In his 2006 Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI wrote:
Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential task which every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this cannot be the Church's immediate responsibility. Yet...the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically. - Deus Caritas Est, No. 28,Pope Benedict XVI, 2006
Amplifying this thought, 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. - No's 9-12, U. S. Catholic Bishops, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
Catholic Social Teaching
The principles of Catholic social teaching should be the moral framework from which we address all issues in the political arena. Among those principles are:
- The life and dignity of the human person,
- Human rights and responsibilities,
- The call to family and community,
- The dignity of work and the rights of workers,
- The preferential option for those who are poor and vulnerable
- Solidarity, and
- Care for God’s creation.
Guidelines for Advocacy and Political Action
While it is increasingly accepted that major public issues have moral dimensions and that religious values have public consequences, there is often confusion and controversy over the participation of religious individuals and groups in public life.
Following are some practical guidelines for pastors and parishes on advocacy and political action which will clarify what is allowed on an individual basis and an institutional basis. Since these are only guidelines, each (arch) diocese, (arch) diocesan agency and parish, in consultation with its bishop, remains free to make its own determination as to what activities are proper for its personnel and committees.