vatican

Trump, Pope Have Opportunity to Forge Meaningful Alliance

Deal W. Hudson
May 23, 2017

When the pope and the president meet in the Apostolic Palace — the official residence of the pope in Vatican City — this Wednesday, they will be setting a much-needed example for a nation convulsed by post-election tantrums. Conservative speakers are disinvited on college campuses, conservative professors become objects of career-ending derision, the major media is obsessed with destroying the Trump presidency. Meanwhile, the Democratic leadership shouts curse words and raises their middle fingers at the man America sent to the White House.

But these two men, who have exchanged harsh words in the past, and differ on significant public policy issues, are going to meet, converse, while seeking a better relationship — and greater mutual understanding.

Yet, we can be sure that whatever is wise or hopeful coming out of this first meeting will be ignored by the press, which will have already scripted a narrative of disaster and disagreement. On July 23, 2001, President George W. Bush and Pope John Paul II (now St. John Paul II) met for the first time. Their meeting could not have been more amicable. I met with the president at the U.S. Embassy immediately afterwards. Bush was filled with enthusiasm at meeting “that great pope of yours.”

But, press accounts of the encounter focused on the one caution that Pope John Paul II expressed to the president; about his upcoming decision whether to allow federal funding for fetal stem cell research.

In his speech at Castle Gandolfo — just southeast of Rome — the Pope decalred, “In defending the right to life . . . America can show the world . . . (that) man remains the master not the product of his technology.” The BBC headline read, “Pope warns Bush on stem cells.” While The New York Times headline told the same story,”Pope Urges Bush to Reject Embryo Research.”

On Aug. 9, 2001 President Bush went on television for the first time, announcing his decision not to fund research on new lines but allow research on lines already in use to continue. His speech to the American people did not entirely conform to the wish of the pope, but President Bush made the basis of his decision loud and clear, “I also believe human life is a sacred gift from our Creator. I worry about a culture that devalues life, and believe as your president I have an important obligation to foster and encourage respect for life in America and throughout the world.”

When President Trump arrives at the Vatican he faces a more complex scenario, but one not without parallels to Bush’s 2001 visit. The president has made his pro-life convictions extremely clear in campaigning, in his inaugural address, and with his executive orders.

In fact, President Trump has been noticeably more open about anti-abortion issues than the 43rd president. Pope Francis will find common ground with Trump on the defense of innocent life and some related issues — though not on immigration.

Unlike 2001, when both the pope and the president shared opening remarks with journalists present, this meeting will take place almost entirely in private with journalists having very limited access. Two journalists and five photographers will be permitted to witness them shaking hands in the antechamber to the Papal Library, and sitting at the opposite sides of a table in the library itself. After less than a minute, everyone will leave except for the pope, the president, and a translator.

Journalists will clock the length of the meeting, comparing it to the 50 minutes Obama spent with Pope Francis in March 2011, though visits normally run 20 to 30 minutes.

The press will then be allowed back in the library to watch the traditional exchange of gifts along with whatever words are used to explain the significance of the gifts. This will be, in my opinion, the most vulnerable media moment for President Trump since the Pope usually gives visiting dignitaries copies of his encyclicals, “Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Si’,” and “Amoris Laetitia,” which contain any number of themes that could be used as headline fodder.

Even if the official statement from the Vatican press office contains nothing but a record of cordial conversation and exchange of ideas, the mainstream media will be scrutinizing every detail of the meeting for a hook upon which to hang their agreed-upon headlines about; perhaps headlines that would read, “Pope Francis Reminds Trump Not to Build Walls” or “Pope Francis Calls Upon Trump to Sign the Paris Agreement.” In other words, no mention of shared purpose or common ground will allowed into the reporting narrative.

Regardless of the subsequent headlines, I believe the meeting will be fruitful on many levels. Both President Trump and Pope Francis have outgoing, warm personalities which will immediately remove whatever tensions might be present at the beginning.

And the president has already shown a willingness (distressing to some) to reconsider strongly-articulated policy positions. Donald Trump is not afraid to compromise, for the sake of building a relationship important for the future of his administration.

Pope Francis knows that, in November of 2016, more than half of Catholic U.S. voters supported Trump over his liberal rival Hillary Clinton. He also knows those same voters ignored both the pope’s and U.S. bishops’ attempts to make the presidential election about immigration.

Catholic voters simply didn’t care that Trump was at odds with church hierarchy on immigration. Both Pope Francis and the bishops should know well by now, that last year they didn’t fully comprehend how Americans really felt about the challenges facing America.

Pope Francis has some fence-mending of his own to do, and, I believe, he will.

