Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Vatican Daily on First 100: Less Bang Then Whimper

No question, some folks will disagree -- and mightily so -- but on this much-touted 100th Day of the Obama administration, the Holy See's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has rolled out its verdict in a front-page editorial:
[U]nder the headline, "The 100 days that did not shake the world," [L'Osservatore] said the new president has operated with more caution than predicted in most areas, including economics and international relations.

"On ethical questions, too -- which from the time of the electoral campaign have been the subject of strong worries by the Catholic bishops -- Obama does not seem to have confirmed the radical innovations that he had discussed," it said.

It said the new draft guidelines for stem-cell research, for example, did not constitute the major change in policy that was foreseen a few months ago.

"(The guidelines) do not allow the creation of new embryos for research or therapeutic purposes, for cloning or for reproductive ends, and federal funds may be used only for experimentation with excess embryos," it said.

It added that the new guidelines "do not remove the reasons for criticism in the face of unacceptable forms of bioengineering" but are "less permissive" than expected.

The article saw a positive sign in the recent introduction of the Pregnant Women Support Act, which would help women overcome problems that often cause them to have abortions. It was sponsored by a group of pro-life Democrats.

"It is not a negation of the doctrine expressed up to now by Obama in the matter of interruption of pregnancy, but the legislative project could represent a rebalancing in support of maternity," the newspaper said.
Full translation to come... in the meantime, however, the Pregnant Women Support Act received a significant ecclesial green-light last week when it was publicly backed by the US bishops' pro-life chair, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia.

In a 24 April letter to members of Congress urging their support for the measure, Rigali promoted the bill for offering "an authentic common ground" that "will provide many kinds of life-affirming support for pregnant women and their unborn children.

"[P]regnant women need our assistance now so that abortion is not promoted to them as their only choice," the cardinal wrote (emphases original).

Earlier this week, Rigali likewise issued a retort to an assertion by veteran pro-lifer Doug Kmiec -- once a Reaganite, now an Obama surrogate -- that the administration's recently released guidelines for embryonic stem-cell research were "ethically sensitive."

On another point of church-state contention, lead oversight of the administration's abortion and health-care policy is now officially in the hands of a stridently pro-choice Catholic.

Yesterday, the Senate filled the final vacancy in the Obama Cabinet by confirming Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services by a 65-31 vote.

A thorn for the church's pro-life base long before her selection for the Federal post, last year Sebelius was publicly asked to refrain from the Eucharist by her ordinary, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City. In recent weeks, aides to both Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington and Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington have indicated their expectation that the Kansas prelate's request of Sebelius would continue to be honored by the now-Secretary after she moves to the capital.

PHOTO: Getty