Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama's Prize... Vatican's "Appreciation"

Earlier today, the Norwegian Nobel Committee made waves with its decision to award the 2009 Peace Prize to President Obama... yet while the body's pick for the world's best-known honor has already prompted an outcry from America's Catholic right, the Vatican issued a congratulatory statement shortly after the midday announcement in Oslo.

Delivered by the Holy See's lead spokesman, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, here's an NCR translation of the Vatican reax:
"The awarding of the Nobel Prize for Peace to President Obama is greeted with appreciation in the Vatican, in light of the commitment demonstrated by the President for the promotion of peace in the international arena, and in particular also recently in favor of nuclear disarmament. It's hoped that this very important recognition will further encourage that commitment, which is difficult but fundamental for the future of humanity, so that the desired results will be obtained."
In an interview with Vatican Radio, the newly-arrived US ambassador to the Holy See Miguel Diaz saw the prize as further recognition of Obama's "efforts to construct peace and comprehension among the people of the world."

Among others, the 44th President joins a list of ad intra Peace laureates that includes the East Timorese Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo (1996), Polish President Lech Walesa (1983) and, most famously of all, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, whose 1979 acceptance of the prize was marked by her statement that "the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing -- direct murder by the mother herself."

SVILUPPO: If the Press Office's response offered a restrained optimism at the news, some delegates to the ongoing Synod of Bishops for Africa were notably less staid: Catholic News Service reports that Ghanaian Archbishop Gabriel Palmer-Buckle of Accra appeared "ecstatic" at the President's selection. For his part, the prelate described himself as "overwhelmed."

Earlier in the week, Palmer-Buckle made news for his assertion to reporters that "a divine plan [was] behind" Obama's election, comparing it to a "biblical story."

The Ghanaian echoed the head of the continent's largest diocese -- Congolese Archbishop Laurent Monswengo of Kinshasa -- who, speaking on the Synod floor earlier this week, deemed Obama's ascent to the White House "a divine sign and a sign from the Holy Spirit for the reconciliation of races and ethnic groups for peaceful relations."