Pope Benedict XVI surprised many when he broke with precedent to congratulate President-Elect Obama on the day after his election victory instead of waiting until the inauguration, as is customary. Obama expressed his gratitude.
It was a warm beginning … to what kind of relationship? The Washington Post asks that question today, via a Religion News Service article.
The article helpfully sums up the story so far, but doesn’t offer much new. It suggests that Obama and the Holy See will be allies on questions of peace, but so far only the Holy Father is speaking about Gaza (see below).
Cardinal Pio Laghi, Rome’s Washington man from 1980-1990 (and again before the Iraq war), is quoted stressing that between Obama and Benedict: “There are many points on which there will be agreement.”
What might those be?
The Nov. 5 telegram that Benedict sent to Obama, noted the “historic” nature of his victory and assured him of his prayers that God would ”sustain you and the beloved American people in your efforts … to build a world of peace, solidarity and justice.”
But Francis X. Rocca’s article begins, “In the 24 years since the United States and the Holy See established full diplomatic ties, relations have never been closer or warmer than during the administration of President Bush,” who met with the two popes six times, and broke with them significantly only on Iraq.
The relationship with Obama might not be as warm.
Rocca notes that the Vatican can maintain an “above the fray” relationship with the Holy Father that U.S. bishops can’t.
“Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the church should ‘rejoice’ in the election of the country’s first African American president, but insisted that it would confront Obama over abortion and stem-cell research.”
Vatican Cardinal James Francis Stafford, former archbishop of Denver, sees in Obama “an agenda and vision that are aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic.” (Adds Rocca: “Stafford, who as head of a Vatican court is one of the highest-ranking Americans at the Holy See, noted that he spoke only on his own behalf.”)
The article notes that the major concern is the Freedom of Choice Act, which Obama promised would be his first priority as president. The legislation is a federal attack on the unborn, stripping the right to life from infants nationwide from conception to partial-birth, regardless of state restrictions.
Obama has never rescinded his July 2007 promise to Planned Parenthood that signing FOCA would be his first act as president.
The Register traced the executive orders Obama will likely issue right away to start using more of your tax dollars to end lives.
— Tom Hoopes