A couple of weeks ago, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a rabidly pro-abortion Catholic, sent a letter to Pope Francis — signed by 93 of her House Democratic colleagues — that urged him to focus on certain topics when he addressed Congress Sept. 24. And they were not content to have him speak in general terms about concerns like economic justice or the environment. They wanted him to advance specific items on their agenda, like paid sick leave, a higher minimum wage, and climate change. Nowhere, of course, did they express openness to what he may have said on marriage, family or the sanctity of life. Indeed, if he addressed any of these issues from the House rostrum, we surely would have heard these same voices caterwauling about separation of church and state.
Speaking of which, Americans United for Separation of Church and State warned cities who hosted the papal visit to respect church-state separation. We didn’t hear them rebuke DeLauro and company. Although this was not the first time she sought to involve religious leaders in her political causes — she once urged Cardinal Timothy Dolan to mobilize the U.S. Bishops behind her anti-poverty agenda — she has received a 100 percent rating from Americans United. Why? Because their criteria primarily oppose religious voices exerting influence on public policies. No problem, apparently, for government officials to use their offices to try to influence religion or religious leaders.
Interestingly, there was no similar correspondence to the pope from Congressional Republicans — so often accused, by political opponents as well as groups like Americans United, of trying to use religion to their political advantage.