Can the Church Endorse a Candidate?

Republican ElephantOn a recent interview with CBS News correspondent Nora O’Donnell, Cardinal Timothy Dolan made reference to how he admires Pope Francis and what he intends to achieve for the Catholic Church.  Although it is unlikely the Catholic Church would ever anoint an American as Pope, many people feel Dolan would be a logical choice and could do the job.  One of the highlights of the interview is he gave a quasi-endorsement to Jeb Bush, should Jeb choose to run.

I must give a disclaimer that I am not an expert in the finer nuances that separate Catholism from other sects of Christianity other than those that get the most attention such as their stand on divorce.  So on Easter Sunday 2014, I am posing a question that I will only attempt to answer and hope it will satisfy both supporters and critics.  The question is: Did the cardinal violate the principle of separation of church and state by his “endorsement” of Jeb Bush for President?

First of all, cardinals and other high clergy are human beings just like the rest of us.  They are not immune to temptation and even if they make it to Sainthood, will still fall short of complete glorification of God and still need their commitment to the Lord and Savior if they want to go to Heaven.   Dolan spoke of how Jesus says we must forgive even our worst enemies and although he does, he finds it hard with some people.  Forgiving Adolph Hitler or Osama bin Laden?  I can see his point.  And we have all been victims on the local level of somebody doing something unforgivable to us.  But scripture clearly says if we do not forgive our enemies for their sins against us, we have no right to forgive God to forgive us for our sins (against others and against HIM).  So if a cardinal of the Catholic Church has difficulty with this fundamental principle in the Book of Matthew, imagine how it is for the rest of us.

Second, Cardinal Dolan is also in American citizen.  He is within his rights to have opinions although he may be restricted on acting on some of them.  Answering questions on an interview is merely taking the talk; not walking the walk.  Nobody will actually see the ballot he casts as he will not see ours.  However, God is watching when we are in that privacy booth with our ballot and I would hope we would all cast a vote for Godly candidates if there are any on the ballot.  Dante said in The Inferno, The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who remain neutral in troubled times…  The give his eminence credit for wanting to show up at the polls on Election Day and cast a vote for the candidate he thinks is best suited for solving the problems.

Finally, as I have said on many communications in the past, few Americans really know the true definition of separation of church and state.  Many people think it means religion and government are never supposed to cross paths.  That is as far from the truth as you can get.  If that were the case, why does every session of Congress start with a non-denominational prayer?  For those of you who missed it, Separation of Church and State is by definition the prohibition of any local, state, or the federal government to establish any one religion as the local, state, or national religion, because The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.  It does not in any way state that government at any level must operate devoid of religion or religious beliefs.  It is bad enough government is filled with believers who sin and who instigate sinful policies; the last thing anyone wants is for our towns, cities, states, and this great nation to be run by atheists.  Therefore, Cardinal Dolan did nothing wrong in expressing his opinions and stating Jeb Bush is his first choice for the next person to lead the secular government of the greatest nation God allowed to inhabit Planet Earth.  Just remember, when you are all alone in the privacy booth at your polling place, God is still watching you.

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