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Friday, July 3, 2009

Obama Opens Up to "Catholic" Press on Rev. Wright, Catholic Tradition, Abortion, Conscience Protection and Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations


President Obama hosted a round table discussion today at the White House, most of whom represented "Catholic" publications
(7 representatives from "Catholic" media, and 3 others, including a reporter from the Washington Post).
(I use quotations because all "Catholics" that were present are very dissident, with the exception of the National Catholic Register, which is owned by the Legionaires of Christ. See list of those present at the bottom of this post.)

The purpose of the gathering, according to Chris Hensman, press secretary with the National Security Council, is a “preview of the President’s upcoming visit with Pope Benedict XVI.” The President is meeting with the Pope on July 10.

The National Catholic Register reports that Obama began with brief remarks and then gave each representative the opportunity to ask one question.

In his remarks, the President said that he had a wonderful conversation with Pope Benedict XVI right after his election. He said that he sees his visit with the Holy See in some ways like any other government in that there will be areas of agreement and disagreement. He also said that he sees the Holy See as more than a government because of the Church’s influence on this country and the world. He said that it would be a great honor to meet the Pope and was looking forward to talking about the Middle East, climate change and immigration.

“The most noteworthy thing during the meeting was his dispelling of what you might call the expectation of the worst regarding conscience clauses,” said Father Kearns, editor-in-chief and publisher of the National Catholic Register.
“He said that the confusion regarding the issue was due to the timing of everything rather than what he was going to do. His administration saw the previous administration’s 11th-hour change as problematic, and so they undid that. He said that in Illinois he was a supporter of a robust conscience clause, something he reiterated in his Notre Dame speech. He added that the government has received hundreds of thousands of public comments, and he promised that there would be a robust conscience-clause protection in place, and that it would not be weaker than the one that was already in place before President Bush’s change. Still, he added, it won’t please everybody.”

In addition, Father Kearns noted the President’s analysis of the divide in Catholicism.

“The President said he had fond memories of Cardinal Bernardin and that when he started his neighborhood project, they were funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development,” he said. “After the first question, from the National Catholic Reporter‘s Joe Feuerherd, the president jokingly asked,
‘Was there really [a controversy at Notre Dame]?’”

“The President spoke about how during Cardinal Bernardin’s time the U.S. bishops spoke about the nuclear freeze, the sanctuary movement, immigration and the poor, but that later a decided change took place,” added Father Kearns. “He said that the responses to his administration mirror the tensions in the Church overall, but that Cardinal Bernardin was pro-life and never hesitated to make his views known, but he had a consistent ‘seamless garment’ approach that emphasized the other issues, as well. The president said that that part of the Catholic tradition continues to inspire him. Those issues, he said, seemed to have gotten buried by the abortion debate.”

Paul Baumann of Commonweal magazine asked the President about the forthcoming report on efforts to seek common ground on abortion.

“What are your realistic hopes for this group?” asked Baumann.

The President responded that the group has met, received a range of perspectives, gathered comments, and will deliver a memo to the president sometime soon.

“I’ve never been under the illusion that there are going to be ... that we were going to simply talk all our differences away on these issues,” said the President. “Again, I acknowledged this in the Notre Dame speech. I think there’s a irreducible difference, conflict, on the abortion issue, that the best we can do is suggest that people of goodwill can be on either side, but you can’t wish those differences away.”

“I can tell you, though, that on the idea of helping young people make smart choices so that they are not engaging in casual sexual activity that can lead to unwanted pregnancies, on the importance of adoption as a option, an alternative to abortion, on caring for pregnant women so that it is easier for them to support children, those are immediately three areas where I would be surprised if we don’t have some pretty significant areas of agreement,” he added.

“You identified the areas where things may be more difficult. I personally think that combining good sexual and — or good sex and moral education needs to be combined with contraception in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies,” said the president. “I recognize that contradicts Catholic Church doctrine, so I would not expect someone who feels very strongly about this issue as a matter of religious faith to be able to agree with me on that, but that’s my personal view. We may not be able to arrive at perfectly compatible language on that front.”

“I would be surprised if those who believe abortion should be legal would object to language that says we should try to reduce the circumstances in which women feel compelled to obtain an abortion. If they took that position, I would disagree with them. I don’t know any circumstances in which abortion is a happy circumstance or decision, and to the extent that we can help women avoid being confronted with a circumstance in which that’s even a consideration, I think that’s a good thing.”

