Then what happened is they co-opted all of the moral issues and called them political.
When this debate started heating up, the point of view was something like this: "You keep your religion to yourself. You keep religious issues inside your religious community. Leave politics to us. That's our turf. All right? So you stick with the values stuff, the morality stuff, the relationship stuff, the counseling stuff--the soft stuff. Keep that to yourself. We will do the hard work of politics." Then what happened is they co-opted all of the moral issues and called them political.
In other words, it was like all the moral things were for the church. Politics deals with the hard issues. Then they said, "By the way, this moral issue over here on homosexuality, that's ours. This moral issue on abortion, that's ours, too. Doctor-assisted suicide, hands off." They began co-opting all of the moral issues. They have taken everything out of the domain of private religion. In the Catholic community the Pope is vigorously applying moral principles and now they say, "You can't do that." Why? "Because it influences someone's public life. When you do that kind of thing, Pope, you are having an impact in the public square."
What they are saying is, You must have a faith that is silent to the outside world [and read here "real world"]. You must also have a faith that has no politically incorrect impact on the outside world. Another way of saying it is, If your faith has any relevancy whatsoever to real life, then you are out of line.
The irony is, those with religious concerns--particularly Christian religious concerns-- have been forcibly squeezed to the margins of the debate. They have been squeezed out of the debate, saying that it is illegitimate even to have opinions within your own community and talk about them if they influence the outside, secular, political community. In other words, You can't have a faith that is relevant. It must stay irrelevant, and then they fault Christianity because it is irrelevant. Well, it is not irrelevant at its heart. It is very relevant, but it has been silenced to a great degree through political pressure by people who make comments like this when the Pope talks about abortion.
There is an exception to this. If you campaign vigorously on religious grounds for politically correct ideologies--homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle, abortion on demand, the right to die--well, then you can speak in any public venue in the country--public schools, public places, on Capitol Hill. No hindrance. You might even get a government invitation. Rev. Jesse Jackson is an example of that. Nobody beefs about him being a reverend speaking up for political ideologies. Why not? Because he is campaigning for politically correct issues.
When did somebody say, "Listen, you religious people, you have to shut up if you are campaigning against capital punishment, or for religious pluralism, or for accepting of homosexuality. That is an inappropriate incursion of religious thought in public life." Have you ever heard anything like that before? "Religion is private. Politics is the public domain. Talk all you want about morals and ethics, but public policy is our domain."
Then what happened is they politicized all the moral issues, as I said, and they took that from us, too. What that leaves us with now that we can talk about is--virtually nothing. We can talk in private about our faith statements and about God and Jesus, but we can only do that if it doesn't make a difference. Pretty sorry, huh? That is where I think the Pope finds himself, and I know there are going to be more attacks coming out based on these proclamations of the recent encyclical.
Again, my hat is off to Pope John Paul and his moral courage to stand in the gap for these critical end-of-life issues, and that he is willing to speak plainly and defend these issues even in the face of tremendous opposition.