Faith, policy and reflections on the Pope’s visit

I am a long time fan of columnist Mike Gerson. He doesn’t know me, but I remember him from when he worked for then-Senator Dan Coates when I worked for social activist/conservative Bob Woodson. Gerson was writing Coates’ speeches, emerging as the best, bar none, conservative speechwriter on the Hill. He has always seemed to have come from a place of faith – centralizing themes of justice, mercy, and compassion. Back then (late 90s), it was the Renewal Alliance that brought voice to this on the Hill, when the term compassionate conservative was not tied to a man from Texas.
Because that team has been so overused and sullied (fairly or unfairly), I hesitate to use it now to describe myself – but can find few other adjectives that capture my approach to allowing my faith to dictate a position on public policy that seeks to catalyze forces of the market, private institutions, and the best of a restrained government to meet the needs of the least among us. I find some voice in my position this week – as Gerson reflects on Pope Benedict’s historic visit to Washington last week and his reminder to the U.S. of the church’s role in advocating for the weak, even amidst its own failings:
It is never an easy discussion to bring faith into public life and positions – as evidenced by the way the three presidential candidates tiptoe around things like their prayer life, their positions on abortion, their marriages. However, it is a necessary discussion and the Pope cuts to the chase, with a direct aim out our culture of relativism, reminding us (at least me) of the value of faith in informing our public positions…
E.J. Dionne, another incredibly thoughtful columnist who’s been writing on this “beat” well before Gerson, provides another view of this visit and how as a Catholic himself, it’s brought numerous issues to the surface. Says Dionne, “Benedict directly challenged an assumption so many Americans make about religion: that it is a matter of private devotion with few public implications.” Read on….