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About time....

At last, someone with creds has come forward and brought the OR problem out in the open - far more than George Neuumayr did in Catholc World Report two weeks ago.

Deal Hudson (born 1949) is an American conservative political activist - a former Baptist who converted to Catholicism in 1984. He is currently the Director of Operations at InsideCatholic.com and is the author of several books on religion, oncluding some on the philosophy of Jacques Maritain and Thomism.

He taught philosophy at Fordham from 1989-1995, and was director for Catholic outreach in George W. Bush's presidential campaigns of 2000 and 2004. He edited the Catholic journal Crisis. His most recent book is Onward, Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States (Simon & Schuster/Threshold, 2008).

L'Osservatore Romano
needs a new editor

by Deal W. Hudson

May 20, 2009

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.

"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 Univeristy in the nation?

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.

[I believe it is a deliberate editorial choice, as I have noted since the kowtowing trend became apparent after Obama's inauguration. No editor can be so misinformed as to allow his reporters to write only about one side - the positive side - of Obama, patently ignoring all his statements and actions that directly do violence to core Catholic values.]

I urge our readers to write to the Cardinal Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and to indicate to him the great harm that is being done by these articles. His address is simply:

Secretariate of State
00120 Vatican City State

I am so relieved someone with the public creds I don't have has now come out and openly challenged the obvious and blatantly uncritical pro-Obama slant of the Vatican newspaper, best exemplified by how it finally reported - for the first time - on the Notre Dame crisis, reporting Obama's address, unbelievably omitting any mention at all of the opposition of the USCCB and at least 80 Catholic bishops, not to mention the sign-in petition from some 400,000 concerned Catholics - and the grounds for their opposition.

Thus ignoring both John Paul II's Ex Corde Ecclesiae defining the responsibility of Catholic educational institutions in upholding Catholic doctrine, and the USCCB statement prohibiting Catholic institutions from honoring or awarding persons who are publicly in violation of Catholic dostrine.

Even more unbelievably, accepting and reporting prima facie Obama's glib assertion that 'we can find common ground' on the abortion issue.

What common ground, in God's name, is possible between a President who amorally thinks nothing at all of killing babies in the womb even in the last stages of ptegnancy if the mother so demands, and the doctrine of the Church based on the Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt not kill"?

And yet, the OR sees that 'common ground' statement as a positive for Obama, without any attempt to analyze it at all, and even worse, without any mention of Obama's factual record in words and deeds on the matter of abortion on demand.

Indeed, what has most appalled me about the OR reporting on Obama - and as I mentioned a few times in the past, its zeal in drawing the most optimistic conclusions (and headlines) from the slightest straw in the wind let loose by Obama or one of his collaborators - is the shameless onesidedness of the reporting in defiance of all journalistic standards. To a degree almost worse than what we have become used to in the secular MSM.

No attempt at balance. A deliberate effort to report only the positive and avoiding any negatives at all. In fact, a bending over backward to find something positive even in something obviously negative [as in authorizing federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, the OR writer said, "but he specified such research should not be used for cloning"!]. The slant would not be so objectionable if there was any attempt at all for fairness, for presenting both sides.

But perhaps the OR editors and writers cannot afford to present the negative side of Obama on the core issues because it would make their cheerleading for him so obviously untenable - in the 'Pope's newspaper' of all places!

If Cardinal Bertone, who chose Vian for editor, and who nominally oversees the OR, thinks that this almost ass-licking attitude is 'necessary' in any way to build good relations with the new US administration, why do so at the expense of truth and fairness, and of standing firm for Catholic doctrine?

It is as foolish and unrealistic to think that by seemingly 'aweet-talking' Obama, he will suddenly change his views on abortion and embryonic stem-cell research - he is about to appoint a Supreme Court justice who will most certainly do his/her best to strenghten the pro-choice legislation already in place - as it is foolish and grandstanding on the part of Obama to think that by telling Iran's Ahamadinejad, "We want to be friends, let us talk", he will stop him from going ahead with his nuclear bomb program!

Perhaps, it is another indication of the OR's pro-Obama tendentiousness that it has not reported at all how in the past week, Obama changed his mind about releasing further classifed memos as well as alleged torture pictures that would only be used by Amereica's enemies as propaganda fodder; about the wisdom of closing Guantanamo just to keep a campaign promise, even in the absence of any plan as to what to do with its inmates; and about resuming the trials of these inmates by the military commissions as started in the Bush administration, instead of turning them over to civilian courts.

At times like this, I heartily wish I did not understand any Italian at all.

