Clergy who attended Trump Montana rally apologize for ‘any misunderstanding or any hurt their presence caused…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) A Roman Catholic bishop excoriated four priests who attended a Trump rally in Helena, Montana, displaying VIP badges while sitting prominently behind the president, the Associated Press reported.
Catholic bishops did not, however, criticize Pope Francis’s support for climate-change regulations or open-border immigration policies.
They also did not condemn Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest who marched in Chicago last weekend to advocate for more restrictions on gun ownership.
Bishop Michael William Warfel of the Great Falls-Billings diocese said, “While they are free to support a political candidate — and I believe they were there in support of Matt Rosendale, who is running for the Senate seat from Montana — they should not have been attired in clerical garb and seated in such a prominent location.”
Father Garrett Nelson and Father Ryan Erlenbush, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, and Father Kevin Christofferson and Father Christopher Lebsock, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena, attended the event.
They were criticized for clapping when President Donald Trump criticized the #MeToo movement and referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, as “Pocahontas.”
While Warfel said they should not support candidates as members of the diocese, the Montana Catholic Conference issued a stronger rebuke of political participation in 2011:
“Religious leaders should avoid taking positions on candidates or participating in political party matters even while acting in their individual capacity,” the Independent Record reported. “Although not prohibited, it may be difficult to separate their personal activity from their public role as a Church leader.”
The priests in attendance said they did not know they were going to sit in such a distinguished position.
Warfel said Nelson and Erlenbush apologized for “any misunderstanding or any hurt their presence caused.”