Re: Is there a conflict between being spiritual and being political?
To your original points, BARTOLOME CASAS, and the title of this thread;
I think the two choices you have given are overly simplistic and not the only choices. I will give you an example.
My position in politics is this. Because I know that whatever "system" that is put in place will always be corrupted eventually by people within it, the best system that could possibly happen would be the maximization of freedom, regardless if that state is secular in nature, atheist, agnostic, Protestant or Catholic. That is to say, the most limited government possible, while doing its proper job of enforcing that baseline morality of Natural Law on which all laws are based.
Essentially, that is what America was founded to be. The constitutional structures are all still in place but America has ignored them for about 100 years and is moving rapidly toward secular authoritarianism to be followed naturally by totalitarianism. History shows us this pattern. So even the great experiment can be, and has been corrupted. What is the political party today that most closely represents the political philosophy upon which America was founded? Probably the Libertarians.
Why the maximum of freedom? (I notice you list pursuit of freedom with pursuit of sex and money. Interesting.) Quite simply, the maximizing of freedom from government allows us the maximum opportunity to do just what you ascribe to the "Spiritual Catholics" without having to look over our shoulder to see if the government approves. We can do what the Church has always done, preach the gospel, take care of the poor and the sick and never worry about the government trying to coerce us into doing anything against our conscience.
Somewhere along the way, many Catholics have bought into the idea that the government is there to do what is properly the role of the Church, a role which we have handled quite well over the centuries on the whole.
If the government was doing only what it is supposed to be doing, I guarantee there would be a lot fewer "political Catholics" because there would be no point to it. The government would be so out of everyone's life that it would be easy to forget that it was even there. Catholics of all kinds would have more time and money to get down to the real business of being Catholics, living and spreading the gospel.
Even if, by some miracle, America could be re-set to be a free nation once more, it would only be a matter of time before it was corrupted again. Still, for whatever time and space of freedom that would be afforded, it is worth political action and advocacy while the possibility still exists. In a few years on the current trajectory it will be too late. Some think it is already too late.
But in any case, politics or political action is, for me, only a means to an end, never an end in itself. And truth be told, it is a huge time waster, although necessary while there are those that seek to control our lives and our faith.
If "ifs" and "buts" were candies and nuts we would all have a very merry Christmas.