Something is seriously wrong at L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. When it wrote glowingly of President Obama's first 100 days in office, everyone scatched their heads and wondered "What's going on?"
The article stated there had been no radical changes in Obama's first 100 days -- "Obama does not seem to have confirmed the radical innovations that he had discussed."
There was no mention of the rescinding of the Mexico City Policy, the ending of the conscience protection for medical care workers, increased funding for abortion providers, pro-abortion appointments to key administration positions like the head of Health and Human Services. Most importantly, there was no mention of the widely-recognized White House strategy of approximating the effect of FOCA in a piecemeal fashion.
Yesterday OR published an article praising Obama at Notre Dame for seeking "common ground" on abortion. It's now clear that the paper needs a new editor. The article did not even mention the 79 U.S. bishops who openly criticized Notre Dame for giving Obama an honor at its recent commencement. One of those bishops was the president of the USCCB, Cardinal George of Chicago.
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"The search for common ground seems to be the road chosen by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, to confront the sensitive abortion issue," L’Osservatore Romano says.
And then this:
Strong polemics have marked the weeks following the invitation to President Obama made by (ND) President, Fr. John Jenkins. And also yesterday, as was completely predictable, demonstrations were not missing.
Completely predictable? Why? Perhaps, because President Obama is the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States and some Catholics found it offensive he was being honored by the best-known, best-loved Catholic University in the nation?
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OR does not delve into this point of view or quote from any of the bishops who expressed it.
The damage will be done by the Associated Press story being published around the country, giving the impression that the Vatican officially approves of both Notre Dame's decision and -- most tragically -- Obama's position on abortion.
OR has had a new editor since September 2007: Giovanni Maria Vian. Prior to his appointment at OR, Vian had been a professor of the philology of ancient Christian literature at Rome's "La Sapienza" University and a regular writer for the newspaper of the Italian Bishops' Conference.
What OR publishes should not be considered the official position of the Vatican unless it is published under the name of the appropriate Vatican archbishop or cardinal. However, it is certainly natural for the public to view anything published in the "Vatican" newspaper as having the blessing of the Curia and the Holy Father himself.
It should be mentioned, as the Catholic News Agency notes, that the same edition of OR contained an article criticizing Obama with quotes from Archbishop Chaput, which both the Associated Press and the USCCB"s news service did not mention.
Vian has already caused the Vatican to officially deny an article he published in OR about the need to reopen the Catholic position on brain death. In September 2008, the Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, S.J., stated the article in OR "cannot be considered a position of the magisterium of the Church."
We need Rev. Lombardi to make a similar statement regarding Vian's positioning of Obama as a president seeking "common ground" on abortion. Vian evidently does not realize that Obama's idea of seeking "common ground" is to hold a conference call with his 28-year old head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Joshua DuBois, and a handful of pro-life leaders to discuss the bogus promise of "abortion reduction."
If L'Osservatore Romano continues to treat Obama and his administration this way, the Catholic supporters of Obama will believe themselves completely vindicated, and understandably so.
I can only imagine how a good number of our bishops are feeling about OR and Giovanni Maria Vian this morning.
It is possible, of course, that Vian is simply misinformed. If so, that can be corrected, and Vian can begin publishing accurate information and commentary on the new administration. If not, the Vatican newspaper definitely needs new leadership.