July 13, 2009

Obama, The Pope and Townsend

According to Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Obama better represents Catholics than the Pope.Wacky?Absolutely. Surprising?Not at all.Many Catholic Democrats, as well as Catholics with other or no political affiliations, routinely ignore Catholic doctrine. For Newsweek, Kennedy Townsend writes:
Pope Benedict XVI and President Barack Obama meet for the first time, an affair much anticipated and in some circles frowned upon by American Catholics in the wake of Obama's controversial Notre Dame commencement speech in May. Conservatives in the church denounced Obama's appearance as a nod by the premier Catholic university to a conciliatory politics that heralds the start of a slippery moral slope.In truth, though, Obama's pragmatic approach to divisive policy (his notion that we should acknowledge the good faith underlying opposing viewpoints) and his social-justice agenda reflect the views of American Catholic laity much more closely than those vocal bishops and pro-life activists. When Obama meets the pope tomorrow, they'll politely disagree about reproductive freedoms and homosexuality, but Catholics back home won't care, because they know Obama's on their side. In fact, Obama's agenda is closer to their views than even the pope's.WHAT?"Catholics back home won't care, because they know Obama's on their side."That's a problem. Kennedy Townsend concludes with this incredible statement:
The pope has a lot to learn about Catholic politics in America. Barack Obama can teach him."Catholic politics in America" isn't the concern of the Pope. The Holy Father is the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, over a billion Catholics. Obama sat in the pews of Jeremiah Wright's church for twenty years. He joined Wright's church and abandoned it out of political expediency. Obama is hardly a man worthy of representing Catholics on matters of faith.And yet we're supposed to buy that Obama better represents American Catholics?It all depends what the meaning of "better represents" is.I think it's accurate to say that Obama better represents the views of lapsed Catholics. I think Obama is the one who has a lot to learn. Pope Benedict can teach him.

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