The Role of Politics in Sermons: Does Incorporating Politics into Sermons Make Religious Leaders Politicians?
By Emmanuel Simon
Even with the Separation of Church and State, Religious Leaders have been tying politics into their sermons. But should this be happening? Before giving an answer, it is necessary to examine the similarities and differences between the Church and State.
It should be evident to everyone that the Church is not the State, and the State is not the Church. By virtue of the fact that the Church and State are not equivalent, it follows that there are some issues that the Church and State do not overlap on. For example, it would be strange for the Church to authoritatively declare that one needs to have a voter I.D. in order to vote. Yet though the Church and State are two different entities, they do share a common goal: to promote and achieve the common good.
For example, both the Church and State agree that taking the life away from someone unjustly is detestable. The Church shows that she is against unjust killings by appealing to the 5th Commandment, whereas the State indicates that she is against unjust killings through appealing to man-made laws backed up by philosophical justifications. Thus, though the Church and State differ, both aim at promoting and achieving the common-good.
So, what are we to make of Religious Leaders then? Should today’s Religious Leaders tie politics into their sermons? Given the contemporary political climate, the answer is a qualified yes.
On the one hand, Religious Leaders need to avoid becoming politicians, since the priestly ministry is supernatural, whereas contemporary politics is worldly. On the other hand, priests, who are ministers of the Church, have a duty in promoting the common good.
If the State finds itself steered away from its goal to uphold the common good, Religious Leaders are able to step in. In our day and age, we’ve seen Catholic Priest Fr. Kosco doing just that. During one of his homilies given earlier this year, he stated, “We’ve just recently elected a Catholic President who is diametrically opposed to all the basic moral principles that are proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church. Not only abortion and the sanctity of human life, but the sanctity of marriage…. How in the world did this happen?... You want an answer, I’ll tell you an answer. Because our Bishops have been silent for 60 years through bad catechesis and cowardice.”
Here, Fr. Kosco points out to his congregation the shortcomings of an America who chose to vote for a Catholic President who at best permits the death of innocent babies through abortion and who has an idea of marriage contrary to what faith and reason teach. However, Fr. Kosco also considers the shortcomings of some priests and Bishops in the Church, i.e. their silence through bad catechesis and cowardice. In short, Fr. Kosco’s homilies are meant to show that individuals in the Church and State need to do a better job at promoting the common good.
Since, the Church and State both aim towards the common good, it follows that Religious Leaders may incorporate politics into their sermons with the aim of teaching the faithful about the common good in light of their eternal reward.
Link to Fr. Kosco’s Homily:
Melanie Moyer '22,