In his message of congratulation to President Obama on winning his second term Pope Benedict, and his press secretary, explicitly raised the issue of religious freedom. This re-iterates the concern raised by a senior US cleric on the eve of the election that Obama was the greatest threat to the religious freedom of the Catholic Church.
In his message the Holy Father expresses his best wishes to the president on his new mandate, and gives assurances of his prayers to God to help him carry out his serious responsibilities, both in his own country and within the international community. The Pope also speaks of his hope that the ideals of freedom and justice, which guided the founding fathers of the Unites States of America, may continue to shine out as the nation progresses.
Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. also made a brief comment on the re-election of President Obama. “As we all know”, he said, “the U.S. president has an immense responsibility, not only in his own country but also towards the rest of the world, given the role the U.S.A. plays at an international level”.
“For this reason we hope that President Obama will respond to his fellow citizens’ expectations, serving law and justice for the good and development of all people, and respecting essential human and spiritual values while promoting a culture of life and religious freedom”.
Edward Pentin reports:
The re-election of President Obama would be the greatest threat to religious freedom and to the Catholic Church in the history of the United States,” said one senior American Vatican official, speaking to Newsmax on condition of anonymity.’
The official’s view is somewhat typical of his American colleagues at the Vatican, well aware that the administration’s assault on religious liberty and its well established positions against life and traditional marriage strike at the heart of the Church and her teaching.
The administration’s HHS mandate, requiring Catholic employers to provide their employees with health insurance that includes contraception (abortifacients as well as other forms) in their health insurance plans, has merely hardened their opposition to Obama.
“It wasn’t necessary that he do it,” said another senior American official, “and the fact he went ahead anyway — that’s not a great sign.”
Whatever support President Obama has had here [Holy See] over the past four years, it has visibly dwindled. Some evidence of this can be found observing the attendance of cardinals and senior Vatican officials at receptions held by the U.S. embassy to the Holy See. Over the past four years, they have become conspicuous by their absence.
Protect the Pope comment: The Holy See’s and US bishops concerns about increasing attacks on Catholics religious freedom can be seen behind the recent synod’s recommendation that the Holy Father establish a Vatican version of Amnesty International or a Human Rights watch group. Proposition 16 states:
‘The Synod Fathers propose that the Holy Father consider the opportuneness of establishing a commission of Church leaders representing various parts of the Church throughout the world or entrusting this task to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, to address attacks on religious liberty, and to obtain accurate information for public witness to the fundamental right to religious freedom and freedom of conscience.’
If Pope Benedict decides to establish this Religious Freedom Watch Group it looks likely that President Obama and the Democrats are going to keep the new group busy over the next four years, if the last four are anything to go by. Viva Christo Rey!