DENVER — As clergy involvement in politics stirs debate, Roman Catholic priests and deacons in the Denver Archdiocese are being instructed not to endorse or donate money to political candidates.

The directive came from Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, one of the nation's most outspoken Catholic bishops in expressing the need for Catholics to follow their faith in making political decisions.

Published in the archdiocesan newspaper, the directive states that clerics "may not publicly participate or endorse political campaigns or initiatives, or publicly affiliate themselves with groups whose primary purpose is to do so."

Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Chaput wants to give clergy guidance ahead of the 2008 election and wasn't responding to any particular activity by priests or deacons.

She said the directive only affects partisan political activity and said that clergy still have a duty to speak out on moral issues such as abortion or immigration.

In May, a Chicago priest, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pledged not to do any campaigning or publicly mention any candidate by name after making derisive comments about Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton. Chicago Cardinal Francis George said the comments were "partisan and amount to a personal attack."

Republican Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, meantime, has disowned endorsements from two high-profile evangelical pastors for their controversial comments about other religions.