When the Pope Meets The President
Paul Kengor writes at National Catholic Register:
On April 16, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI will mark his 81st birthday with, among other things, a visit to the White House — only the second such visit by a pope in American history.(emphasis added)
There, he will sit down with President George W. Bush, who will have welcomed him the day before at Andrews Air Force Base.
The New York Times and National Public Radio can be expected to run analyses focusing on how this president and this Pope disagree on the war in Iraq, just as they did in every story they ran on President Bush and the late Pope John Paul II.
They will indeed have a very good point. The president’s critics, however, will play up this angle to the exclusion of almost all else.
In fact, the big story between this president and this Pope — as it was with this president and the last Pope — has been their remarkable unity on the sanctity and dignity of human life.
Yet, while the Vatican might think the White House is wrong on a dictator in a palace, it hopes and prays that the president will get it right on the defenseless in the womb. And when it comes to that, no president has been as solid as George W. Bush — on judges, legislation, executive orders, you name it.
From the outset, before he ever stepped foot into the Oval Office, Bush, as mere president-elect, held a private talk with abortion advocate Colin Powell, several weeks before naming Powell secretary of state.
He told Powell that as secretary of state he would be expected to purge any vestiges of the Clinton State Department’s program to promote global abortion rights. Powell told Bush that he understood and would follow his lead.
The change on abortion was immediate: On his first day in office, Bush authorized a ban on all U.S. funding of international abortion rights groups, reversing President Clinton’s previous executive order. It was a harbinger of the two terms of pro-life actions to come.
Further, George W. Bush also understands — are you listening, John McCain? — that being pro-life includes not only rejecting abortion but embryonic stem-cell research. He has spoken and acted eloquently on this and other life issues.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
George Weigel: Pope Unlikely to Denounce "Great Satan Bush"
"The Pope vs. The President: Two Right-Wing Powers Collide"
National Catholic Register: "A Pro-Life President"
Why Bush Gave Pope Benedict a Walking Stick