Pope and President on Abortion
By Jacqueline L. Salmon
One take on the Obama-Benedict XVI visit this afternoon: "astonishing," from Stephen Schneck, director of the Life Cycle Institute at Catholic University.
Several things stood out to Schneck. One, the language around abortion. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters after he was briefed by the pope that "Obama told the pope of his commitment to reduce the number of abortions and of his attention and respect for the positions of the Catholic Church."
But Obama's people have repeatedly stressed that Obama is committed to reducing the "need" for abortions, not the number. Big difference there for a lot of people.
Second, Obama's assurance to the pope that he would read the Vatican document on bioethics, presented to the pope, on the plane to Africa. "Dignitas Personae" (dignity of a person) condemns abortion, artificial fertilization and embryonic stem-cell research.
"He sure seems to signal to the Vatican that they are going to attend and listen" on these issues, said Schneck.
It was a far different picture of Obama's relationship with Catholics than before his speech/honorary degree at the University of Notre Dame commencement, when more than 60 bishops wrote letters objecting to the event and Catholic protesters turned the area around Notre Dame into a circus.
"What a long way we have come in two months," said Schneck. He predicts we'll see a "pragmatic, businesslike and cordial" relationship between the Vatican and Obama--unlike relations between Obama and some American Catholics.
Posted by: GaryPernice | July 12, 2009 7:04 PM
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