In the following article, both LifeSite News and the prelate interviewed are trying to treat the OR question gingerly - too gingerly, I think. And it can't be out of consideration that perhaps the Pope might be behind all this, since the article correctly identifies the OR as an organ of the Vatican Secretariat of State, and Deal Hudson was right to suggest that all protests should be addressed to Cardinal Bertone, tout de suite!

And though Mons. Barreiro does take a direct shot at the illogic of OR's glomming onto Obama's 'common ground' on abortion as the most important thing he said, I do not see the virtue in trying to rationalize why kowtowing to Obama in defiance of the Magisterium is necessary at all, in the futile hope of getting him to soften his stand on anything that seeks to muzzle the Catholic voice in the public arena.

Vatican attempting to build
diplomatic bridges with Obama coverage
in L'Osservatore Romano, according to
Rome pro-life official

By Hilary White

ROME, May 19 (LifeSiteNews.com) - With a series of articles in their daily newspaper, the Vatican is signalling that it is willing to "build bridges" with the Obama administration, a prominent pro-life advocate in Rome has said.

In today's coverage of President Obama's speech at Notre Dame, the Italian language edition of L'Osservatore Romano called abortion a "delicate issue," and emphasized the President's assertion that he is attempting to find "common ground" with those who support the right to life.

"The 'search for common ground' seems to be the path chosen by the president of the United States, Barack Obama, to address the delicate issue of abortion," the unsigned article said.

The article repeated without comment Obama's assertion that he wishes to "reduce the number of abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, facilitating adoptions and ensuring assistance and support to those who decide to keep the baby."

Italian press coverage noted that L'Osservatore Romano had declined to mention the more than 80 American bishops who have thus far objected in the strongest terms to the President having been invited to Notre Dame.

Also not mentioned were the protests by hundreds of students and pro-life advocates, as well as the arrests of dozens of pro-life advocates on Sunday, including priests.

In recent weeks L'Osservatore Romano has produced a number of articles that have either praised Obama or have placed his extreme pro-abortion position into a carefully diplomatic soft focus.

An article published on April 30 titled, "Obama in the White House: 100 Days that Didn't Shake the World," was strongly criticised by pro-life advocates in the US for its use of the language and logic of the abortion movement.

It raised concerns among pro-life Catholics who said it and others like it constitute a signal that the Vatican is moving away from its support for the pro-life position.

A pro-life advocate and former diplomat based in Rome said in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com that these articles make it clear that the Vatican's diplomatic sections are trying to "build bridges" between the Church and the new US administration.

Monsignore Ignacio Barreiro, the director of the Rome office of Human Life International, told LSN that though he "respects" the effort, it is essential to address issues of simple logic.

"Someone has to ask the question," he said, "of whether we [as pro-life persons] can speak of a 'common ground' with those who believe that killing a baby in the womb is a right of women? That no authority, no human authority, can force a woman to respect the life of a child?"

"From a logical perspective I cannot see how we can speak of a common ground."
[Exactly my point!]

Msgr. Barreiro noted that L'Osservatore Romano, effectively an organ of the Vatican's Secretariat of State, had included an article in the same edition on statements by the US bishops against the Obama administration's plans for expanding human embryonic stem cell research, and said, "This is to be praised." But it is clear, he said, that the Vatican is attempting to prepare for a diplomatic "dialogue"..

The Secretariat of State, he said, is being "prudent." "It is the normal function of the diplomat to build bridges. To try to dialogue in areas of disagreement."

The purpose of these diplomatic bridges, he said, is to attempt to slow the advance of Obama's anti-life policies, particularly the Freedom of Choice Act that threatens to erase all legal protections for the unborn in the US.

Barreiro said that although he respects the effort, he remains sceptical about the possibility of success.

Referring to the well-known commitment of the Obama administration to the abortion agenda, he said, "I understand the need to dialogue with political authorities, but we have to be realistic."

But whether the efforts of the Vatican will succeed, he said, is dependent upon the strength of the support by American Catholics for their Church's stand against abortion.

"Our ability to negotiate," he said, "depends on the commitment of Catholics. The more Catholics are ready to defend life, the stronger is going to be our negotiation position. It is not on the ability of single diplomats, that the issue will be decided, but on the strength they can show of the support of millions of Catholics, and even Evangelicals, who are ready to do the utmost to defend life."

Any way you look at it, to try and 'build bridges' or 'create dialog; by shameless pandering - which is utterly hypocritical - at the expense of creating confusion among the faithful [Is it morally OK for the Pope's newspaper to soft-pedal its stand on core Catholic issues just to make nice with Obama? As though he would not negotiate with the Vatican at all unless it kowtowed to him first? This is all extremely distressing - and worse, unnecessary!

Did the OR in the past, pre-Vian, pander this way at all to any other leader??????

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/22/2009 4:46 PM]