Q. 1. What is the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding priests holding public offices? Are they allowed to do so? Can they be a member of a political party in power?
A. 1. According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, clerics are not allowed to hold public office whenever it means sharing in the exercise of civil power.
On this matter, the Code of Canon Law states:
Can. 285 §1. "Clerics are to refrain completely from all those things which are unbecoming to their state, according to the prescripts of particular law.
§2. Clerics are to avoid those things which, although not unbecoming, are nevertheless foreign to the clerical state.
§3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.
§4. Without the permission of their ordinary, they are not to take on the management of goods belonging to lay persons or secular offices which entail an obligation of rendering accounts. They are prohibited from giving surety even with their own goods without consultation with their proper ordinary. They also are to refrain from signing promissory notes, namely, those through which they assume an obligation to make payment on demand.
Can. 287 §2. They are not to have an active part in political parties and in governing labor unions unless, in the judgment of competent ecclesiastical authority, the protection of the rights of the Church or the promotion of the common good requires it."
This position provides assurance that no priest shall belong to a government party that promotes or implements policies such as abortion, adoption by homosexuals, same sex marriage, or any other practices that opposes the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Canon 288 states that deacons are not bound by the aforementioned Canon Laws:
Can. 288 "The prescripts of cann. 284, 285, §§3 and 4, 286, and 287, §2 do not bind permanent deacons unless particular law establishes otherwise."