Friday, July 10, 2009

Obama to meet with Pope Benedict – Expect Head of State Meeting – Not the Scolding Pelosi Received.

The Associated Pressreported that Obama will meet with Pope Benedict today, noting the White House “expects "frank" but constructive talks in President Barack Obama's meeting Friday with Pope Benedict XVI—two men who share similar views on helping the poor and pushing for Middle East peace but disagree on abortion and stem cell research.” The article speaks to the President’s visit to Notre Dame in conjunction with “Catholic Activists”, a term that connotes a rebellious faction of the Church, one whereby the views of a “few” are “radical” in opposition to abortion and stem cell research. One would think that the views held by so-called “Catholic Activists” would be the same view as those held by any practicing Catholic – first and foremost the sanctity of life.

There will be no question that the two will meet as heads of state rather than on a theological level – unlike the meeting with Pelosi, who publicly proclaims herself a “practicing Catholic” while openly supporting abortion, Obama is not a Catholic and therefore, his views on that subject, are not germane to the meeting. Simply put, there is no significant relationship between the two men, other than as leaders of a “nation”.
On the other hand, the White House will, undoubtedly, use the meeting as a way to boost Catholic approval – Catholics, as a voting bloc, have the ability to influence elections – Obama received the majority of Catholic votes in the last election – this is where religion and politics part ways – Catholics, as a group, are mostly aligned with the Democrat Party and have been for decades, that said, in the 2004 elections the Catholic vote went to George Bush, rather than John Kerry, who is a “practicing Catholic”, along Pelosi lines. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how the White House plays the meeting between the two leaders, and whether or not, the “message” will be directed at Catholics in general. Also, any “message” from the White House may be similar in content to those released by Pelosi when she returned from her visit, one which neglected to mention that the Pope was not pleased with her stance on abortion, and reiterated the Church’s policy on that subject to the Democratic Speaker of the House, in no uncertain terms.

The reason for a positive message for U.S. Catholics may lie in the 2010 General Election, where states such as Ohio, where the President's brand has suffered in the past month in the polls, may need a positive "Catholic" boost in order to stay within the ranks of the Party and not hand over contested seats to the Republicans. One has to believe, that in this instance and with this economy, the vote will go to the Party that is least offensive, making that particular move - moot.


Of interest, the Catholic News Agency had one article regarding today’s visit, entitled: “Vatican announces Pope 'available' for Obama visit”. The article goes on to state the following:

The afternoon meeting between Obama and the Pope is out of the ordinary, since the Pontiff usually meets with heads of state at midday.
To be sure, the Catholic Church vigorously disagrees with President Obama on abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and same-sex “marriage,” but the announcement shows that Pope Benedict wishes to engage the new U.S. president.


Additionally there is no news of the impending visit in the Vatican’s Weekly Newspaper one which the AP article notes is friendly to the Obama administration, in so much as the paper gave his first 100 days in office a good grade, further that on ethical issues, Obama had not taken a radical direction. There is a possibility that something got lost in the translation, or that those writing for the Vatican press, have more of a “world” view than traditional Catholic View – or they neglected to notice that the Pope took exception when Obama reversed a decision by George Bush his fist week in office, by allowing US funding of abortions overseas.

Comparing news on the visit: – The Catholic News Agency and the Vatican’s L’Osseratore Romano Hint: try the English version linked here, the search the Italian language version, using a good web translator: Suggestion: Systran.

In all it will undoubtedly be a visit of two heads of state and the issues will focus on the world’s poor, and the ongoing struggle for peacee in the Middle East - two very safe topics.

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