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Are parishioners able to distribute legislative information in their parishes? When is it okay to conduct politically related activities on church property?

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The California Catholic Conference of Bishops has prepared instruction on political advocacy for use by Catholic clergy and parishioners.

In a 2013 reflection entitled Pray for Politicians that They Govern Us Well, Pope Francis, wrote:

“We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader[s] can govern.”

Along those same lines, in 2007 the U. S. Catholic Bishops wrote in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship saying:

“Some question whether it is appropriate for the Church to play a role in political life. However, the obligation to teach about moral values that should shape our lives, including our public lives, is central to the mission given to the Church by Jesus Christ…The Catholic community brings important assets to the political dialogue about our nation’s future.”

Download an English or Spanish brochure that describes acceptable activities such as voter registration guides and issue-oriented forums.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops also provides a 43-page Political Activity and Lobby Guidelines for Catholic Parishes (http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/upload/USCCB-PACI-Guide-2015.pdf).

Pastors and parish leaders should read both these documents, consult with local diocesan legal counsel and appropriate diocesan/state conference leadership before determining what kind of activity might occur at their parish.

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