Friday, June 05, 2009

Under Pressure, L'Osservatore Clears the Air

After weeks of head-scratching on the right over its coverage of the new administration, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano clarified yesterday that it "has certainly not intended to express appreciation for" President Obama's positions on "questions of ethical relevance."

"Obviously," the daily said at the close of a brief story on the US bishops' campaign against the Democratic White House's new ethical guidelines on embryonic stem-cell research, "the Holy See and L'Osservatore Romano have been, are and will be fully on the side of the American bishops in their task of advocating the inviolability of human life at whatever stage of its existence."

"Other interpretations are unfounded," the note added, "not least those which have sought to instrumentalize the journal's articles to make the teaching of the US episcopate on the inherent evil of abortion appear as an exercise in sectarian politics in contrast to a different strategy of the Holy See.

"President Obama has shown himself open to dialogue and the US bishops have positively greeted this possibility. But in doing so they've confirmed, and rightly so, that in dialogue, compromise is never possible on the fundamental questions of the right to life."

Buried in the paper's edition released late yesterday, the note's existence was first reported by Religion News Service.

At the same time, however, the very same edition's front-page lead piece was a warm welcome of Obama's speech to the Muslim world in Cairo early yesterday.

Come mid-month, the nation's bishops will meet in San Antonio for their first plenary since the administration came to office.