Priests for Life is warning that James Salt and Chris Korzen from the pro-Obama organization Catholics United sent a blast email on Thursday offering instructions on how to prevent pro-life Catholics from distributing electoral guides near Catholic parishes around the country. Fr. Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, has also pointed out that the Catholics United plan could have negative legal consequences.
In a message sent from the email address [email protected] under the subject "Help Protect Catholic Churches from Political Manipulation," James Salt and Chris Korzen say that with less than a week to go until Election Day, things are getting ugly. “In a final act of desperation, the religious far right is calling on its activists to defy the U.S. Catholic Bishops' order to keep unapproved election materials from church property by doing a 'literature drop' at parishes across the country. The goal of this activity is to convince Catholics that it's immoral to vote for candidates who don't subscribe to the right's narrow agenda."
The email goes on to warn that last Monday, "the partisan group Priests for Life held a teleseminar to train some 3,300 activists nationwide on how to place divisive political literature on the windshield of every churchgoing Catholic's car this Saturday and Sunday."
Salt and Korsen then announce that Catholics United is "spearheading an effort to put the brakes on the religious right's plans in as many parishes as possible," and is asking followers to "call your pastor and encourage him to instruct the ushers to monitor the church parking lot during the worship service."
They also promise to provide "detailed information on how you can protect churches in your neighborhood."
"The extreme right will stop at nothing to distort church teaching for political gain. It's time to say that enough is enough. Catholics are tired of our faith being used as a political weapon," concludes the email of the pro-Obama organization.
On Friday, Fr. Frank Pavone, President of Priests for Life, emailed James Salt and Chris Korzen. "I don't know if you attempted to speak with me before sending this out, but we would welcome such an approach in the future," Fr. Pavone wrote.
"Please inform those to whom you communicate that they might also want to alert their pastors that a large number of people are ready to file lawsuits against any individual or institution who tries to intimidate or prevent citizens from fostering the electoral process or informing their fellow citizens about the candidates," the priest warned.
Fr. Pavone explained that while "Priests for Life" is not initiating any such activity, "many people have told us they are ready to do so depending on what happens this weekend."
"Pastors and dioceses –he added- want to avoid 'legal entanglements,' and the activity you recommend here will get them entangled far faster than mine will."
"Obviously, an email like the one you sent below would implicate you in such entanglements as well," Fr. Pavone said in reference to the group’s email.
Finally, Fr. Pavone thanked Korzen and Salt for the extra publicity, and asked them to "be sure to register for the November 5 teleseminar as well."
Speaking to CNA, Fr. Pavone said that he devoted a significant part of the homily he preached this Friday on EWTN to urge Catholics to get out and distribute literature in the parking lots of parishes. "I encouraged them to do so especially this weekend, which obviously will be decisive for the outcome of the elections," he told CNA.
CNA attempted to get reaction from Chris Korzen but was unable to before press time.