Thursday, June 10, 2004

Bush at the Vatican

John Allen reports from Rome:

The official said that Bush’s meeting with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, and other senior officials dealt with Iraq and the Middle East, including the fate of Christian communities in both places, as well as Africa and religious liberty in China.

Without putting it in quite these terms, what this Vatican diplomat made crystal clear is that the Holy See does not want to be the ecclesiastical equivalent of France. That is, it does not want a reputation for knee-jerk anti-American sentiment, because if Vatican diplomacy is anything, it’s realistic. Realism in the present world situation means you either work with the Americans, or you sit on the sidelines.

That explains, for example, why Navarro went out of his way to play down the critical elements in the pope’s speech. Asked for comment, Navarro said the pope had extended Bush a warm welcome, which was the first line of the speech, and praised him for defense of the family, which came near the end. In effect, he glossed over everything in between.

Another high-ranking Vatican diplomat explained it to me this way several months ago. We want the Americans to succeed, he said, because for the issues we care about -- human dignity, religious liberty, the rule of law -- they’re the only game in town. Our concern is with means, not ends, and we’re trying to encourage America to be the best version of itself.


During his June 4 visit, Bush asked the Vatican to push the American Catholic bishops to be more aggressive politically on family and life issues, especially a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

A Vatican official told NCR June 9 that in his meeting with Cardinal Angelo Sodano and other Vatican officials, Bush said, “Not all the American bishops are with me” on the cultural issues. The implication was that he hoped the Vatican would nudge them toward more explicit activism.

Other sources in the meeting said that while they could not recall the president’s exact words, he did pledge aggressive efforts on the cultural front, especially the battle against gay marriage, and asked for the Vatican’s help in encouraging the U.S. bishops to be more outspoken.

According to sources, Sodano did not respond to the request.

Sources say Bush made the remark after Sodano thanked him for his stand on the issues of family and life. They also said that while Bush was focusing primarily on the marriage question, he also had in mind other concerns such as abortion and stem cell research.

Bush supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and has urged Congress to take swift action. Since polls show that in several battleground states in the fall election a majority of voters is opposed to gay marriage, some Bush analysts think an aggressive push on the issue will help the president’s prospects.

Again interesting. What bishops are not with Bush on the cultural issues. Could this be about denying communion to pro-abort Catholic politicians. Hmmm.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think this is acceptable? Do you think the President of the United States should be trying to tell the Pope what to tell his Bishops? You and I both know this was an attempt to get these Bishops to tell the Priests to talk about it in the pulpit. Is this what America has come to? How can you defend this?

If you want to vote for Bush, fine. Can't you at least speak out against what he tried to do? Can't you?

12:03 PM  

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