A Cautious Man
May 07, 2009
"News From The Home Office"
Related to the post right below, I wonder if the clerics criticizing Notre Dame are now going to have to start arguing that the Vatican's newspaper isn't "Catholic" enough? Via E.J. Dionne, who writes -

We now know that the reaction of right-wing Catholics to Notre Dame's invitation to President Obama falls into the category of "more Catholic than the pope."

To the dismay of many conservatives, the Vatican's own newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, has offered what one antiabortion Catholic blog called "a surprisingly positive assessment of the new president's approach to life issues" -- so positive, in fact, that a spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee was moved to criticize Pope Benedict XVI's daily.

The Vatican newspaper offered its analysis as Catholic liberals and conservatives are battling fiercely over Notre Dame's decision to invite the president as this year's commencement speaker and to grant him an honorary degree. The article will strengthen the liberal claim that the Catholic right's over-the-top response is rooted at least as much in Republican and conservative politics as in concern over the abortion question.

The April 29 essay by Giuseppe Fiorentino, L'Osservatore's frequent foreign affairs contributor, painted Obama as a moderate on many fronts. "Some have accused him of practicing excessive statism," Fiorentino wrote, "if not even of making the country drift toward socialism." But "a calmer analysis," he said, suggests that Obama "has moved with caution." (I rely here on a translation of the article posted yesterday on the Vatican's official Web site.)

That translation is here at the Vatican's website. It's a lot more "fair and balanced" than your average Fox News coverage of the Presidency. For example, while the essay notes differences with the President's approach to abortion rights, it also approvingly notes other legislative initiatives: "Moreover, a definite cause for surprise was the presentation of a law designed by the Democratic party: the Pregnant Women Support Act, aimed at limiting the number of abortions in the U.S. through initiatives to assist pregnant women. While not a negation of the doctrine that Obama has conveyed up to this point regarding abortion, this legislative project could represent a rebalancing in favour of motherhood."

Mr. Dionne's column concludes on a cautionary note -

And so when Obama rises to speak at Notre Dame on May 17, the stakes will be highest for moderate and liberal Catholics who insist the president is seeking common ground on the moment's most contentious ethical issues. It is likely to be his most consequential intervention in the debate over religion's role in American politics. In accepting the invitation, Obama has assumed a large responsibility that he should not try to escape.



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