They've been dominating the news, haven't they? And they are prepared to go down screaming over contraception in health insurance plans handled between patient and insurer. Letters were read recently in every parish. They planned a campaign against any compromise for months.

But ask yourself: where were they on a much more fundamental cause for Catholics: universal healthcare? Were they anything like as vocal?

Where were they when the Bush administration was practizing and authorizing the torture and abuse and robbing of human dignity of terror suspects? The Pope never obliquely mentioned these categorical evils when visiting the US and cozying up to the war criminals in the Bush administration?

Where have they been on tackling climate change – a sacred obligation for Catholics according to the Pope they follow so fanatically?

Why so utterly fixated on sex, especially the sex lives of women and gay men? Why so utterly indifferent to the whole range of public policies which Catholic orthodoxy has strong views on?

I'm not saying they have said nothing on any of these issues. On the treatment of illegal immigrants, for example, they have stood up. I am saying they have said nothing remotely compared with this outcry, and rarely used rhetoric more reminiscent of the Newt Gingrich than, say, Pope John XXIII, as they have in this case?

They have become the Pharisees. And we need Jesus.