Monday, October 12, 2009

Bench to POTUS: Congrats

Sure, the Catholic conversation might be mirroring its broader counterpart over Friday's selection of President Obama for this year's Nobel Peace Prize... even so, the US bishops have echoed the Holy See in voicing congratulations to the POTUS on his receipt of the award.

Released just before noon today, the statement was made by the body's president, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago.

“In the name of the Catholic Bishops of the United States, I would like to offer congratulations to President Barack Obama on his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. As he has graciously said, much of the work of realizing a more peaceful and just world for all persons and nations remains to be done; but the prize was given because as President of the United States he has already changed the international conversation.

“In our own country, the remarkable and historic achievement of his election has changed the relationships between men and women of all races. The rich diversity of United States society is now more surely anchored in a national unity that is better able to foster the peace we all are challenged to pursue. Our prayer is that almighty God will bless the President and his family.”
SVILUPPO: Meanwhile, on the flipside, better known for its prior record of positive comment on the new administration (and the controversy it caused), the Vatican's "house organ" has likewise broken form to cast a skeptical view on Obama as "premature" Nobel laureate:
“During the last 90 years,” L'Osservatore Romano noted, “the prize has never been awarded to a sitting U.S. president—when it was awarded to Jimmy Carter in 2002 he had been out of office already for some time—[but was] involved in politics and susceptible, therefore, to making a range of decisions related to peace.”

Perhaps for this reason, the newspaper said, “Analysts have almost unanimously interpreted his selection as a way of pressuring Obama to make pacifist choices as his administration continues forward.”

L'Osservatore also questioned the administration's actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying that the decisions seem aimed at trying to find a middle way between “fidelity to the pacifist statements made during the campaign season and a more realistic policy, which some have defined as a continuation of that of the ‘warmonger’ Bush.”

This back-and-forth policy, the paper observed, is very similar to the approach that Obama has taken to “the great bioethics issues, with abortion being first and foremost.” His way of doing things has generated great controversy among Catholics in the country, the daily added.

The Vatican newspaper also brought to mind Mother Teresa being honored with the Peace Prize in 1979, and said, “Obama ought to recall that in 1979 he was preceded by Mother Teresa, who had the courage to state in her acceptance speech that the harshest war with the greatest number of ‘fallen’ is the practice of abortion, legalized and facilitated as well by the international structures.”

Pointing out an inconsistency, L'Osservatore noted that Pope John Paul II was a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for year but was never chosen for the award, not even in 2003 “after his condemnation of the war in Iraq.”

“Pope Wojtyla was considered by the members of the committee as too ‘conservative’ in other areas, and they feared that awarding it to him would been seen as favoring the Catholic Church over other religions. Their fears were evidently overcome in the much more controversial case of the selection of Obama,” the Vatican daily said....

Nevertheless, the article concluded, “at the same time, as the director of the Holy See’s Press Office has stated, we cannot help but rejoice at the recognition of President Obama’s efforts at nuclear disarmament and his personal disposition towards a policy that seeks peace more than the affirmation of U.S. power in the world.”
And between the two, what we could call a role reversal was had.