Josh Marshall, again: I guess on one level we can say we've come a long way since 1960 when John F. Kennedy had to foreswear that he'd follow the instructions of the Pope in his decisions of governance. Today we have a Protestant born-again who tries to enlist the Pope to intervene in an American election.
Don't think it's that bad? Read this excerpt from the National Catholic Reporter:
During his June 4 visit, Bush asked the Vatican to push the American Catholic bishops to be more aggressive politically on family and life issues, especially a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
A Vatican official told NCR June 9 that in his meeting with Cardinal Angelo Sodano and other Vatican officials, Bush said, “Not all the American bishops are with me” on the cultural issues. The implication was that he hoped the Vatican would nudge them toward more explicit activism.
Other sources in the meeting said that while they could not recall the president’s exact words, he did pledge aggressive efforts on the cultural front, especially the battle against gay marriage, and asked for the Vatican’s help in encouraging the U.S. bishops to be more outspoken.
According to sources, Sodano did not respond to the request.
Sources say Bush made the remark after Sodano thanked him for his stand on the issues of family and life. They also said that while Bush was focusing primarily on the marriage question, he also had in mind other concerns such as abortion and stem cell research.
Bush supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and has urged Congress to take swift action. Since polls show that in several battleground states in the fall election a majority of voters is opposed to gay marriage, some Bush analysts think an aggressive push on the issue will help the president’s prospects.
Current IRS law forbids non-profit organizations from doing political campaigning, or else risk losing their tax-exempt status. I think Catholics out there who are already worried about declining donations during the sex-abuse scandal should be doubly worried if it becomes apparent that church leadership is following orders from Washington.