Pope Francis urges bishops to teach Catholics discernment on voting and politics

24 January 2020
Pope Francis talks with clerics during a meeting with U.S. bishops from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican Jan. 20, 2020. Image: America Magazine/CNS/Vatican Media.


Sometimes the political choices people face can seem like a choice between supporting a “snake” or supporting a “dragon,” but Pope Francis told a group of U.S. bishops their job is to step back from partisan politics and help their faithful discern based on values, said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

Meeting the bishops of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas on January 20, Pope Francis mentioned how, in an election, “you sometimes seem to be caught, you know, are you going to vote in one sense for a snake or you going to vote for a dragon?” Cardinal DiNardo said.

The pope’s advice to the bishops was “teach your people discernment by you stepping back from the sheer politics of it” and focus on the values at stake, Cardinal DiNardo told Catholic News Service. “If you try to step back and say, ‘but here are the major moral issues that we face,’ that’s what is most important.”

The region’s 26 bishops, including auxiliaries and retired bishops, spent about two-and-a-half hours talking with Pope Francis in English and Spanish. The pope responded in Italian so his aide could translate the responses into English.

Pope Francis also encouraged the bishops to be pastors, in a real sense, spending time with their faithful “not just at confirmations and on the big feast days,” he said. The pope said, “The people have a nose for the deep reality of the church, and that is that where the bishop is, there is the church.”

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With thanks to America Magazine, Catholic News Service (CNS) and contributors Cindy Wooden, Carol Glatz and Junno Arocho Esteves, where this article originally appeared.


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