When President Obama met with Pope Francis, I was expecting a Walk to Canossa. It turned out the latest in a long line of reactionary disappointments.
Afterward, the media people of pope and president conflicted on how much America’s latest church-vs.-state contretemps du jour was discussed. We fight a lot over religion for a country with an adamantine “wall of separation between church and state” supposedly imposed by the Founding Deists (actually, not).
Obama’s people insisted the talk mainly was about alleviating global poverty and inequality. They didn’t mean repealing his polices, which have worsened both.
The pope’s folks said the world’s temporal and spiritual leaders largely talked about religious liberty. In particular, they palavered about Obamacare forcing Catholic organizations, and such companies as Hobby Lobby – whose owners are devout Protestants – to pay for insurance coverage for abortions and contraceptive potions and devices.
I think we can side with the pope on this one. However, what I’d like to know is what his American cardinals and bishops told him about what’s going on. Any pope must deal with events in more than 200 countries and has to depend on his subordinates for information. Even though America still is the world’s biggest economy, and gives the most to the Vatican treasury, the complexities of Catholic life here are baffling even to the most astute observer.
This is especially true now that waves of new Catholic immigrants from all over the globe have come across our borders or landed at our airports. These new Catholics are “cultural conservatives” who abhor abortion, yet vote about 70 percent for Obama and other liberal pro-abort Democrats.
America’s bishops have done little to change this. The last excommunications handed down for political reasons were more than five decades ago against Southern opponents of racial desegregation. The U.S. bishops did not excommunicate “Justice” William Brennan when he voted to impose legalized abortion in the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision. Nor have they excommunicated other pro-aborts such as numerous Kennedys and Cuomos, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Joe Biden, etc.
So not serving a black man at a lunch counter is more serious than 30 percent of abortions being of black babies, even though blacks are just 13 percent of the population. And another 25 percent of abortions are of Hispanic babies, even though Hispanics, most of them Catholic, also are just 13 percent of the population.
Even though the bishops have a captive audience for one hour a week for the most devout Catholics, anti-abortion sermons are few and far between even in the most orthodox dioceses.
For more than 100 years, the U.S. bishops also have backed socialized medicine. As Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, then the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, put it in a March 23, 2010 letter under USCCB letterhead calling for religious exemptions as Obamacare was being passed: “For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have called for reform of our health care system so that all may have access to the care that recognizes and affirms their human dignity.”
The bishops have advanced socialized medicine even though Pope Pius XI wrote in 1931 in Quadragesimo Anno: “Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.”
As to taking care of “all,” haven’t Catholic hospitals done that for centuries?
Having got what that they wanted, the bishops now are Shocked! Shocked! that Catholics – just 20 percent of the population, and most of them badly catechized by the bishops – are being forced to go along with the other 80 percent. Although the remainder of the 80 percent includes many Protestants, Jews and others who maintain similar objections to Obamacare.
It’s like working 100 years to nationalize the auto industry, then objecting that the government also will take over your family’s small hubcap factory.
The main reason for the president jetting to Rome, of course, was to pose for photo-ops with the popular pontiff, making Obama seem a friend of Catholics before the mid-term elections. Joking with the Francis could help limit Democratic losses in the House, and possibly even stop the loss of majority Democratic rule in the Senate.
The president needs the votes to keep the highly unpopular Obamacare going until the next Republican president takes over and, in the time-honored tradition of all GOP chief executives, trims new Democratic programs while institutionalizing them. (Remember how Reagan promised to axe the departments of Education and Energy?)
What should we do? At this late date the only things that will work, especially this being Lent, are prayer and fasting.