Friday, March 06, 2009

Reading the Rome Leaves

It's no secret on the beat that, under its colorful new management, the Vatican daily is "must" reading to a degree that, some say, it hasn't been in four decades.

Why? Because these days, L'Osservatore Romano doesn't just report news, it makes it.

And writes about the Beatles, to boot.

Along those lines -- and in the spirit of its highly positive 5 November lead editorial on what transpired on these shores the night before -- RNS' Frank Rocca writes from Rome that the Papal Paper is keeping its masters' stance toward Washington warm and open... regardless of what might be making news back here:
[B]ack-to-back items over the last couple of days suggest that the Holy See is sending friendly signals to the Obama White House, despite strong differences over abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

Yesterday's edition featured a short item about HHS Secretary-designate Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic whose bishop has told her not to receive Communion on account of her support for abortion rights. The Osservatore article mentioned neither Sebelius's faith nor her stand on abortion, which could mean that the Vatican doesn't expect American Catholics to make an issue out of either.

More explicitly favorable is an article in today's paper praising Obama's proposed budget for its heavy spending on welfare and health care. According to the unsigned article: "After a decade of exaltation of individual enrichment, today the USA, struck by the economic crisis, is witnessing instead the pressing resurgence of the values of solidarity."
(And, indeed, that is Hillary Clinton staring down the readership from the cover of today's edition, its lead stories on GM's looming bankruptcy and DC's overtures to Tehran.)

Having kept the Pope's affirmative, hopeful line toward the incoming administration during the transition, the paper did cast its first shot at Obama & Co. after the president's reversal of the "Mexico City" ban on overseas abortion funding within his first 100 hours in office.

Taking its lead from the statement of the US bishops in response to the move, the L'Osservatore piece made no bones over Rome's displeasure, blaring the words "very disappointing" atop the story.

In another Stateside note, the paper recently made a point of highlighting The Church, Sharing! -- the pastoral on solidarity and the economic crisis recently released by Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh.

SVILUPPO: On further review, Kathleen Sebelius' pro-choice views didn't completely miss L'Osservatore's brush; two pieces ran in Wednesday's edition -- the shorter news-blurb cited by Rocca, and a longer piece that noted the criticisms of the Kansas governor's ordinary, Archbishop Joseph Naumann.

Any mention of Naumann's May 2008 "pastoral action" calling on Sebelius to refrain from the Eucharist, however, was conspicuous by its absence.