The Catholic Church tries to conquer the hearts of some people by raising its voice on social issues such as housing and employment. In Italy, this move has been greated with appreciation by the moderate and extreme left wing parties. Here's a report.
But the political position of the Church remains deeply ambiguos: "The essential point is again made by Benedict XVI: from Jesus there comes “full respect for the distinction between, and independence of, what is Caesar’s and what belongs to God”. The Church has a “mediated” task while the “immediate” one falls to the lay faithful. Thus “if on the one hand it acknowledges it is not a political actor”, on the other “it cannot avoid taking an interest in the good of the entire civil community” by “forming in the political and entrepreneurial classes a genuine spirit of truth and honesty”.
In many ways, this position is not healthy at all in a secular democracy. The Church has the luxury of taking strong positions on very controversial issues without ever having to be accountable for them. In short, this is the worst form of demagogy.
Of course, it is very nice to say permanent jobs for everyone and housing for everyone. But unfortunately there is shortage. Political institutions make hard choices between job protection and enhancement of the market. But the problem is: if the job protection is too strong, then it wil be much more difficult to create new jobs. So what looks like a nice ideal, may turn out to be a damning precept.
What is worse is that the Church can say whatever it pleases anyhow it will never have to do the job. That is the reason why, the Church should truly and definetely concern itself only with spiritual matters. It can intervene, as it does, to improve social conditions on a daily basis. But it cannot engage in sweeping policy debates as this is totally outside of its realm, and makes hard choices even more unpalatable for governments which are already facing tough enough social dilemmas.