CAN CATHOLIC POLITICIANS DISAGREE WITH THE CHURCH?….Blue Streak has an interesting post today: according to the Sacramento Bee, the bishop of Sacramento has publicly told Governor Gray Davis that he should stop taking communion unless he changes his liberal stance on abortion.

Just goes to show how much I know: I didn’t even realize Davis was Catholic. You learn something new every day.

The bishop’s newfound aggressiveness seems to have been partly prompted by a Vatican document released a couple of weeks ago telling Catholic politicians that they are obligated to follow church doctrine on a variety of topics, including abortion. As Jim Capozzola pointed out last week, the Vatican wasn’t really saying anything new, but they were trying to re-emphasize existing doctrine, and it seems to have hit home.

It’s hard to criticize the church on practical grounds since it considers this to be a purely moral issue, but it sure seems likely that it’s all going to backfire. A majority of American Catholics already reject Vatican teachings on a wide variety of subjects, and even if they didn’t church-state separation is a pretty touchy subject here. John F. Kennedy put the “he’ll be controlled by the Pope” argument to rest in 1960, and it doesn’t really seem like it will do the church any good to have it resurrected. What’s more, since it’s mostly Democrats who support abortion rights, the church is running the risk of seeming not just political, but of taking domestic political sides as well.

More to come on this, apparently, including an advertising campaign on the same subject over the next few months. Time will tell how it all plays out.