Tim Drake is an award-winning writer and former journalist and radio host with the National Catholic Register/EWTN. He currently serves as New Evangelization Coordinator for the Holdingford Area Catholic Community in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. He resides with his wife and five children in St. Joseph, Minn.
The buzz on the Internet seems to be interested in what questions were asked of the president at his meeting with members of the Catholic press and who asked them.
Given the press’ recent grilling of White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, it should be known that the questions were not prepackaged.
Here’s a rundown on who asked what ...
Joe Feuerherd of the National Catholic Reporter, who was sitting on the president’s right, asked the first question.
He asked, “Outside of your partisan political opponents — the Republicans — there’s one group that has also been critical of you in perhaps harsh ways — a number of American U.S. bishops. Is there a point where if you keep getting hammered by the leaders of the American Catholic Church that you write them off as opposition and try to take another approach?”
They then went around the table. Father Drew Christiansen of America magazine asked the second question. He asked, “What progress would you like to report to the Holy Father on meeting the needs of the poor as a result of the [G8] L’Aquila conference?”
Patricia Zapor with Catholic News Service asked, “Can you talk a little bit about where you see the boundary lines between what — how much the government can limit what happens according to people’s consciences?”
Paul Baumann of Commonweal asked, “What are your realistic hopes for the group [seeking common ground on the abortion issue]?”
Father Owen Kearns, publisher of the National Catholic Register, quoted the president’s Cairo speech, where he said, ‘We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretense of liberalism,’ and wondered if that message was applicable to everyone in the administration, given the examples [e.g. Harry Knox] of language used by some who has been hostile to the faith of Catholics.
Dan Connors of Catholic Digest asked, “Do you feel sometimes that you’ve been dragged into a longtime family feud among Catholics, liberal and conservative, and these splits that existed before you came to office?”
Jacqueline Salmon of The Washington Post asked if the president has chosen a home church and if he feels any pressure to join a predominantly African-American church.
The final question, asked by Elena Molinari from Avvenire/Vatican Radio, was: “How does your administration plan to recount those objections and to restart negotiations [between Israel and the Palestinians] on the two-state track?” You can find a link to the Avvenire interview. It seems to include one additional question about Italian security forces in Afghanistan.