Ever Notice How Any Catholic Who Supports a Dem Candidate is Always "Devout"?
If you are actually devout, you will never call yourself devout. You're too busy living life to go around reminding everybody you are "devout". If you are not devout, but trying to coax a vote out of somebody, you will use the word "devout"about yourself. You may also follow it up with stern declarations about the Primacy of Conscience allowing you to do whatever the hell you like, such as ""My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic church by Pius XXIII and Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II!" That way, you can be John Kerry and be pious while telling the Magisterium to go hell. If you are not Catholic, and you are trying to sell yourself to Catholics, you will describe as "devout" any supporter who is a carbon-based life form with a pulse that shows up in Church now and then because, well, that's the AP style manual term for "Catholics who have been to Mass sometime in the past couple of years who support abortion, gay marriage, and like to talk about being green."
So, for instance, it turns out Michael Moore is a "devout Catholic" despite the fact that he holds much of the Church's teaching in contempt. Mia Farrow? "Devout Catholic." James Carroll? "Devout Catholic". Andy Warhol? Devout. Garry Wills? Devout. Nancy Pelosi? Devout. Kevin Smith? Devout.
Now, I'm not making any claims about the state of the souls of any of these folks. What do I know? I'm, rather, making claims about the cliche-ridden state of American journalists whom no mortal power can restrain from sticking the adjective "devout" in front of "Catholic". I'm sick of journalism where Catholics are all "devout" and busses are perpetually "plunging".
UPDATE: Shea fleshes this out a bit more in this article.