The question of the place of the Catholic priest in the sphere of politics came up on a social Q&A site called Quora. I am a contributor on this site. The question was
"Does the Vatican permit Catholic priests in the Philippines to comment about politics, state affairs or government policies?"
Given the political environment in which we are presently living, I answered the question pretty much as appears below. The changes that I make to accommodate the audience of this blog appear in red.
Politics are not out of bounds for Catholic priests. In many instances the priests are the bulwarks of political morality, not only in the Philippines but around the world. It is the conscientious duty of Catholic priests and other ministers and pastors to enlighten the faithful about the political situation in which we all live. The Vatican (Holy See) is more of a good example of what priests are expected to do in the world of politics than it is of a direct manager.
Priests are forbidden to run for and hold public office by the Catholic Church. That does not prohibit them from being honest, neutral brokers of actions taken for the public welfare in the public square. You only have to look to the Vatican itself for examples of that. In my lifetime alone we have the involvement of Pius XII during World War II; John XXIII about women's rights and Francis about the protection of the earth and then some. Priests are not only permitted to follow that example, it is expected of them. Bishops often lead the way. In our day we have seen the assasination of Bishop Romero of El Salvador because he dared oppose the repressive government. More recently we have Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio [now Pope Francis] at loggerheads with the president of Argentina. He also was instrumental in the rapprochement of Cuba and the USA.
I have an example. Some 2+ years ago, I was present in a “town hall meeting” where the local bishop (USA) was having a lively give and take with the flock (+/- 300 in attendance.) One person challenged the bishop with the question, “When are you going to stop being involved in politics?” The bishop shot back: “Never. Get used to it.”
Being involved in politics is an integral part of the ministry of the Church. So says I, bishop and either way the readers feel about it, it will be a good reason to not cry at my funeral.