Should the Catholic Church be involved in politics? Isn’t it supposed to focus on God and getting to heaven?
The answer to the second question is yes, the Church is supposed to focus on God and getting to heaven. The answer to the first question is yes, the Church should be involved in politics, because the Church is supposed to focus on God and getting to heaven.
This may seem confusing if we think that politics and the mission of the Church are two separate things. But that is completely false. Often when we hear the demand, “keep politics out of the Church,” what we are really hearing is “keep God out of politics.”
To be clear, the Church does not teach that it should be the political power that rules our country. In fact, the Church does not allow clergy to run for political office. Nor can clergy command people to vote for a particular candidate.
This is because it is not the role of the Catholic hierarchy to identify with politicians or with partisan interests.
At the same time, in the words of Archbishop Charles Chaput:
[The Church] has every right—in fact an obligation—to engage secular authority and to challenge those wielding it to live the demands of justice. In this sense, the Catholic Church cannot stay, has never stayed, and never will stay “out of politics.” Politics involves the exercise of power. The use of power has moral content and human consequences. And the well-being and destiny of the human person is very much the concern, and the special competence, of the Christian community (Render Unto Caesar, Chaput, pg. 218).
For this reason, the Catholic Church serves as a teacher and guide for the holy people of God. She teaches nothing but the message of Jesus Christ, which belongs in every aspect of human life, including and especially politics.
Then the Catholic faithful, the laity worshiping at Mass, hear that message and prayerfully, courageously, and faithfully apply that message in public life, including the political process.
Jesus said in Mark 12:17, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Jesus made clear that His people are citizens of heaven and of earth.
As we pass through this time on earth, we are on our way to heaven. Our way to heaven is to help our brothers and sisters on earth.
And we Catholics help our brothers and sisters on earth by rendering unto our political process what belongs to it: our involvement, our influence, and our vote. And we render unto God what belongs to Him when we vote in order to keep God in politics.