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Vatican Stance on Procreation Appears at Odds With Church Teaching

Deal W. Hudson
March 7, 2017

On March 3, many Catholics were shocked to read that Vatican conference speaker, Peter Raven remarked, “Pope Francis has urged us to have fewer children to make the world more sustainable.” The notion that the Pope would say such a thing strained credulity. However, the clarification published three days later does not put the mind at rest regarding the current Vatican thinking on life issues.

LifeSiteNews now reports that Peter Raven, the botanist/environmentalist who addressed the Vatican conference, said the following: “We need at some point to have a limited number of people which is why Pope Francis and his three most recent predecessors have always argued that you should not have more children than you can bring up properly.”

This comment makes two assertions I find very troubling, as do, I am sure, many other Catholics. Just what is meant by “you should not have more children than you can bring up.” Am I assuming incorrectly that that this refers to, among other things, an appraisal of financial resources? If so, and I believe I am correct, good Catholics should consult their bank accounts and their earning ability before bringing a new life into the world.

I want to ask Pope Francis these questions, “What is the financial formula for making such an appraisal? Just what, in your opinion, does a child cost to ‘bring up properly'”?

While I am not denying the commonsense of the matter, I am questioning the wisdom of attributing to the Holy Father an assertion containing the words “should not” regarding the conceiving of children, especially when the determinative factor is financial. To say “should” implies those addressed should feel a duty, an obligation, to regard children in this way. Such a duty makes conception first an act of “deciding’ rather than freely given love between a husband and wife.

How is this different from the logic of the population-control crowd who are always espousing abortion and contraception in order to “save the earth”? How is this different from the assumptions of the 1968 book, “The Population Bomb,” written by Paul Ehrlich who was also recently hosted at the Vatican conference?

I began looking randomly at the family backgrounds of famed Catholic prelates and quickly found that “Dagger John Hughes,” the Archbishop of New York City, was the third of seven children to an Irish tenant farmer and his wife. The family was so poor that John was taken out of school and put to work, first on the farm then as an apprentice gardener. As Archbishop between 1842 and 1864, “Dagger John” fought off anti-Catholicism, founded the first independent Catholic school system, and laid the cornerstone for St. Patricks Cathedral.

Such examples would be easy to multiply by the thousands if one were to trace the lives of children, not only Catholic, from large, impoverished families. And this is not to imply that large families are justified by the accomplishments of their children, but rather to illustrate how the admonition of Genesis 1.28 — “be fruitful and multiply” — contains a superior internal logic to that of considering the cost of raising a child “properly.”

The second troubling implication of Raven’s comment is his claim that the three previous popes — Benedict XVI, St. John Paul II, and John Paul I — similarly argued that parents should determine the cost of raising a child before “deciding” to bring one into the world. In “Familiaris Consortio,” St. John Paul II wrote, husband and wife “…..become cooperators with God for giving life to a new human person. Thus the couple, while giving themselves to one another, give not just themselves but also the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love, a permanent sign of conjugal unity and a living and inseparable synthesis of their being a father and a mother” (FC 14).

Benedict XVI encouraged large families on a trip to Valencia in 2006, eschewing the kind of calculation described by Raven and seconded by Pope Francis. At one parish he was presented with several families — “one family was virtually a ‘parish,’ it had so many children! The presence and witness of these families really was far stronger than any words. They presented first of all the riches of their family experience: how such a large family truly becomes a cultural treasure, an opportunity for the education of one and all, a possibility for making the various cultural expressions of today coexist, the gift of self, mutual help also in suffering” (August 31, 2006).

During his short papacy, John Paul I delivered only one formal address on marriage and the family during an “ad limina” visits of bishops. It contains nary a mention of calculating the cost and deciding on the conceiving of children: “Let us never grow tired of proclaiming the family as a community of love: conjugal love unites the couple and is procreative of new life; it mirrors the divine love, is communicated, and, in the words of Gaudium et Spes, is actually a sharing in the covenant of love of Christ and his Church (par. 48). We were all given the great grace of being born into such a community of love; it will be easy for us to uphold its value” (Emphasis added).

Peter Raven, thus, is dead wrong to claim that the three popes before Pope Francis agree with him on the “need at some point to have a limited number of people” so they can be raised “properly.”

Such thinking coming out of the Vatican presently, from Pope Francis and his closest advisors to those being feted at Vatican conferences, bears an ideological stamp rather than that of Church teaching. It appears to me that the Vatican is channeling the spirit of George Soros rather than any other.

Read Newsmax: Vatican Stance on Procreation Appears at Odds With Church Teaching | Newsmax.com
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