Fr. John's Letter Archives

Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.


Pastors, Politics and Political parties

11-15-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Prior to the Election, many of you sent me homilies by various priests on this election. Some of them are well done. And as I said recently, that while I agree for the most part with Fr. Altman’s homily, I disagree with his statement that you can not be Catholic and Democratic. And for this reason, in our system party affiliation matters little in that you can vote for whoever you choose or not vote at all and there are good reasons some Catholics remain active in the Democratic Party: namely that they are trying to be the voice of dissent and move the party away from many of its extreme positions particularly on marriage and the family and on human life. That’s a legitimate way to engage the political process and try to change a Party’s platform that is increasing morally repugnant. (Unfortunately, the last prolife Democrat US Congressman Dan Lipinski (Illinois) was voted out this year.) The focus should be on a Party’s platform or principles rather than personalities. Another homily that some of you sent me was the one by Fr. Meeks. And while I agree with the substance of his words, I disagree that the Sunday homily is the place to give such a talk. Why?

For two reasons. First when you enter into discourse at Mass that deals with partisan issues it tends to lead to division. And our job as pastors is to keep the flock of Christ united, no easy task on a good day but especially difficult in these hard times. Some things are clear red lines that pastors have to warn their flock about regardless of political implications unless they go over a cliff. Other things are more prudential, requiring informing the flock of the principles they should use to make a decision.

I have been to parishes that lean far to the right politically and parishes that lean far to the left politically. For pastors of those parishes it is easy to preach a very political sermon, because they know most of their people will cheer, shout Amen and halleluiah. We are not one of those parishes. We are in Tempe, a University town that tilts to the left and we are also in Arizona that tilts to the right. So, by our very nature we are not monolithic, at least not politically. But the fact that we have a strong vibrant parish proves that it is Faith that is our focus, our common goal and the thing that despite the differences keeps us united under the Cross of Christ. And that is as it should be.

Secondly, as St. Paul says, our citizenship is in heaven. That is where our true allegiance lies. Our current earthly allegiances are temporary and are only meant to serve a greater purpose: namely to build up the Church on earth. Which means we put our faith not in princes or presidents but in Jesus Christ. And part of demonstrating our faith in Christ is our willingness to live by the principles of our faith and put them into action, even in the Voting Booth.

I’ve given you enough information that you can make a morally informed decision both through homilies and in my weekly letters. It’s not my job to make the decision for you but to inform you that our choices do have moral implications that make each person more or less virtuous. However, it is my job to make sure that come what may happen on a first Tuesday in November we are still all together on the following Sunday, united by the only thing that really matters in the end.

And finally, no matter how things turn out on with the 2020 Election, God’s purpose and plan will move forward if we are committed to His will. God has an uncanny ability to write straight with crooked lines and things work out despite our fears and apprehensions.

After Herod had James beheaded and Peter imprisoned, I am sure those first Christians thought things would turn out badly. Two weeks later Herod went up to Caesarea and some of the leading men came to him to ask his help as a famine was starting to break out. Herod sat on his outdoor throne, robed in gold and silver. And when the sun shone on him, he radiated. The people there exclaimed, this is no man but a god!

Right then and there Herod was struck with a terrible pain and had to be carried off. A few days later he was dead. I wonder what Peter thought when he heard that? Well actually we do know, Peter wrote about in a letter: After witnessing the power of God and the plan of God moving forward despite what had happened to James and to himself, Peter was confident enough to write these words: “Cast all your cares on Him because he cares for you. “

As the country experiences its 19th nervous breakdown of 2020 never forget those words.

Love,

Fr. John B

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