April 6, 2008


The America of Benedict XVI, a Model for Catholic Europe (Sandro Magister, April 4, 2008, Chiesa)

For Benedict XVI the United States is a model to be imitated by all. It is the country born and founded "on the self-evident truth that the Creator has endowed each human being with certain inalienable rights," among the first of which is liberty.

With this pope, the United States is no longer held up for scolding by the Vatican authorities. Until a few decades ago, it was tasked with being the temple of Calvinist capitalism, of social Darwinism, of the electric chair, with a hair trigger in every corner of the world.

Today these paradigms seem to have been set aside to a great extent. The Church of Rome vigorously contested the military attack on the Iraq of Saddam Hussein. Even Benedict XVI. But it is not now pressing for the withdrawal of the soldiers. It wants them to remain there "on a peacekeeping mission," including the defense of the Christian minorities.

In any case, the general judgment on the United States has shifted to the positive, to the same extent that judgments on Europe have become more pessimistic. To ambassador Glendon, Benedict XVI said that he admires "the American people's historic appreciation of the role of religion in shaping public discourse," a role that in other places – read, Europe – is "contested in the name of a straitened understanding of political life." With the consequences that stem from this on the points that are most crucial to the Church, like "legal protection for God's gift of life from conception to natural death," marriage, the family.

The Church of Rome has more often found itself in harmony with the Republican presidents, from Reagan to Bush Sr. and Jr., than it has with the Democrat Clinton, precisely because of the greater dedication of the former to safeguarding life and promoting religious freedom in the world. In Cairo in 1994, and in Beijing in 1995, at the two international conferences convened by the United Nations on the demographic question and on women, both held during the Clinton presidency, the delegation of the Holy See fought tenaciously against the United States and Europe, which wanted to incentivize abortion in order to reduce births in poor countries.

And who led the Vatican team in Beijing? Mary Ann Glendon, a former feminist, a law professor at Harvard University later appointed by John Paul II as president of the pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, and today a United States ambassador. Her speech in Beijing fell like a sharp sword: "Does the conference want to combat the violence suffered by women? Very well. Then let's take note of this. Among these forms of violence are mandatory birth control programs, forced sterilizations, pressure to abort, sex selection and the consequent destruction of female fetuses."

In a collection of her essays just released in Italy, published by Rubbettino, Mary Ann Glendon again criticizes what happened in Beijing and in the following years. She accuses rich countries of cutting off financial aid, preferring the shortcut of abortion and zero cost population curbs. Above all, she accuses the secular Western elites of replacing the "full, rich, balanced" language of the universal declaration on human rights with the "mediocre jargon" of individual desires without duties or responsibilities. Her indictment has been republished by "L'Osservatore Romano."

For these same reasons, on multiple occasions in recent years the Vatican authorities have criticized the UN and the European Union.

The final success of the Reformation can be seen in the fact that he's most at home here.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 6, 2008 6:42 AM

Don't forget the Catholic Supreme Court.

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 6, 2008 8:36 AM

We still seem to get a lot of grief from the Vatican about the relatively minimal number of executions we carry out. Some dipstick cardinal was quoted the other day about how any overturning of a death sentence is a victory for human dignity. He was talking, of course, about Mumia Abu Jamal.

If there's anybody who needs to be executed for the sake of the protection of the common good, it's a guy who murdered a cop in cold blood and is a celebrity precisely on that account.

Posted by: Random Lawyer at April 6, 2008 4:05 PM