I think the language in this AFP article claiming that the new pope "intervened in the 2004 US election campaign" is pretty disingenuous. When then Cardinal Ratzinger ordered bishops to deny communion to abortion rights supporters he wasn't attempting to affect anything as mundane as the presidential election -- he was addressing a religious issue that was highlighted by the publicity of the political climate. The cardinal didn't change the Catholic Church's position on abortion, he merely pointed out that the existing position should be applied in a certain way within that particular extremely public context. There's nothing out of place about a religious leader teaching others about how his religion applies to practical, real-life situations. As I wrote in my earlier post: politics should stay out of religion, but religion has every right to get involved in politics.

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