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BRAINTREE — Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley issued a statement Aug. 27 regarding political statements made by those who represent the archdiocese following controversial social media post by a local priest.
“The Catholic community has the right to expect the priests of the Archdiocese and those entrusted with handing on the faith to be clear and unequivocal on the Church’s teaching concerning respect and protection for life from the first moment of conception to natural death. This teaching is of the highest priority for the Church,” Cardinal O’Malley said.
He said that individuals who minister or serve in the archdiocese, as well as parishes and organizations directed related to the archdiocese, “may not endorse or oppose candidates for election or political parties.”
The statement came days after Msgr. Paul Garrity, pastor of Lexington Catholic Community, publicly endorsed Catholic Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who supports abortion. However, the cardinal’s statement does not directly reference Msgr. Garrity or his remarks.
Msgr. Garrity authored an Aug. 23 Facebook post that has since been deleted entitled, “I am pro-life and support Joe Biden.” In it, he emphasized his belief that women should have the “right” or “freedom” to “choose life.”
“I am pro-life and I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I will vote for Joe Biden for president because I believe that Joe Biden is pro-life like me. I believe that any woman who becomes pregnant should have the right to choose to give birth to her baby,” Msgr. Garrity said in his post.
He listed the different physical, emotional, and social needs of mothers and said he believes they need “comprehensive support” in pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing.
“I am pro-life and I believe that every woman who becomes pregnant deserves to have the freedom to choose life. This is what I believe Joe Biden believes and is one of the many reasons that I will vote for him in November. I believe that Catholics and others who believe as I believe should elect Joe Biden to be the next president of the United States of America’s, a country that has the resources to provide hope and a future for all babies. The beauty of newborn babies are a reflection of the beauty and goodness of God and should propel us to do all that we can to help expectant mothers to choose life,” he said.
In an Aug. 25 statement to Catholic News Agency, Msgr. Garrity that he believes it is “a tragedy when a woman of any age decides to end her pregnancy prematurely.”
CAN also reported that he said Catholics “are also told that we should not be ‘single issue’ voters,” an apparent reference to “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” the United States Council of Catholic Bishops’ teaching document on the political responsibilities of Catholics.
However, in its entirety, paragraph 42 of “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” reads, “As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet if a candidate’s position on a single issue promotes an intrinsically evil act, such as legal abortion, redefining marriage in a way that denies its essential meaning, or racist behavior, a voter may legitimately disqualify a candidate from receiving support.”
In his statement, Cardinal O’Malley spoke about the teaching role of the Church, as well as the obligations of the Catholic faithful. The cardinal also called voting “the basic obligation of a democracy.”
“We are called to bring the light of faith and reason to our civic responsibilities as we strive to build a civilization of love,” Cardinal O’Malley said.
Just hours after the cardinal’s statement was released, Msgr. Garrity issued an apology on his Facebook page.
“Please accept my apology for the confusion and upset caused by the Facebook post concerning the presidential election and expectant woman carrying their children to birth. I am totally against legalized abortion. I am committed to upholding Church teaching regarding the sanctity of life from the moment of conception until natural death,” Msgr. Garrity said in his Aug. 27 post.
Msgr Garrity continued, “I was not prepared for the uncharitable responses that I am receiving from this post. The last thing that I would ever want to do is to hurt anyone with my words. Peace and Blessings to all!”
Following is the full text of Cardinal O’Malley’s statement:
The Catholic community has the right to expect the priests of the Archdiocese and those entrusted with handing on the faith to be clear and unequivocal on the Church’s teaching concerning respect and protection for life from the first moment of conception to natural death. This teaching is of the highest priority for the Church.
With regard to statements of the clergy and religious and laity who minister or serve in the Archdiocese of Boston, following the guidance of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as representatives of the Archdiocese they may not endorse or oppose candidates for election or political parties. This directive also applies to parishes and organizations directly connected to the Archdiocese.
The teaching role of the Catholic Church brings religious and moral principles to the life of our society, our Commonwealth, and our nation. Our advocacy addresses protection of human life at all stages and in all circumstances, including issues of social and economic equality, the pervasive influence of systemic racism and welcoming immigrants and refugees.
Catholics are urged to play an active role in our public life and to fulfill the basic obligation of a democracy, to vote. We are called to bring the light of faith and reason to our civic responsibilities as we strive to build a civilization of love.