When the Vatican speaks to or about the president, does anything short of a direct phone call even reach him?

Someone asked me that in an email this week, out of concern that
Obama either doesn’t see the pope’s message, or hear about it. And if
he does, whether it would have any impact. The latter, who can say. But
sometimes the media carry reports of the Vatican’s reaction to laws and
decisions involving social policy, and they like to pose it as a
confrontation, of course.

Like Time does here.

With unusual speed, the Vatican has condemned Obama’s
Jan. 23 repeal of the ban on U.S. funding for foreign family planning
aid groups who offer abortion services.

Note the phrasing and here, aimed at directing readers’ sentiment
using favorable words like ‘groups who offer services’, never mind that
abortion terminates life. Follow the terminology.

The repeal fulfils a campaign promise Obama made to
pro-choice [pro-abortion] supporters. But if the late Friday afternoon
signing was an attempt to get the change in under the radar, it didn’t
work. Top Vatican officials, usually hesitant to respond directly to
Washington’s domestic policy decisions, pounced quickly. By Saturday
afternoon, the Holy See was emailing reporters the Sunday edition of
its official daily, L’Osservatore Romano, which features a front page headline describing Obama’s decision as “very disappointing.”

The same day, the secular Milan daily Corriere della Sera published an interview with a top Vatican official lashing out

lashing out? 

at the new U.S. President. Archbishop Rino Fisichella,
head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told the newspaper that the
repeal of the abortion-funding ban was done with “the arrogance of
those who, having power, think they can decide between life and death.”
Troubled by the swiftness of Obama’s pro-choice [pro-abortion] move,
Fisichella brushed off earlier vows by the new president to try to cut
the number of abortions, while ensuring a woman’s access to the
procedure. “On ethical questions, you can’t play with words,” said the
Italian Archbishop, considered close to Pope Benedict XVI. “Hiding
behind sophisms isn’t worthy of he who has a responsibility towards
citizens. People want clarity.”

That’s clarity.

It’s too early to predict a deep rupture in U.S.-Vatican relations.

(Then why raise it?)

There was no mention of the issue in Sunday’s regular
Angelus ceremony, and the Pope personally sent warm messages of
congratulations to Obama after both his election victory and
inauguration. But don’t count on Benedict staying silent as Obama
ushers in more liberal laws for abortion or stem cell research.

Embryonic stem cell research, to clarify.

At least they got the new CatholicVote.com ad in there.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....