Priests for Life, Legal Advice, and Catholic
On our own initiative, we would like to review for you a few key points about
our approach to legal matters, especially in the area of political activity, as
this election season continues to intensify.
Priests for Life has always advised Catholic institutions and dioceses to
follow the advice of their own legal counsel. That is why, from the time our
website was started, we have always placed a link on it to the
guidelines offered by the Office of the General Counsel of the USCCB
regarding political activity. Our approach on this point remains the same.
Those same guidelines issued through the USCCB state, in regard to specific
activities, that "other Catholic organizations should contact their own legal
advisors." That, too, is exactly what we have done.
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that attorneys differ in their
interpretation of the law. If attorneys of one organization differ with those of
another, our approach is simple: We follow the advice of our attorneys, just as
we expect other organizations to follow the advice of theirs.
We also expect that attorneys on all sides will not overstate the case and
make it appear as though an interpretation of law is equivalent to dogma. It is
not. Nor does the dissemination of educational material regarding such diverse
interpretations constitute legal advice.
Priests for Life is an educational and pastoral association. We do not offer
legal advice. We do, however, disseminate information in the spirit of free
discussion, inquiry, and healthy debate. We believe that people and groups
within the Church should be free to examine and discuss openly the reasons for
different interpretations of laws, particularly when those laws affect the
mission of the Church, to which we are all committed.
It should also be noted that we do not produce any voter guides, candidate
questionnaires, scorecards, or partisan materials. Moreover, we do not (and
cannot by law) endorse any candidates for public office.
-- Fr. Frank Pavone