National Catholic Reporter

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Benedict, Obama meeting marked by clarity, respect


The meeting of the Holy Father with President Barack Obama has come and gone, and the Apostolic Palace is still standing. To be sure, the pope and the president were far from being on the same page on every subject. What two heads of state are? The Holy Father teaches that abortion is an intrinsically evil act that should never be permitted. President Obama sees abortion as a tragedy in every instance, which the law should seek to limit but not prohibit.

On this topic and a few others, they evidently agreed to disagree, not in polemical anger, but in a clear understanding that such issues are difficult ones in a pluralistic society, in which well-meaning people, “exercising the right to abide by one’s own conscience,” in the words of the post-meeting Vatican press release, might have different moral solutions to the same problem.

The remarks of Cardinal Georges Cottier, Dominican theologian emeritus of the papal household, published early last week, in which the Cardinal praised the president’s position in seeking a common ground “to reduce the number of women seeking abortion,” were an obvious Vatican-planned prelude to this result.

Pope presses Obama on pledge to reduce abortions


When President Barack Obama came calling on Pope Benedict XVI today, the two men enjoyed a “truly cordial” encounter, according to a Vatican spokesperson, but at the same time there was no diplomatic silence from the pontiff about their differences over abortion and other “life issues.”

Not only did Benedict press his pro-life case with his words to the president, but he even found a way to make the point with his gift, offering the president a copy of a recent Vatican document on bioethics. According to a Vatican spokesperson, the pope drew a repetition from Obama of his vow to bring down the actual abortion rate.

Beyond the life issues, the Vatican’s statement indicated that Benedict and Obama also found “general agreement” on the Middle East peace process and other regional situations. The two leaders also touched food security, development aid especially for Africa and Latin America, immigration and drug trafficking, according to the statement.

Coming away from the meeting, however, it was hard to escape the impression that Benedict wanted to use it to deliver a clear pro-life message.

Obama, 12th president to visit a pope


When President Barack Obama stepped into the pope's private library in the Vatican July 10, he became only the 12th U.S. president to do so.

And while the Vatican has a protocol handbook governing visits by heads of state -- a handbook that covers everything, including the number of Swiss Guards and papal gentlemen in tails present -- the way each visit unfolds is determined by the schedules of the pope and his guest.

The fact that Obama came to the Vatican directly from the Group of Eight meeting in L'Aquila, Italy, and left immediately afterward to fly to Ghana meant timing was tight.

The time constraints meant the Vatican and the White House made no plans for an exchange of formal speeches -- an optional part of papal receptions of presidents.

But there is always time for an exchange of gifts.

The Baltimore province of the Redemptorists announced that it had given Obama a stole that had been placed on the remains of St. John Neumann, a 19th-century Redemptorist and the first male naturalized U.S. citizen to become a saint. Obama gave the stole to the pope.

Denver's Chaput to be part of Legionaries' probe



A Vatican-ordered apostolic visitation of the Legionaries of Christ and their institutions will begin July 15, and the papal delegates carrying out the investigations will include U.S. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver.

In a written statement sent to Catholic News Service July 8, the Legionaries' headquarters in Rome said the Vatican had set the date for the start of the visitation and named the five prelates appointed by the Vatican to carry out the visits.

It said Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told the order that Archbishop Chaput will conduct investigations of the Legionaries' centers and institutions in the United States and Canada while Mexican Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi of Tepic will cover Mexico and Central America.

It said Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi of Alessandria, Italy, will cover Italy, Israel, South Korea and the Philippines; Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Concepcion, Chile, will visit centers and institutions in South America; and Bishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Bilbao, Spain, will cover all of Europe, excluding Italy.

Encyclical seen breaking new ground



Pope Benedict XVI's new encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth"), breaks new ground on such topics as microfinancing, intellectual property rights, globalization and the concept of putting one's wealth at the service of the poor, according to Catholic scholars and church leaders.

In interviews with Catholic News Service and in statements about the encyclical released July 7 at the Vatican, commentators said the more than 30,000-word document takes on a variety of issues not previously addressed in such a comprehensive way.

"I was surprised ... at how wide-ranging it is," said Kirk Hanson, a business ethics professor at Santa Clara University in California and executive director of the Jesuit-run university's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. "It's not just an updating of 'Populorum Progressio'" ("The Progress of Peoples"), the 1967 social encyclical by Pope Paul VI, he added.

Hanson said he also was struck by Pope Benedict's concept of "gratuitousness" or "giftedness," which reminds people "not to consider wealth ours alone" and asks the wealthy to "be ready to put (their money) in service for the good of others."

Pope Benedict invites all to think boldly in Love


Barack Obama is headed to Rome to visit with the Holy Father. If in place of the in-flight movie, the president reads the Holy Father’s latest encyclical, Caritas on Veritate, he will be inspired in two ways.

First, he will see how natural is his collaboration with the Holy See in support of economic and social reforms, be they to restore fairness to the market or to provide access to healthcare.

Second, he will be reading a papal document that because of Benedict’s expected, and I daresay fulfilled, freedom to speak in a spiritual idiom far broader than that of public policy and everyday politics, the justifications for the reforms the president and his like-minded international counterparts seek lie in the truth of the human person and not just Pareto optimal moves measured by cost-benefit or other economic analysis. Obama will be asked to see the ultimate antidote to a sick economy as love or what Benedict styles as the “the gratuity of gift.”

Build global economy on 'Christian humanism' pope says



Blending a call for increased aid to developing nations, support for a world government with “real teeth,” alarm at the “unregulated exploitation” of the environment, and staunch opposition to population control programs, Pope Benedict XVI today sketched what he called a “Christian humanism” for the globalized age in his long-awaited social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (“Charity in Truth”).

To be sustainable, Benedict argues, economic policies must be rooted in a comprehensive vision of human welfare, including spirituality – as opposed to a “technocratic” approach, or one driven by “private interests and the logic of power.”

Read the full story here: Pope proposes a 'Christian humanism' for the global economy



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