MINNEAPOLIS (ChurchMilitant.com) - The head of the St. Paul and Minneapolis archdiocese is requesting that his clerics refrain from voting in the presidential primary on Tuesday.
Archbishop Bernard Hebda is urging priests and deacons of the archdiocese not to vote in Minnesota's "closed" primary on Super Tuesday, stating privacy concerns.
"Minnesota's presidential primary is a 'closed' party nominating primary, meaning it is open only to people who align with the party," said Hebda in an e-mail to his clerics. "One has to attest that one agrees with a party's principles to vote in the party primary."
In the e-mail, the archbishop warned that the public may find out which party his priests support.
"That information (though not one's voting choice) is given to the head of each of the major political parties (four total), and though it is considered private data by the state, nothing prevents party affiliation from being made public," noted Hebda.
Local media were informed that the archbishop was only requesting — not mandating — that his priests and deacons abstain from voting.
Church Militant reached out to a theologian and former seminary professor to get his take on Hebda's request. The priest, who wished to remain anonymous, said the archbishop should be far more concerned about the morality of clerics supporting pro-abortion Democrats rather than privacy issues.
"Hebda should be advising all his priests to not vote Democrat in the March primary, because the Democratic party's entire platform runs against the Faith and Church teaching, and not because if a priest should do so, he will be caught for supporting with his vote the Party of Death and socialism," he said.
The archbishop made it clear, however, that clergy weren't barred from voting in elections based on the tax-exempt status of the Catholic Church.
"To be clear, there is no tax prohibition on clergy voting in primaries, as clergy can endorse candidates in their individual capacities," Hebda affirmed. "But the possibility that the data may become public should discourage clergy from participating."
"This upcoming fall election is working up to be one of the most contentious and critical ever for us as a nation and yet you are advising your priests to bow out entirely," he remarked. "You should advise all your priests to vote Republican and to vote for Trump."
Minnesota's Democratic-controlled House of Representatives took immediate action to remedy the privacy concern. House Democrats on Wednesday passed a measure that would restrict the public from gaining access to data detailing the party each voter had registered with.
"We have heard from Minnesotans that they're a little concerned about going to vote in a primary where it will be recorded which ballot they pick up," said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. "So we have moved very quickly to get a measure to the House floor to protect voter privacy."
But it seems the Republican-controlled Senate may not follow suit and change the law until after this voting cycle is concluded. The head of the Minnesota Republican Party, Jennifer Carnahan, has stated that she is opposed to making any changes to the rule now that voting has begun.