In response to a question from The Washington Post regarding finding a home church, President Obama had this to say:

“Michelle and I decided that we would wait a few months after arriving before we made a decision on this, partly — let’s be blunt: I mean, we were pretty affected by what happened at Trinity and the controversy surrounding Reverend Wright,” said the president. “That was deeply disturbing to us, and it was disappointing for us personally. It made us very sensitive to the fact that as president the church we attend can end up being interpreted as speaking for us at all times. We were also mindful of the fact that the times that we have attended church here, everybody who attends has to go through a mag — and it’s a scene. I mean, it’s just — unfortunately, I am now very disruptive wherever I go. And so thinking about how to just manage the logistics of that was something that we spent some time talking about.”

“We have attended services at Camp David every weekend that we’re there. I will tell you, by the way, that it is a wonderful little congregation; the members of Camp David who are up there consistently have their families there; they’ve got a Sunday school. The young chaplain there, Chaplain Cash, is terrific — as good of a — delivers as powerful a sermon as I’ve heard in a while. I really think he’s excellent. So we will continue to go to services there.”

He continued, “How we handle church when we’re here in D.C. is something that we’re still figuring out. And I think that in the second half of the year we will have made a decision. We may choose, rather than to join just one church, to rotate and attend a number of different churches.”

The President added that he’s looking into inviting in a broad collection of pastors from various denominations to the White House to come pray with the first family. He also described that he receives spiritual sustenance from a devotional that a colleague sends to his BlackBerry every morning. That practice, which started during the campaign, has continued.

President Obama wrapped up his interview with the "Catholic" press with a question on the Middle East and how his administration plans to address the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.


“We have been very clear that we think settlements should stop ...,” said the President. “On the other hand, it’s not just the problem of Israeli settlements. The Palestinians have a set of obligations, some of which the Palestinian Authority have met, some of which they have not been as strong on. We want to encourage them to clamp down on violence, to end the incitement that you still hear, unfortunately, in many Palestinian communities.”

He also cited the role of neighboring Arab states in normalizing relations with Israel and their responsibility for recognizing Israel’s existence, legitimacy, and security concerns.

“What the United States should be doing is holding a mirror to both sides and indicating how their failure to resolve this issue is undermining peace and security for both peoples,” concluded the President. “This is a topic that I’m looking forward to speaking with the Holy Father about, because I think that our position is going to overlap greatly with the position of the government of the Holy See.”

It should be noted that just prior to the meeting, those invited had the opportunity to speak with one another to agree on questions so that none of the invitees would be asking the same question. Each attendee was allowed one question, without the opportunity for a follow-up. Other individuals/print publications were invited to the meeting, but were unable to attend.

Those in attendance at the 41-minute meeting in the White House’s Roosevelt Room were Father Owen Kearns, editor in chief and publisher of the National Catholic Register, Joseph DuBois of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Initiatives, Denis McDonough of the National Security Council, Joseph Feuerherd of the The National Catholic Reporter, Father Drew Christiansen of America Magazine, Elena Molinari of Avvenire/Vatican Radio, Patricia Zapor of Catholic News Service, Dan Connors of Catholic Digest, Paul Baumann of Commonweal magazine, and Jacqueline Salmon of the The Washington Post.

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Obama's Pro-Abortion Record

"I Am Personally Responsible for over 75,000 Abortions"

*This video was made during the campaign to ban abortion in South Dakota. Bernard Nathanson repented of his ways and has became Catholic.*

100% of funds raised go directly to Pro-Life efforts
Randall Terry, founder Operation Rescue, addresses the assassination of George Tiller. Mr. Terry urges the pro-life movement to not surrender words and actions under the heavy opposition from child killers and the Obama administration.

This is, by far, the BEST prayer book I have ever read!

This is, by far, the BEST prayer book I have ever read!
Not just a prayer book for teens...but for people of all ages! You will LOVE it! Order your copy TODAY!

Books for Children

  • Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss
  • The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith, by Josephine Nobisso
  • The Princess and the Kiss, by Jennie Bishop
  • Angel in the Waters, by Regina Doman

More Recommended Reading

  • Abortion: Yes or No? by John L. Grady, M.D.
  • Changed ~ Making Sense of Your Own or a Loved One's Abortion Experience, by Michaelene Fredenburg
  • Ending Abortion Not Just Fighting It, by Fr. Frank A. Pavone, M.E.V.
  • Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), by Pope John Paul II
  • God Is Love, An Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI
  • Humane Vitae: A Challenge to Love, by Pope Paul VI
  • Is the Fetus Human? by Eric Pastuszek
  • Led by Faith, by Immaculee Ilibigiza
  • Left to Tell, by Immaculee Ilibigiza
  • Living the Gospel of Life ~ the pastoral statement issued by U.S. Catholic Bishops
  • Noise, by Teresa Tomeo
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe, Hope for the World by Dan Lynch
  • Render Unto Caesar, by Charles J. Chaput
  • The Way to Love, by Anthony De Mello
  • Won By Love, by Norma McCorvey

Dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe
Patroness of the Americas, Intercessor for the Pre-born
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