By Deacon David Montgomery
In response to a Letter to the Editor published Sept. 13 in the Quad-City Times, Deacon Art Donart, a retired deacon of the Davenport Diocese, identified himself as an ordained deacon of the Catholic Church. He entered the political arena by supporting a specific candidate and speaking against another candidate. He also spoke on matters of faith and morals in ways that are clearly contrary to Catholic teaching.
As an ordained member of the clergy, he is not to publish in the area of faith and morals without prior approval from the bishop. The diocesan policy “Political Responsibility Do’s and Don’ts” clearly states that Catholic parishes, schools and other entities of the Diocese of Davenport must not engage in partisan politics at any level.
In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue; and participation in political life is a moral obligation. We can help parishioners learn and take to heart the moral and social teachings of the Church. However, the Church does not endorse nor oppose candidates or a particular political party.
Canon 287 in the Code of Canon Law states that “Most especially, clerics are always to foster that peace and harmony based on justice which is to be observed among all persons” (§1). “Clerics are not to have an active role in political parties and in the direction of labor unions unless the need to protect the rights of the Church or to promote the common good requires it in the judgment of the competent ecclesiastical authority” (§2).
“The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons” states that “A permanent deacon may not present his name for election to any public office or in any other general election, or accept a nomination or an appointment to public office, without the prior written permission of the diocesan bishop. A permanent deacon may not actively and publicly participate in another’s political campaign without the prior written permission of the diocesan bishop” (91).
Furthermore, Canon 209 states that “The Christian faithful are bound by an obligation, even in their own patterns of activity, always to maintain communion with the Church” (§1). “They are to fulfill with great diligence the duties which they owe to the universal Church and to the particular church to which they belong according to the prescriptions of law” (§2).
(Deacon David Montgomery is director of communication and the diaconate for the Diocese of Davenport.)