Last week’s meeting between President Obama and Pope Benedict XVI provided the “frank discussion” that the Obama Administration seemed to desire between the two world leaders.
It came days after the pope released his long-anticipated third encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” (“Charity in Truth”) in which he puts forth a vision of economic solidarity rooted in moral truth. The moral vision of the encyclical letter was reflected in the rather “frank discussion” between the president and the pope. While President Obama and Pope Benedict shared a common concern for the Middle East, the global economy and other issues, the Holy Father, much as he does in “Caritas in Veritate,” stressed the sanctity of all human life must always be the starting point for any “frank discussion.”
President Obama has filled his cabinet with liberal Catholic politicians and has often referenced his fondness for the late Cardinal Bernadin's "seamless garment." However, that “seamless garment” includes the protection of human life from its very beginning, a fact often ignored by Obama and his liberal Catholic supporters. Immediately after their meeting, the Vatican issued a statement making it clear that abortion and bioethics were the first topics the pope discussed with the president.
The Holy Father should continue to remind President Obama of his promise of reducing the numbers of abortion — a promise the president restated in last week’s meeting. However, this promise seems rather empty as it contradicts Obama's plan to provide federal funding for abortions in Washington, D.C. among many pro-abortion decisions he has made since taking office in January. In fact, the Holy Father gave Obama a very important gift, a copy of the 2008 bioethics document, "Dignitas Personae,” which can serve as a reminder. “Dignitas Personae” clearly states in its opening line: “The dignity of the human person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death.”
The “frank discussion” between President Obama and Pope Benedict was an occasion in which the Holy Father presented the truth of Catholic teaching with clarity but also charity. However, we are continually reminded that the president has steadfastly supported abortion his entire career and his unrelenting support is shared by many of the Catholic appointees of his cabinet. After the “frank discussion” of last week and with the arrival of a new encyclical, President Obama and his Catholic supporters would do well to remember the “Veritas” part of “Charity in Truth.”