Kathryn Lopez

The PovertyCure website (povertycure.org) gives you a sense of the approach, which is to do what every good teacher does: unleash potential. Rudy Carrasco, a Christian minister, explains: "Everybody has capacity, talent, and ability. Everybody has responsibility ... You have a responsibility to be a steward of the resources under your control because you have a heavenly Father who has put great things inside of you and that's waiting to be called out and developed and extracted."

I'd like to think that the nuns on the bus would be encouraged.

For all too long, we've tolerated insulting public conversations about moral responsibilities in economic life. Something similar has been happening in the religious-freedom debate over the Department of Health and Human Services' abortion-coverage mandate and other federal threats to conscience, where one side tries to drown out serious concerns with cries of "war on women," and other shallow obfuscations.

Sirico writes in his new book, "Defending the Free Market": "Freedom without a moral orientation has no guiding star. On the other hand, when a people surrenders (its) freedom to the government -- the freedom to make moral, economic, religious, and social choices and then take personal responsibility for the consequences -- virtue tends to waste away and faith itself grows cold."

The nuns on the bus may not be cheerleaders for the bishops, but their road trip can be viewed as an important accompaniment. Fundamentally, this debate we're having regarding God and Caesar is about much more than a presidential election: It's about who we are as a people and whether we merely tolerate or actually welcome religious believers as economic and political participants. The sisters and the bishops are on the same page, there.

Any social and media discourse treating religion respectfully should be cause for thanks -- for without freedom, no one's got a prayer.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.