Monday, April 13, 2009

From Sea to Holy See

Luckily, the Pope didn't demand that the annual White House Easter Egg Roll be canceled because President Obama invited gay families to attend.

On the other hand, it appears that the pontiff may be getting involved in the appointment process of Ambassador to the Vatican. The Telegraph first reported the story, Vatican blocks Caroline Kennedy appointment as US ambassador:

Vatican sources told Il Giornale that their support for abortion disqualified Ms Kennedy and other Roman Catholics President Barack Obama had been seeking to appoint.

Mr Obama was reportedly seeking to reward John F Kennedy's daughter, who publicly gave her support to his election bid. She had been poised to replace Hillary Clinton as New York senator, but dropped out amid criticism that she lacked enough experience for the job.

The Italian paper said that the Vatican strongly disapproved of Mr Obama's support for abortion and stem cell research. The impasse over the ambassadorial appointment threatens to cloud his meeting with the Pope during a G8 summit in Itay in July.
Of course, this little tidbit has brought tears of joy to the zealot wing of the GOP. For example, the conservative Washington ("Moonie") Times gleefully reports on the controversy, Vatican frowns on envoy prospects:
The Obama administration is having difficulty finding an ambassador to the Vatican, which has informally vetoed the appointment of Caroline Kennedy and other Roman Catholics who have supported President Obama, an Italian newspaper and Vatican specialists said Thursday.

'A trial of strength between Barack Obama and the U.S. church that involves the Holy See is under way,' the conservative Milan newspaper Il Giornale said Thursday in a report by Vatican correspondent Andrea Tornielli.

'The tenant of the White House is very criticized indeed for his choices in favor of abortion and use of stem [cell] embryos, while the impasse for the designation of the new U.S. ambassador in the Vatican continues,' Mr. Tornielli wrote. 'At least three names — but there are some that say more — of candidates … have been 'burned' even before the proposal of nomination could be made formally, because they were unwelcome to the church.'

The newspaper said those informally rejected include Ms. Kennedy and Douglas Kmiec, a professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University and former head of the Office of Legal Counsel for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Both candidates gave prominent endorsements to Mr. Obama during the presidential campaign.
I was just about ready to diss the pontiff when I read Amy Sullivan of Time's Swampland, who says it's not so. Responding to similar reports by Newmax, she notes, Obama’s Vatican Ambassador Rejected? No.:

You'll be shocked to learn this is not true. But oh how perfect it must have sounded to the Newsmax crew when they put out the story. Everyone knows Democrats aren't pro-life. And now Obama can't even get a Vatican ambassador approved--because there's not a single pro-life Catholic in the Democratic Party!

Unfortunately for them, John Thavis at Catholic News Service actually called over to the Vatican to ask about the rumors. Here's what he found:

Vatican sources said not only was the report inaccurate, but that its premise was faulty. The Vatican has not been in the habit of vetting the personal beliefs or ideas of candidates before accepting them as ambassadors, they said.

There have been occasions in the last two years when the Vatican has objected to ambassadorial candidates -- from Argentina, in the case of a divorced Catholic with a live-in partner, and from France, where the candidate was an openly gay Catholic in a union with another man.

"For Catholic ambassadors, there is the question of their matrimonial situation. But outside of that, I don't think there are other criteria," said one Vatican source.

Despite this denial, the media still claims that the Vatican has nixed the appointment. Perhaps this is all just based upon the ruminations of Raymond Flynn, himself a former Ambassador & Boston mayor, who is a strident pro-lifer. As the Boston Herald reports, Raymond Flynn says Caroline Kennedy no good for Vatican post:
Former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Raymond L. Flynn is giving a thumbs down to Caroline Kennedy as a potential pick for his former diplomatic post, saying the pro-choice values of JFK’s daughter would make the nod “a mistake.”

“It’s imperative, it’s essential that the person who represents us to the Holy See be a person who has a pro-life values. I hope the president doesn’t make that mistake,” Flynn told the Herald yesterday. “She said she was pro-choice. I don’t assume she’s going to change that, which is problematic.”

While I certainly wouldn't be surprised if the Vatican did try to interfere with the selection of Kennedy, I can't believe that it would have also black-balled Doug Kmiec, as was reported by the Moonie Times. Kmiec may have supported Obama, but he is otherwise a conservative Republican who is pro-life. There is no way the Pope would have objected to Kmiec.

However, if this is truly coming from the Vatican, then I agree with Steven Reynolds of All Spin Zone, who says that the Vatican shouldn't get involved in how our government operates, since we're still (mostly) a nation that doesn't have a state religion. See Vatican Running US Foreign Policy?.

If it is true, then I say we do as Michael Stickings of The Reaction suggests, Vatican rejects Caroline Kennedy as U.S. ambassador:

So the Vatican won't accept Caroline Kennedy as U.S. ambassador -- or anyone else who is pro-choice (and pro-stem-cell research)?

Tough, I say.

It won't happen -- not least because there are so many Catholic voters at home to placate -- but Obama ought simply to refuse to appoint an ambassador to the so-called Holy See. Why give in? Why appoint a pro-choicer just because that's what the Vatican wants? Why implicitly approve of the Roman Catholic Church's absolutist authoritarian positions on such issues -- that is, its moral extremism -- by appointing someone who approves of the Church's positions and of whom the Church approves?
That's right. Leave the spot vacant. Jacob of Contextual Criticism: Vatican is afraid of Caroline Kennedy expresses my thoughts best when he says:

Enter the pious prelates from Rome's heavenly realm. No, no, no, they said. She's pro-choice. We can't have anyone here who believes women should have the right to choose with regard to what they can do with their bodies! Furthermore, we can't have anyone within these holy precincts who favors stem cell research (even if those stem cells come from fetuses tossed in the garbage).

Now, the Roman Catholic Church is free to believe and promote whatever religious nonsense it so desires. Ironically, however, the majority of Catholics in the U.S. do not agree with nor follow the lead of the Vatican when it comes to issues such as abortion and contraception.

Nevertheless, it wouldn't make sense to appoint someone to the Holy See who is not wanted by the pompous papists in Vatican City.

An empty seat at the table would be just the thing.

1 comment:

Lugosi said...

Back in 1960 people were appalled by the idea that the Catholic church would be involved in the running of our government. JFK's Catholicism became an issue during the campaign for that very reason, and he had to publicly declare that the Pope would not end up telling him how to run his presidency.

I miss the good old days.