Whether we are talking about Bishop Henry in Calgary, Pope Ratzinger's various declarations, or Bishops demanding "reviews" of a nation's laws on Abortion.
I do not for a moment wish to argue that being a member of the clergy means that one does not have a legitimate interest and voice in politics. Far from it.
However, the clergy enjoys a unique, and privileged position in many Western countries. We grant Churches exemption from taxation, a privilege granted to no group that acts as a political lobby. In a nation where no official religion is recognized, this privilege is extended to any organization that can describe itself as a "church". By definition, a church's clergy are privileged people - given unique access to a regular platform for influencing the views of a great many people.
To what extent should we grant clergy the right to use their position as influential public figures as a platform from which to engage in political activism? We've seen Bishop Henry in Calgary make some pretty awful statements in the past, and others have attempted to influence our politicians through what I have come to call "spiritual blackmail" - such as denying communion to a politician who doesn't legislate according to what the Church demands. (It is not the denial that is significant, it is the often public statement of that threat/punishment)
Churches are not neutral parties - and in fact they can be amazingly rigid and (by modern standards), bigoted. One example is the anti-semitic overtones of Catholic Tridentine Mass recently "reapproved" by the Pope should concern many in a society that claims that all people are equal.
The Latin, or Tridentine rite contains a prayer that is read on Good Friday calling for the conversion of Jews. The U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League has criticized Benedict's decision, calling it a "theological setback" and a "body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations."
The 16th-century mass is traditionally delivered by a priest in Latin with his back to the congregation throughout the service.
How lovely. In essence, we have a pope here who is approving the revival of a pattern of prayer that is politely described as hostile to another faith. Coming from this particular pope, I'm hardly surprised by that revelation, but I don't think it reflects anything positive either.
When religion can foster conflicts and grudges that are ages old, and we already grant Churches a significantly privileged status in our society, should we allow them a free voice, or perhaps it is time to start demanding to "follow the money", and whatever percentage of their resources that is spent on political lobby/activism becomes taxable just like any other political lobby. (For example, I would argue that Bishop Henry's "pastoral letters" of a couple of years ago, and the distribution thereof would represent political activism. The costs of that activism come out of Church coffers, and whatever that cost is becomes taxable income.