I was about to write a post along just these lines, but Andrew Sullivan beat me to the punch. I think this is exactly right:
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?
Over the years, I have had many, many conversations with progressive Catholics who defend the bishops by arguing that they are saying things about torture, poverty and inequality, immigration, and climate change, but that the press only listens when they talk about sex. I think the hierarchy's reaction to the contraception rule definitively refutes that blame-the-media theory. What this episode demonstrates is that the bishops know exactly how to crank the volume up to 11 in a concerted effort to get media attention when they want to. The fact that, for many years now, they have not done so in as unified a way for any issue not related to sex speaks volumes about where the hierarchy's real priorities lie.