Vatican Newspaper Provides Obama’s 2012 Campaign Message

Deal W. Hudson
May 28, 2009

The 2012 Obama campaign message to Catholics has already been written. Here it is, conveniently laid out by the official Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, and its editor, Giovanni Maria Vian:

“[President Obama] is not a pro-abortion president.” – Giovanni Maria Vian, in an interview with a Vatican analyst from the Italian daily Il Riformista

“The president invited Americans of every faith and ideological conviction to ‘work in common effort’ to reduce the number of abortions.” – L’Osservatore Romano, on President Obama’s May 13, 2009, speech at the University of Notre Dame

For President Obama’s Catholic outreach effort, this is a dream come true. Obama’s Catholic advisers have received a virtual Vatican imprimatur on his abortion reduction message to Catholics. The Obama campaign, the Democratic National Committee, Catholics United, and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good will trumpet this message loudly and in unison.

It doesn’t matter that not everything published in L’Osservatore Romano represents the official position of the Vatican. That is a distinction that 99.9 percent of Catholic voters will neither know nor grasp. All that will matter on the ground is that the Vatican newspaper and its editor have confirmed what Obama’s Catholic supporters have claimed all along: Obama seeks a “common ground on abortion,” avoids harsh polemics, prudently seeks to “reduce abortions,” and cannot, therefore, be called “pro-abortion.”

The subliminal suggestion will be: The Vatican believes this, so why not you? This is how smart political campaigns use the media – especially media with an authoritative and respected voice. And what’s more authoritative and trustworthy to Catholics than the Vatican newspaper?

Thus far, there have been no statements from any Vatican official explaining that neither its newspaper commentary on Obama nor its editors should be treated as the official voice of the Vatican or the Holy Father.

Meanwhile, there have been two articles in L’Osservatore Romano over the past few days that acknowledge, for the first time, the U.S. bishops’ criticism of Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame. The second article also contained criticism from Francis Cardinal George of Obama’s decision to rescind the conscience protection laws for medical care personnel, and from Msgr. David Malloy, General Secretary of the USCCB, on Obama’s move to enlarge the scope of federally funded fetal stem cell research.

As the Catholic News Agency noted:

The two back to back articles in L’Osservatore Romano reflecting the U.S. episcopate’s critical stand to Obama have followed a series of complaints from several bishops and pro-life Catholics.

But these two articles are not sufficient to solve the problem created by L’Osservatore Romano‘s coverage of President Obama. No matter how many articles they now publish containing criticisms of the president, the two articles praising his first 100 days, his Notre Dame speech, and the statement Vian made to an Italian daily, all remain unchallenged. They still provide a legitimate copy for Obama’s 2012 campaign material.

Until the Vatican makes a statement officially distancing itself from the two articles in L’Osservatore Romano and Vian’s interview, the virtual imprimatur on the Obama White House remains intact. That statement should come from Rev. Federico Lombardi, S.J., the embattled director of the Vatican Press Office. But because he is not in charge of the Vatican newspaper, he will need the green light from either the Holy Father himself or the office of the Secretary of State, before he’s able to say what needs to be said.

This is one problem that could be easily solved before it grows into yet another unnecessary public controversy for the Vatican.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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