As a citizen, I think one of the worst moments in recent political history was when John F, Kennedy promised a Texas audience that he'd keep his Catholic faith out of his public service. I think all Americans -- not just Catholics -- have been paying for that mistake for 40 years. It's one of the turning points in our community life where this unhealthy fracture between public behavior and personal belief began to grow.
I want my elected officials to inform their actions with their religious and moral beliefs, even if I don't agree with them. I want them to do it prudently and in a spirit of reasonable compromise -- but on the hard issues, I want them to act on their principles, because then I can respect them. I can't respect and I can't trust an elected official, or any other leader, who claims that he or she personally believes one thing, but then publicly does another -- whether the issue involves abortion or the death penalty or prescription medicines for the elderly or affordable housing for the poor.