From his website:
Presidential candidate Ted Cruz today announced endorsements from more than 50 Catholic leaders, including activists, public servants, pro-life advocates, clergy, and business leaders. Dr. Robert P. George and Ken Cuccinelli are co-chairs of the initiative, leading Cruz’s outreach in the Catholic community.
“The Catholic Church is an unwavering voice for life, marriage, and religious liberty,” said Cruz. “These three issues have been central to my campaign since the very beginning, and I have been proud to stand with Catholics in the fight to protect the dignity of every life, the sacrament of marriage, and the First Amendment right to religious liberty. In an age when the Obama administration has the audacity to sue the Little Sisters of the Poor, it has never been more critical to stand with those who have dedicated their lives to the service of the Church and its mission of loving the whole world. Especially in this Year of Mercy, we have an opportunity to protect the most vulnerable and safeguard the truth revealed through Scripture and the tradition of millennia.”
Dr. Robert George praised Cruz for his loyalty to the rule of law and the principles of a free society. “No one has been stronger than Ted in standing up for religious liberty and other fundamental constitutional freedoms. …He will foster a culture, from the top down, that honors the Constitution – the one thing that, despite our differences, binds us all together as Americans,” said Professor George.
“In addition to his exceptional Constitutional credentials, Ted Cruz is a candidate with specific foreign policy proposals to defend persecuted Christians abroad,” said Ken Cuccinelli. “At a time when people of faith are under severe attack internationally, we need a president whose foreign policy priorities will leverage America’s leadership to defend the defenseless.”
“I am very pleased to give my personal endorsement to Ted Cruz for President of the United States,” Monsignor Ed Lofton, Parish Priest at St. Theresa Catholic Church in South Carolina, said. “I have followed Ted’s time in office and know that he governs grounded in the essential value of protecting life and liberty for all peoples. I am confident that Ted has the intelligence and the will to lead our nation in a positive direction. The Church must not be silent as the nation chooses the leaders who will shape its future. I am personally working for the election of Ted Cruz, and I urge fellow Catholics to join me in giving Ted Cruz our support and our votes.”
I was a little surprised to see such a vocal and enthusiastic endorsement of a candidate by a Catholic priest. As I noted earlier this month, canon law and the USCCB have strict guidelines about what a member of clergy can do in the political arena:
Canon 285 directs that “clerics are to refrain completely from all those things which are unbecoming to their state, according to the prescripts of particular law.” The canon continues in §3: “Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power,” and §4 forbids clerics from “secular offices which entail an obligation of rendering accounts. . . .” Canon 287, §1 reminds all clerics that “most especially, [they] are always to foster the peace and harmony based on justice which are to be observed among people,” and §2 directs that “they are not to have an active part in political parties and in governing labor unions unless, in the judgment of competent ecclesiastical authority, the protection of the rights of the Church or the promotion of the common good requires it.”
The USCCB notes:
The Church does not and will not engage in partisan politics.
Pastors may wish to publish the following bulletin announcement in the weeks before the election.
We strongly urge all parishioners to register, to become informed on key issues, and to vote. The Church does not support or oppose any candidate, but seeks to focus attention on the moral and human dimensions of issues. We do not authorize the distribution of partisan political materials on parish property.
In order to avoid violating the political campaign activity prohibitions, parishes, other church organizations, and their representatives should remember these guidelines:
- Do not endorse or oppose candidates, political parties, or groups of candidates, or take any action that reasonably could be construed as endorsement or opposition.