President Obama insults the Holy See
It transpires that there is something of a stand-off between The White House and The Vatican. Traditionally (that is since 1984), the US Ambassador to the Holy See has been i) Roman Catholic and ii) anti-abortion (or ‘pro-life’). President Obama has suggested three names to the Holy See (including that of Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F Kennedy), all of whom fulfil criterion ‘i’ but none of whom meet person specification ‘ii’ – they are all ‘pro-choice’.
One would think the President might have learnt that this is non-negotiable. When attempts were made to install ‘pro-choice’ Professor Douglas Kmiec as US Ambassador to the Vatican, an official from the Vatican's Secretary of State department did not wait for the stony ground to gradually extinguish the green shoots of compromise, preferring Weedol to do the job in hours.
The Kennedy clan adheres to its own version of Catholicism. Locally, their churches benefit from the Kennedy coffers. Local priests apparently do not object to their decidedly anti-Catholic and very public support of abortion. No doubt about it, money talks when you are a Kennedy. But the Pope sees things rather differently. The Vatican has a slight problem with ‘politicians who describe themselves as Catholic’ and who refuse to ‘act accordingly’. Archbishop Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican’s Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, has referred to the Democratic Party as ‘a party of death’ and has fiercely criticised Vice President Biden for misrepresenting Church teaching on abortion. The Archbishop has no time for those who ‘while presenting themselves as good Catholics, have presented Church doctrine on abortion in a false and tendentious way’.
It is unthinkable that Pope Benedict XVI (or indeed any pope) might accept an ambassador who supported infanticide, especially when it includes the grotesque ‘live birth abortion’ much favoured by President Obama. Yet it is equally unthinkable that the President of the United States of America should be dictated to by ‘religious extremists’ with ‘entrenched attitudes’ which are ‘out of step with public opinion’.
After all, President Obama won an election with a majority of US Roman Catholics supporting him. As we know, his views 'echo the Pope's teachings', and his Vice President, Joe Biden, is a loyal and faithful Catholic.
The impasse threatens to cloud the President’s meeting with the Pope during the G8 summit in Italy in July. Perhaps the President should engage the mediatory diplomatic services of His Holiness Tony Blair. If anyone can find a ‘Third Way’ between ‘Semper Eadem’ and ‘Anything Goes’, it is he.