Friday, July 10, 2009

The Search For Common Ground

The Pope is meeting with President Obama today. The news outlets will widely sell the story as two great men meeting to have a merry time agreeing with one another on most things, then having a slight disagreement on how to handle abortion. This isn't the case. If there is any honesty in both of them, and I believe there is, then they cannot ignore the chasm that lies between them.

Yes, they agree on several things, including:
  • stewardship of the environment
  • helping the poor
  • wider access to medical care
  • the rights of the worker
  • need to have stronger families
  • arms control
  • etc.
But, we should not make the mistake of thinking that because they agree on some goals, that they agree on how they should be achieved. Here is where the best dialogue can happen - common goals and how we get results.

On the other hand, they disagree on a lot as well:
  • abortion
  • euthanasia
  • birth control
  • rights of medical workers
  • fetal stem cell research
  • cloning
  • Middle East peace process
  • etc.
So, when the reports start coming out. Make sure you are able to sort through the fluff and the bad analysis. The nitty-gritty will come officially from the Vatican, and even then you might have to read between the lines somewhat.


Kevin said...

I found the following story on NPR's Morning Edition interesting when I heard it this morning.

It follows some of the paths that are described above, but the main source is the NCR's John Allen.

And then there's this quote from Allen:

"In the United States, abortion tends to be the defining social and political issue and everything else, in a way, takes second place, whereas in Europe that has never been the case. So even for the most conservative Catholics in Europe, they don't evaluate political leaders exclusively through the basis of their positions on abortion and other so-called life issues," he says.

It leads me to wonder how much of the focus on life issues in America is an "American" Catholic perspective, rather than a more universal Catholic perspective. Might the Church outside of America weigh the issues discussed by Benedict XVI and Obama differently than we see in America?

Marcel said...

The Pope has consistently taught that no right matters, if the fundamental right to life is left out. American Catholics are more in tune, politically-speaking, with the mind of the Church than Europeans, who have lost the sense of the Church's teaching informing their policy-making.