Time Magazine has a section online named “Swampland”, which seems appropriate for pretty much the whole publication.
Here is some “insight” from one Amy Sullivan, who has alas received our attention before, here.
Joe Biden’s Secret Meeting with the Pope
By Amy Sullivan Thursday, June 16, 2011 | 11 Comments
Late last week, the White House released a photo of Vice President Joe Biden meeting with Pope Benedict during a recent trip to Italy. The meeting, which was unannounced and appeared on neither man’s official schedule, took Vatican watchers by surprise. But many were even more thrown by the Vatican’s silence about the papal audience. [Note the terms used. A “meeting” is a sort of “audience”, but “meeting” seems as if it were organized, purposeful, with an agenda other than merely the chance to see the Pope.]
Biden is the first Catholic vice president and the highest-ranking Catholic in the U.S. government. [Well… yes, he is next in the line of succession. But, does that make him the “highest ranking”? I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the Speaker of the House, though third in line in succession, has more power and influence. Am I wrong?] When then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (also Catholic) [welllll…] met with Pope Benedict in February 2009, the Vatican seemed to go out of its way to emphasize the fact that Pelosi received a papal lecture about her support for abortion rights. A statement released after the meeting said that the Pope “briefly greeted” Pelosi, [Which is probably what happened with V.P. Biden.] and then “His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.” [That’s what Pope’s do… and she was lucky to receive it.]
[Get this…] The Vice President supports abortion rights as well, although unlike Pelosi he has also said he accepts church teaching that life begins at conception. [Isn’t that really worse?] And yet, in what Catholic News Service called “an unusual move,” the Vatican did not comment on Biden’s papal audience. [Probably because the meet and greet didn’t mean anything.] The only official mention of the meeting was a one-sentence summary in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reporting after the fact that the audience took place. [Because that is how these audiences are reported.]
Biden’s conservative critics [Rather… Catholic critics…?] will be disappointed that the Pope did not choose to publicly remind Biden of the church’s opposition to abortion. [Or… it is a sign of how little influence he is considered to have?] During the 2008 campaign, several U.S. Catholic leaders, including Archbishop Charles Chaput in Denver, criticized Biden’s position on abortion and said he should refrain from taking communion. The Pope himself wrote a memo to U.S. bishops in 2004 (as then-Cardinal Ratzinger) supporting the practice of denying communion to Catholic politicians who consistently vote in support of abortion rights. [And V.P. Biden affirms that human life begins at conception.]
No one is saying why the Pope chose not to make an example out of Biden on the occasion of their meeting. But the Vice President is no doubt offering a few prayers of thanks for that silence. [I wonder.]