Friday, October 9, 2009

What the Vatican Congratulation to Obama Means

Sources: Catholic Culture : Latest Headlines : Vatican congratulates Obama on Nobel Peace Prize;

I figured I'd post this preemptively as I know some people will try to spin this as "Vatican loves Obama… US bishops out of touch" or else as an accusation that the Pope "betrayed" faithful Catholics.

This is not a carte blanche endorsement of the Obama administration.  This is an acknowledgement of one area where the Obama administration and the teaching of the Catholic Church coincides (peace and the opposition to war).

It makes sense in context when one reads the Pope's statement on war, from yesterday:


VATICAN CITY, 9 OCT 2009 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Auditorium on Rome's Via della Conciliazione Benedict XVI attended a concert entitled "Young people against war (1939-2009)", played by the "InterRegionales Jugendsinfonie Orchester" conducted by Jochem Hochstenbach. The programme included compositions by Gustav Mahler and Felix Mendelsshon-Bartholdy and texts by Johan Wolfgang Goethe, Heinrich Heine, Paul Celan and Berthold Brecht, as well as two poems by children imprisoned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, read by Michelle Breedt and Klaus Maria Brandauer.

The concert, called to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, was organised by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, the German embassy to the Holy See and the European "KulturForum" of Mainau.

At the end of the concert the Holy Father made some brief remarks, expressing his joy at having been able participate in this initiative which, he said, "using the universal language of music, ... seeks to encourage young people to build the future of the world together, drawing inspiration from the values of peace and the brotherhood of man".

"This evening the tragedy of World War II returns to our memory, a terrible page of history steeped in violence and inhumanity which caused the death of millions of people, leaving the winners divided and Europe to be rebuilt. The war, instigated by National Socialism, affected many innocent peoples in Europe and on other continents, while with the drama of the Shoah it particularly affected the Jewish people, who were victims of a planned extermination. Yet calls for reason and peace were not lacking from many sides. Here in Rome, the heartfelt cry of my venerated predecessor Pius XII rang out. In his radio message of 24 August 1939 - on the very eve of the outbreak of war - he decisively proclaimed: 'nothing is lost with peace. Everything may be lost with war'. ... May the recollection of those sad events be a warning, especially to the new generations, never to yield to the temptation of war".

Pope Benedict then went on to mention the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, "an eloquent symbol of the end of the totalitarian Communist regimes of Eastern Europe", he said. "Europe and the entire world thirst for freedom and peace. Together we must build true civilisation, not founded on force but on the 'fruit of our victory over ourselves, over the powers of injustice, selfishness and hatred which can even go so far as to disfigure man'".

"The ecumenical movement", he concluded, "can help to build [this civilisation], working together with the Jews and with all believers. May God bless us and grant humankind the gift of peace".


War may at times be unavoidable when another party seeks aggression and we have no choice but to fight or suffer a great injustice, but war should never be sought out.  If a just and peaceful path can be found which avoids war, it is the way Christians are called to follow.

So for those out there seeking to claim "abortion isn't as important as other issues," for those who want to accuse the Pope of "betraying the Church," you speak falsely.  We have a great body of work of the Church, including that of the current Pope which stands firmly for the right to life.

It merely means, as I said above that the reason Obama was awarded the peace prize was an issue which is compatible with Church teaching. 

No more, no less.

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