Catholic Priests have a legitimate right to participate and get involved in Politics. Here are some of the reasons why they should take part in the politics of the land. We will elaborate on the different themes in due course.
We priests cannot afford to allow ourselves be coerced, intimidated or forced to shy or stay away from the “world” of politics; this is so because, by our vocation, mandate and mission, politics is one such “world” to which Christ commissions His Church and ministers to evangelize, to preach to, to spiritually and morally direct. How can a priest afford to keep quiet when things are politically going wrong, when his priestly intervention can get things politically better?
Below are fundamental reasons (authority and justification) of our proportionate involvement in the political matters or affairs of our people and nation.
Foundations of our Priestly Involvement in Politics
1. By our Divine-Christological Constitution
As priests, kings and prophets in the image and likeness of Christ, as in imitation and obedience to Him — configured to being and doing like the Master in appropriate involvement in rendering our priestly ministries of preaching, teaching, direction, correction, sanitization, sensitization, conscientization, criticism, exhortation and encouragement to politics.
NB: Biblical authority, example and guide: cf Mk 16.18-19; Mt 28:15; more refs. In the Gospels and other NT writings how Jesus, His apostles and disciples of the early Church were involved in politics of their days. Seek out also examples in the OT.
2. By our Ecclesiastical Constitution
By the biblical-informed and inspired theological teachings and practices of the Church through history and in her magisterial documents. Cf Vatican II: Gaudium et Spes no. 76 ç 3, 5; CCL nos. 273 §2, 278, social teachings and acts of the Church, Popes, Bishops, theologians; see Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Politics.
3. By our Natural Constitution
All human beings, including priests, are by nature political.
4. By our National Constitution
As bonafide citizens of our nation who have the constitutional right and responsibility to participate in our nation’s politics.
NB: Politics is not a dirty game, and if dirty, healing and reconciliation is part of our priestly ministry which we have to offer to the world (persons and institutions) of politics in order to clean it up and contribute to build a better society for our people, and to realize the building of God’s kingdom among the people of our nation.
Some Ideas on How We Priests Can Be Involved in Politics
1. By taking interest and being well-informed about political issues through official Church, government, media, party sources; by being convinced and committed.
2. By being non-partisan or by not taking active or playing direct role in party politics (political party) or being a card-carrying member of a party. For good reasons, the Church prohibits priests from party politics; cf CCL 285, 287.
3. By not accepting any form of gratification, bribery, inducement, etc., from political parties and party politicians.
4. By not being politically ignorant, timid, intimidated, apathetic, indifferent, but rather courageous and strong, upright and forthright in political matters.
5. By being impersonal, objective and impartial in dealing with political issues.
6. By catechesis on political issues: (a) civic duties, good leadership and good followership, (b) rule of law, (c) electoral process, (d)good governance, (e) human rights, criteria for evaluating political candidates (template), (g,)prayer for political matters.
7. Finally prayer for political matters (like Prayer for Nigeria in Distress, Prayer against Bribery and Corruption, Prayer for Upright Voting, Accurate Counting and Impartial Announcement of Election Results in Nigeria, etc.