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Monday, May 18, 2009

Vatican on the Obama speech

This is (hopefully) my last Obama/Notre Dame post, I promise :) but I saw this short post by Fr. James Martin SJ at America magazine's blog, and thought it was worth noting ....


Vatican: Obama Sought "Common Ground"

Rather than editorializing, I'll just give you the entire story from CNS. There were two stories in the latest L'Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper. One praised him for seeking "common ground," the other quoted critics of the president. Here's the take from CNS. (H/t to David Gibson)

Vatican newspaper says Obama sought 'common ground' at Notre Dame

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican newspaper said U.S. President Barack Obama sought common ground on the divisive issue of abortion in his commencement address at the University of Notre Dame.

The newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, said the president also confirmed that pushing for a more liberal abortion law would not be a priority of his administration. The comments came in a L'Osservatore report May 18, the day after Obama spoke at the university in Indiana.

"The search for a common ground: This seems to be the path chosen by the president of the United States, Barack Obama, in facing the delicate question of abortion," the newspaper said.

It said Obama had set aside the "strident tone" of the 2008 political campaign on the abortion issue.

"Yesterday Obama confirmed what he expressed at his 100-day press conference at the White House, when he said that enacting a new law on abortion was not a priority of his administration," it said.

The newspaper, which was reporting on the Notre Dame commencement for the first time, acknowledged the controversy caused by the president's appearance at what it called "the most prestigious Catholic university in the United States."

"Yesterday, too, as could have been predicted, there were protests. But from the podium set up in the basketball arena, the president invited Americans of every faith and ideological conviction to 'work in common effort' to reduce the number of abortions," it said.

The newspaper noted that Obama had called for reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, facilitating adoption and supporting women who want to carry their babies to term, and that he had also spoken of drafting a "conscience clause" for medical personnel who are morally opposed to participating in abortions.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is enormous focus on the differences between progressive and conservative Catholics but scant attention to their remarkable style similarities. Surely a propensity to laud Vatican signals that agree with their team and deconstruct those that don't has to be among the most frequently observed.

As an Obama supporter and one who favors his invitation to Notre Dame, I like the Vatican take on this issue. But someone I doubt that the Vatican observers are as sanguine about abortion or as dismissive of prolife sensibiliies as the main stream media and, for that matter, of Catholics for Choice.

My take on the controversy, as posted at dotCommonweal:

I was hoping President Obama would cite the passage from ‘Audacity of Hope” about his exchange of views with the prolife physician. So powerful. So apt.

I wonder if the shrill voices on both sides of the Notre Dame controversy would agree with the President’s observation that *both* sides have demonized and caricatured the other. I suspect that the irenic tone he sounded resonates with many Catholics…but not many of the Catholics that have voice and have regularly opined on this controversy.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to read, “I (agreed/disagreed) with the invitation, but I can certainly understand why another Catholic might reach a different conclusion”? Or what about, “I’m conflicted about this matter and neither of the reflexive responses (’abortion restriction as sine qua non’ vs. ‘abortion restriction as impermissable criminalization’) works for me.”

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note quite sure how the comment above showed up as 'anonymous' since I'm registered on Google Blogger.

In any case, 'anonymous' is me.

Peace, Mike McG...

10:34 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Mike,

I know - I've been having trouble signing in as me at other bogs too - some new blogger gliche I guess.

Yeah, I agree that the Vatican is not in the pro-choice camp, despite the non-confrontationalVatican newspaper piece.

I saw your comment at dotCommonweal. It would be nice if both sides tried to see the other's pov. I think most people are somewhere in the middle on abortion but we only really hear the extremes most of the time. I read that some poll showed that about the same small percentage of people had opposite views - abortion with no restrictions, and no abortion at all - while most wanted abortion with restrictions to be legal.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

It's an honor to have the President of the USA speaking at the commencement of what is probably the premier Catholic university in America, and awarding a commencement speaker with an honorary degree, especially if it's the president, is just something you do out of common courtesy. What does an honorary degree mean anyway? Nothing, really. It's surprises me how many people who've long ago dismissed Notre Dame as apostate are so exercised over all this.

I didn't attend Notre Dame, although my wife attended St. Mary's across the street from there. I haven't been following this story as much as a lot of people have (compared to ND's floundering football program), the polemics are all too familiar, but here is a radio program that handled the issue better than anything I've heard on it so far. A sane conversation involving Scott Appleby, E.J. Dionne, and Helen Alvare that covers all the pertinent issues without the hysterical slanging that's been going back and forth out there.

6:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you know Crystal, I find equating the words of the pro-choice group with the words of the 'pro-life' group is most unfair to the former. Jack

7:38 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

I never really thought about Notre Dame before this and only knew of some of the Jesuit colleges. Mow I even know about Ave Maria University - now there's a college to argue about :)

11:34 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

That's quite a place. Even Joe Fessio SJ ran into issues at Ave Maria.

I was at the Catholic Men's Conference in Boston a few years ago. Jim Caviezel spoke, and so did Tom Monahan, who founded not only Ave Maria, but an actual town down there somewhere. Somebody wrote about it a week or too ago on dC. I'm sure you saw it.

Will that On-Point radio show play on your Mac? I'd be a pity if you couldn't listen to it.

11:50 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Yes, I tried it and it does work - haven't listened to ity all yet, though. Thanks.

Yes, I saw that dotcommonweal post on Ave Maria town. One thing about it that only I brought up, weird person that I am, is that there was a lot of controversy about the damage done to the environment and to the habitat of the endangered Florida panthar by its building. I restrained myself from comparing it to the Village of the Damned :)

12:59 PM  

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