Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Obama and the VaticanJohn L Allen, Jr. in Vatican's moderate line on Obama has deep roots National Catholic Reporter 05/04/09 observes that the Vatican has been much friendlier in its treatment of President Obama than some American Catholic fundamentalists have been, like those trying to get him banned from speaking at Notre Dame University.
Allen sees a couple of basic reasons for this:
First, abortion has never been the overriding focus for conservative Catholic intellectuals and activists in Europe that it is in the United States. In Europe, the dominant issue tends to be the continent's Christian identity, which is often expressed in anti-EU activism or concern about the social impact of immigration. As a result, it does not come naturally for many European Catholics, including many in the Vatican, to evaluate leaders primarily through the lens of their policies on life issues.While the Vatican has generally opposed anti-immigrant extremism, it has promoted the "Europe's Christian identity" business.
There are other distinctions between the Vatican and the Catholic Church in Europe, on the one hand, and the American Christian Right on the other. Don't get me wrong: Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) is a reactionary in terms of his theology. And there is a tradition of Christian Democratic parties in Europe that gives the Vatican close allies among conservative politicians.
But Christian Democrats in Europe are not like American Republicans. The leader of the Partido Popular (PP) in Spain, a party closely aligned with the very conservative Church hierarchy there, said after the US election last November that the PP was a less conservative party than Obama. I haven't looked hard to see in what ways that might be true. But the point is that the conservative parties close to the Catholic hierarchies in their respective countries don't understand their politics in the way the US Republican Party understands theirs.
And the hardline rightwingers, those who would be impressed with European versions of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, don't tend to be aligned with overtly religious activists like US Republicans are. On the contrary, the European far right tends to be anti-clerical. Some of them promote kitschy "pagan" religions, something in America that people tend to associate more with tree-hugging New Agers.
Tags: christian right, pope benedict XVI
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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