First L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, ran an article giving Obama’s first 100 days a tentative thumbs-up. Then, as conservative Catholics in the U.S. were wringing their hands about the horror of Barack Obama’s scheduled appearance at Notre Dame, the newspaper–and the Vatican in general–was conspicuously silent. Then, when the paper did report on Obama’s speech, its calm, fairly positive take was in stark contrast to the furious reaction of many conservative Catholics here.
But this takes the cake. In an interview with an Italian newspaper the day after Obama’s speech, Giavonni Maria Vian, editor-in-chief of L’Osservatore Romano, seemed to forcefully push back against the view that Obama is a threat to Catholic values and religious freedom. “Obama has not upset the world,” said Vian. “His speech at Notre Dame has been respectful toward every position. He tried to engage the debate stepping out from every ideological position and outside every ‘confrontational mentality.’ To this extent his speech is to be appreciated.”
After reaffirming that the Vatican newspaper shares the American bishops’ staunch opposition to abortion, Vian went further. “What I want to stress is that yesterday, on this precise and very delicate issue, the President said that the approval of the new law on abortion is not a priority of his administration. The fact that he said that is very reassuring to me. It also underlines my own clear belief: Obama is not a pro-abortion president.”
Uh, oh. It sounds like the Vatican newspaper “doesn’t understand what it means to be Catholic.”