There's talk, and then there's talk. Every time Nancy Pelosi goes into a closed-door huddle with AIPAC, she comes out with a glassy stare, zombie-like, mumbling “must support Israel at all costs... must support Israel at all costs...” But a closed-door huddle with the pope? Well, that's just, you know, politics -- “diplomacy”, in fact, where no one ever says, or admits, what they are really thinking or intending to do about anything. Back when the Vatican had real political power, Pelosi might have walked out with a Writ of Excommunication in her trembling hand... but as it is, I'm sure she's feeling totally unscathed – triumphant, in fact, since she fancies she has “spoken truth to power”, which is that the American people believe in abortion... they _need_ abortion... they _want_ abortion... she can't get re-elected without abortion... and what business is it of the Church anyway? The fact that said Church doesn't sue her for false advertising for continuing to call herself Catholic is a reflection of something – the long-suffering of the Church and the pope for certain, but also its helplessness in the face of rampant secularism and materialism world-wide. It's ironic that one of the current strongholds of Christianity in the world is Africa, which is a basket case in every other respect, and who knows, maybe that's the reason they've continued to embrace spiritual values – because they see that materialism is, ultimately, an empty promise. But one has to hand it to Pope Benedict. He continues to speak the _real_ truth to the real, if ephemeral, power – as in this case. All the Church has left on its side is moral authority, and it has no way of enforcing it. No one is forced to submit, which means that the true moral test is here at last. There are no political advantages to be had by confessing the Christian faith, particularly the Catholic faith; in fact, there are plenty of disadvantages. So the mere act of doing so, in a non-hypocritical, i.e. non-Pelosi-esque, manner is a sign of moral strength and a willingness to be counter-cultural. There is only a handful of our politicians on the national level who do not fail miserably at this. The question of whether they should be excommunicated comes up from time to time – mostly during election campaigns – but nothing is ever done. In the case of the American church, this may have to do with patience and long-suffering, but more likely it's due to plain cowardice. A few bishops have put our pro-abort politicians on notice that they are not to expect to receive Communion in their diocese, or from their hand. Fair enough, but those bishops are in a small minority, and are easy for the media to characterize as “extremists”. The vast majority go along to get along – the way so many Catholic authorities did in places like Slovakia during World War II. But by doing so they trade their birthright for a mess of pottage.
But the pope and the Magisterium are not infected by this disease of political correctness and materialism. May they never be!