While visiting Julia Sweeney’s site, I found her link to a Salon.com article called “Holy Warriors” by Sydney Blumenthal that discusses the conservative alliance between the White House and Vatican that could help shift the tides against the separation of church and state in the U.S.
Seems that during the 2004 Presidential election campaign, pope-to-be Ratzinger responded to Bush's request for Vatican support on his pro-life agenda by mailing out a missive:
"...Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sent a letter to the U.S. bishops, pronouncing that those Catholics who were pro-choice on abortion were committing a 'grave sin' and must be denied Communion. He pointedly mentioned 'the case of a Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws'--an obvious reference to John Kerry, the Democratic candidate and a Roman Catholic. If such a Catholic politician sought Communion, Ratzinger wrote, priests must be ordered to 'refuse to distribute it.' Any Catholic who voted for this 'Catholic politician,' he continued, 'would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion.' During the closing weeks of the campaign, a pastoral letter was read from pulpits in Catholic churches repeating the ominous suggestion of excommunication. Voting for the Democrat was nothing less than consorting with the forces of Satan, collaboration with 'evil.'
"In 2004 Bush increased his margin of Catholic support by 6 points from the 2000 election, rising from 46 to 52 percent. Without this shift, Kerry would have had a popular majority of a million votes. Three states--Ohio, Iowa and New Mexico--moved into Bush's column on the votes of the Catholic "faithful." Even with his atmospherics of terrorism and Sept. 11, Bush required the benediction of the Holy See as his saving grace. The key to his kingdom was turned by Cardinal Ratzinger."
Additional excerpts from article regarding the separation of church and state issue:
“But now Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay threatens the federal judiciary, saying, ‘The reason the judiciary has been able to impose a separation of church and state that's nowhere in the Constitution is that Congress didn't stop them.’ And Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will participate through a telecast in a rally on April 24 in which he will say that Democrats who refuse to rubber-stamp Bush's judicial nominees and uphold the filibuster are ‘against people of faith.’”
“The American Revolution, the Virginia Statute on Religious Liberty, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights were fought for explicitly to uproot the traces in American soil of ecclesiastical power in government, which the Founders to a man regarded with horror, revulsion and foreboding.”
“What did [John F.] Kennedy say? ‘I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference... I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials.’”