President Obama and Pope Benedict met in Rome today. As reported by Reuters:

Obama and Benedict held private talks for about 40 minutes in the pope’s frescoed study in the Vatican’s apostolic palace and the Vatican said bioethics and life issues were a central part of the discussion.

In a surprise move, the pontiff gave Obama a booklet explaining Vatican opposition to practices such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research, which Obama supports.

The booklet was Dignitas Personae, described by the news service as the document that “defends life from conception to natural death.” And a Vatican statement issued after the meeting said the topics discussed included “the defense and promotion of life and the right to abide by one’s conscience.”

Here’s what the president will find in the opening sentences of the document:

The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death. This fundamental principle expresses a great “yes” to human life and must be at the center of ethical reflection on biomedical research, which has an ever greater importance in today’s world. The Church’s Magisterium has frequently intervened to clarify and resolve moral questions in this area. The Instruction Donum vitae was particularly significant. And now, twenty years after its publication, it is appropriate to bring it up to date.

The teaching of Donum vitae remains completely valid, both with regard to the principles on which it is based and the moral evaluations which it expresses. However, new biomedical technologies which have been introduced in the critical area of human life and the family have given rise to further questions, in particular in the field of research on human embryos, the use of stem cells for therapeutic purposes, as well as in other areas of experimental medicine. These new questions require answers. The pace of scientific developments in this area and the publicity they have received have raised expectations and concerns in large sectors of public opinion. Legislative assemblies have been asked to make decisions on these questions in order to regulate them by law; at times, wider popular consultation has also taken place.

No reason to pussyfoot around it, the Vatican said:

The pope’s private secretary told reporters after the meeting: “This reading can help the president better understand the Church’s position on these issues.”

“We know that this (abortion) is a crucial theme for the pope. There is no need to hide it. It (giving him the booklet) was an attempt to be clear, it was not polemical,” Lombardi said.

No reports that the pope compared Obama to Alexander the Great.


  1. Michael Bauman :

    And the EP is taking a boat tour down the Mississippi.

  2. Chris Banescu :

    Wonderful and powerful witness to the truth and the Christian faith by Pope Benedict. Puts to shame the pathetic “Alexander the Great” comparison done by the EP in trying to gain favor with Obama.

    14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

    17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

    20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:14-22)

  3. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Just to clarify the record, Abp. Demetrios, not the EP, made the “Alexander the Great” statement.

    What this shows overall however, is that Rome has a much clearer sense of the need for moral leadership in the present age, or, from the other direction, real leadership from religious authorities, particularly highly placed ones, must be moral in character.

    It also shows that Rome has become wise to the ways politicians manipulate religious leaders for their own ends. When Speaker Pelosi visited Rome several months back, the logistics of the visit were not controlled by her handlers. There was no photo op., just a quick discussion with the Vatican controlling the narrative (the Pope again affirmed a culture of life). The same appears to have happened in this visit with Pres. Obama.

    Orthodox leaders could take a page from the Roman book. The Mississippi River trip, despite the religious language employed in promoting it, is still primarily political. I doubt you would ever see even a Roman bishop endorsing it. The handling of Pres. Obama provides a stark contrast to the mishandling of the visit by Abp. Demetrios and the Greek lobby several months back.

  4. It is moments like this that show you how far the EP and the GOA have fallen. Pope Benedict is willing to teach the truth of about human life both in season and out of season. The man has pastoral responsibilities and could not care how popular he is on the Obama Radar. Pope Benedict understands that the Church can shape culture and the world.

    The EP and the GOA are allowing popular culture and fashionable fundamentalism to shape the Church. From the EP’s praising Castro, to +Demetrios’ Obama worship, to the left wing cruise down the Mississippi the Orthodox Faith is taking a back seat to ethnic and political fashion.

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