By John-Henry Westen

  WASHINGTON, DC, April 18, 2008 ( – At a Q&A session following Pope Benedict XVI’s Wednesday address to the Bishops of the United States, he addressed the “particular problem” of secularism in America.  While it allows profession of belief in God, it “can subtly reduce religious belief to a lowest common denominator,” he said.  Thus there is a separation “of faith from life: living ‘as if God did not exist’.”

  The Pope noted that rather than “thinking with the Church”, some Catholics believe they have “a right to pick and choose” in the faith, “maintaining external social bonds but without an integral, interior conversion to the law of Christ.”

“We have seen this emerge in an acute way in the scandal given by Catholics who promote an alleged right to abortion,” he lamented.

  It is this internal betrayal by Catholics that seems to most deeply distress the Holy Father. Besides the much publicized cases of sexual abuse by priests, and the proliferation of homosexuality within certain seminaries, the scandalous behavior of a majority of Catholics in political life also gives rise to the Pontiff’s deep sadness.  As he said in his homily at Nationals Park Thursday, the Church “senses, often painfully, the presence of division and polarization in her midst, as well as the troubling realization that many of the baptized, rather than acting as a spiritual leaven in the world, are inclined to embrace attitudes contrary to the truth of the Gospel.”

  At the Q&A session with the Bishops, again at the Wednesday Mass, and again in his address to the United Nations today, the Pope stressed as the solution to many of these problems the tie between faith and reason; “the intrinsic relationship between the Gospel and the natural law”; and the “sound understanding of freedom, seen in positive terms as a liberation both from the limitations of sin and for an authentic and fulfilling life.”