Montana bishop calls out priests who attended Trump rally wearing clerical attire

Montana bishop calls out priests who attended Trump rally wearing clerical attire
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A Roman Catholic bishop in Montana on Monday slammed a group of priests who attended President TrumpDonald John TrumpSupreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration Trump is failing on trade policy Trump holds call with Netanyahu to discuss possible US-Israel defense treaty MORE's rally in the state last week in their traditional clerical garb, saying that they should not have been wearing the official attire at a partisan event. 

"I was not aware that the priests observed at the Trump rally would be in attendance," Bishop Michael Warfel of the Great Falls-Billings diocese said in a letter posted on Facebook. "I was likely just as shocked as most to see that they were seated in a very prominent location in clerical attire behind the podium where the President would speak."

The Associated Press reports that four priests could be seen in the audience wearing wearing VIP badges during Trump's rally on Thursday, where he voiced his support for State Auditor Matt Rosendale, who is challenging Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterGOP Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at end of year Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 MORE (D-Mont.) in November.

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In the letter, Warfel acknowledges that two of the priests in attendance at the event are from his diocese. He noted that he has received apologies from both the priests, with them acknowledging that they should not have been in the clerical attire. The other two are from the Diocese of Helena.

Upon further review, Warfel also says that he did not see any of the priests react to disparaging comments that Trump made during the event. Among other things, Trump mocked Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenYoung insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Biden's debate performance renews questions of health On The Money: Democratic candidates lay into Trump on trade | China exempts US soybeans, pork from tariff hikes | Congress set to ignore Trump's wall request in stopgap measure MORE's (D-Mass.) heritage and the "Me Too" movement. 

The site of priests at the event influenced Warfel to update the diocese’s policy on political involvement, which says that “supporting or not supporting a particular candidate as a representative of the diocese is not permitted.”

The restriction is only aimed at partisan politics, according to the letter. The church will still have involvement in larger political issues.