. This is a 5,000 year old fact! I’m wondering what you will do when a mother comes to you and asks to be married to her son, or a cousin wants to marry her first cousin, or when a man wants to marry 2 or 3 women, or a human being wants to marry his animal? [Or several animals... or several underage animals?] What will you do, now that you have decided that Marriage is no longer a sacred union between one man and one woman?
For those of you Senators who are baptized Catholics, I invite you to go to the Sacrament of Confession to receive God’s Mercy and Forgiveness for your grave sin of voting against God yesterday, so you’ll be able to receive Holy Communion again in the Catholic Church. ["Invite"... not so threatening.]
For those of you who claim to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, I also invite you to repentance in your own faith tradition; and to those who claim no religious affiliation, I pray that you also see the error of your ways.
Your decision yesterday will have a lot of consequences on those of us who hold God’s definition of Marriage between one man and one woman. Already my Pastor from my hometown of Westerly is being accused by a confirmed lesbian [I think "confirmed" here means something like "self-avowed".], of violating the tax exempt status of the Catholic Church for telling his parishioners to contact Senator Algiere about his upcoming vote [There is nothing wrong, in itself, with telling people to be politically involved.] – unfortunately, Senator Algiere, you betrayed your own Catholic Faith and your constituents in voting for sodomy yesterday. Also, my little niece Giana was coming out of school the other day when her fellow 4 year old classmate remarked to her that 2 women could marry. Thankfully, my niece told the little boy the TRUTH that this isn’t the case, that Marriage is only between one man and one woman.
I’m praying for each of you, that you turn back to God. I’m also going to let my Parish know exactly how you voted, so come re-election time, you will not be re-elected. [He doesn't say that he will tell them not to vote for X. He says that he will tell them how X voted. As a consequence, well-formed Catholics would on their own choose not to vote for that candidate without being told how to vote. Right?]
St. Rocco Church
Fr. Sistare isn’t afraid to speak up.
At the top of the news piece, the claim was made in the headline: “Priest to legislators: I will campaign against you from church”
Is that what Fr. Sistare did?