President Obama had a sit-down yesterday with religious editors, including our own Father Drew, in anticipation of his meeting with Pope Benedict XVI next week. There was no verbal train wreck, according to the participants. But, when he discusses anything that touches on theology, he sounds very much like the liberal Protestant he is. He is, of course, entitled to his beliefs, but he should be more judicious in how he applies his own principles to his speaking about the Catholic Church.
For example, after citing the influence of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin on his own career and thinking, the President said, "And so I know the potential that the bishops have to speak out forcefully on issues of social justice. ...There are going to continue to be areas where we have profound agreements and there are going to be some areas where we disagree. That’s healthy." I am not sure that all disagreements are healthy. Certainly, democracy without debate is unhealthy. But, I do not think it is "healthy" that the President disagrees with the Church on abortion. I think he – and all Americans who support abortion – are wrong and that what would be "healthy" is for them to recognize that they are wrong.
Most politicians, and all successful ones, want their interlocutor to see that they are in agreement or close to it. But, here, the President skates very close to the kind of relativism that is Pope Benedict’s biggest worry. Nor is abortion an issue where we can simply "agree to disagree." I do not see that the President grasps how or why the issue is foundational to our social justice tradition he is so quick to applaud.
The rest of it can be found here.