Msgr. James Lisante’s Prayerful Endorsement

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jun 5, 2008 | Categories: Politics

The charismatic  Rev. James Lisante, a religion commentator for Fox News Network and pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in West Hempstead, Long Island, came under fire for endorsing presidential candidate John McCain during his invocation at a Republican fund raiser.   “One final thing, Lord, I promise,” said Lisante, dressed in his clerical collar, “this November could you keep an eye on all of us and see that the change that we embrace comes from Arizona and not Illinois?lisante1c.jpg

He also made disparaging comments about Barack Obama, including him for criticizing him for failing to distance himself from his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr.

Lisante acknowledged that while he supports McCain, his endorsement came at the wrong moment. “In hindsight I would have separated out the invocation, the prayer, from my commentary.”

“I do not as a priest forfit my right as a citizen to a point of view, even when it comes to standing by a particular candidate,” he said.

Some church experts and fellow priests said Lisante went over the line with his endorsement. They said church tradition and practice prohibits priests from endorsing candidates and parties, although the church can be and is active in pursuing causes that align with Gospel values.

“U.S. bishops have been pretty strong in saying their clergy should stay away from partisan politics,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, former editor of the Jesuit weekly magazine, America.   “It’s OK to talk about issues. But to get into endorsing candidates crosses the line in terms of church practice.”

I am not a member of St. Thomas the Apostle, so I can’t say if the Democractic parishioners are uncomfortable with Msgr. Lisante.   I hope he’s warm and kind  and evenhanded with everyone, regardless of their  point of view on  U.S. politics and candidates for office. If not, then there’s a pastoral problem.

I agree with him 100%  that he has a right to express  his own point of view. But a media-savvy priest like Msgr. Lisante should know better to be careful when praying for Republican candidates  (only)  at a podium, pulpit, or anyplace where it can be recorded and splashed all over the internet.  

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One Response to “Msgr. James Lisante’s Prayerful Endorsement”

  1. Kevina Says:

    Good post.

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