Tim – All good points. But isn’t there something else missing? I may be remembering this entirely wrong, but I thought the Pope’s order for Drinan to resign from electoral politics was of a piece with JP II’s similar orders elsewhere, particularly South America. In other words, it wasn’t all about Drinan or even America. The Pope wanted to get priests to stop being politicians.
As an outsider it’s always seemed one of the sillier obsessions of American liberals, particularly liberal Catholics, that they think the Catholic Church is all about abortion and that moderates and conservatives in the Church fall on different sides of the abortion issue. One small anecdote: when I was producing the PBS show Think Tank, we had several programs on the Pope and/or the Church and we’d bring in liberal Catholic scholars and even priests, and they were all pro-life and their “liberalism” viz-a-viz the Church really had next to nothing to do with the abortion issue.