Panorama: claim that Pres. Bush may convert to Catholicism

Wanna read an article typical of much of the Italian press?

Check this out.

Ignazio Ingrao of the Italian Panorama (n. 18/2008) has a strange item (my translation):

George W. Bush – The President of the United States, like Tony Blair, also about to covert to Catholicism.  A huge success for Papa Ratzinger.

After Tony Blair, there could be the turning of George W. Bush.  According to Washington voices, the President, a Methodist Christian, could be on the verge of converting to Catholicism like the Anglican Blair.  The prayer that the Pope and the Bush family recited together in the Oval Office of the White House could really be the sign of a conversion that has taken place, that the President of the United States would be waiting to communicate at the end of his term.  Jeb also, George’s younger brother, became Catholic years ago, thanks to his Mexican wife Columba.

Opportunism or conviction?  Certainly President Bush in 2004 was relected with the votes of Catholics, who preferred him to John Kerry, faithful to the Holy Catholic Church.  In any event, the President’s emotion when he greeting the Pope, when he had just arrived, beterayed sincere feelings.

Bush is surrounded by Catholics: the chief speechwriter, William McGurn, the bioethics consultant Edmund Pellegrino, the one charged with presidential initiatives concerning religion H. James Towey, two justices of the Supreme Court Samuel Alito and John Roberts, even the new Ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon.

At home in the Oval Office is even the Canadian priest convert Richard John Neuhaus, director of the Catholic monthly First Things.  To these is added a New York priest who is helping Bush in his spiritual search.

Benedict XVI could in this way go down in history  as the Pope of famous conversions.  Bush’s case would be the most  impressive outcome of the trip of the German Shepherd in the United States.  But not the only one.  The visit signaled the end of violent antipapal Protestantism, fueled by clashes of John Paul II first with Bill clinton, on ethical issues, then with Bush on the war in Iraq.  Benedict XVI didn’t give on these two fronts, in line with his predecessor, but managed to win the esteem of Americans.  The "vintage" Pope as the Washington Post defined him, playing on his habits, managed to reverse the judgment of the press and public opinion.  A well-known anchor of CNN, Wolf Blitzer, Jewish, after greeting the Pontiff, said that he had never experience such an emotion.

America was lying in wait to confront him with the scandal of priest pedophiles and Benedict XVI didn’t retreat: four times in six days he confronted the issue, expressing shame and meeting victims.  He may have even given a task to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to examine the possibility of updating the norms of the Code of Canon Law about the matter, as victims are asking.

Two other gestures will remain in the hearts of Americans: the prayer at Ground Zero and the visit to the synagogue.  The Pope held up the USA as a model to be followed: a freedom that allows all faiths to be expressed and to offer contributions to democracy.  Ratzinger, in sum, doesn’t fear competition.  As a book of three economists explains, The market of Christianity, the free markett of faiths rewards the one advances clear and recognizable propositions.  As Benedict XVI did.


A lot of this article is pure fantasy. 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. TNCath says:

    Fr. Z: “A lot of this article is pure fantasy.”

    Intuition, perhaps, but fantasy? Father, in the interview conducted on EWTN, Raymond Arroyo asked President Bush what he saw when he looked into the Pope’s eyes, to which the President replied, “God.”

    After seeing this interview and watching the reception on the South Lawn at the White House, I came to the same conclusion that President Bush might very well be a convert-in-the-making. Time will tell.

  2. pattif says:

    Whether or not “a lot of this article is pure fantasy”, whether or not such a conversion eventually comes to pass, at least President Bush starts from the position of believing (and acting in the light of that belief) a great deal of what the Church teaches on ethical issues. This is something for which to be thankful.

  3. Petrus says:

    This is the 3rd time i’ve heard this mentioned. I read….in the Post maybe? that Bush may be converting to Catholicism at the end of his term. That said, it would still surprise me big time if that happened.

  4. Mark says:

    “Pure Fantasy”? Which parts?

    Sounds more like interesting speculation to me. I’ve never witnessed such respect from a Protestant towards a Pontiff – perhaps there is something to this. We’ll have to see in time.

    Didn’t someone ask Bush what did he see in the Pope’s eyes? And Bush responded, “God”.

  5. Alli says:

    “Pure fantasy” indeed… especially that bit about John Kerry being faithful to the Church!

    But like Petrus, this is the third time or so that I’ve heard about this… I wonder… Of course, it takes a lot more than ideological similarities to have a true conversion.. like belief in the Sacraments, for one…

  6. Jason in San Antonio says:

    Not that we’d turn away anyone, but it’d just be another reason for all Bush-haters to hate the Catholic Church (which they usually do already, explicitly or implicitly).

    Just what we need. More haters. :)

  7. Fr Francis Coveney says:

    “Certainly President Bush in 2004 was relected with the votes of Catholics, who preferred him to John Kerry, faithful to the Holy Catholic Church.”

    Father, I wonder if in the original Italian “faithful to the Holy Catholic Church” was referring to the Catholics who preferred President Bush to Mr Kerry because of Mr Kerry’s unorthodox views on abortion.

  8. I am not saying that I think Pres. Bush’s possible conversion is fantasy. I hope it might actually come to pass. However, there are dimensions of this article that are beyond tenuous.

  9. pattif says:

    Hmm. John 15:18 springs to mind.

  10. Justinmartyr says:

    “However, there are dimensions of this article that are beyond tenuous.”

    Aw, don’t be a tease, Father — spell them out!

  11. Ken says:

    Might not be so far-fetched, his brother (Florida Gov) Jeb is a Catholic.

  12. Argent says:

    Certainly President Bush in 2004 was relected with the votes of Catholics, who preferred him to John Kerry, faithful to the Holy Catholic Church.

    I’m with Fr. Coveney wondering whether the “faithful to the Holy Catholic Church” referred to the voters or to John Kerry.

  13. Steve Ruyle says:

    I like the idea, but then again I like the idea of anyone converting to Catholicism.

  14. Templar says:

    Well, I give the idea more merit than the idea that Michelangelo was hiding messages in the Sistine Chapel ceiling. ;-)

  15. the faithful Catholics was not refering to Kerry, no worries…If Bush does convert it would not suprise me…ad multos anos viva il Papa

  16. T. Falter says:

    Jason said, “Not that we’d turn away anyone, but it’d just be another reason for all Bush-haters to hate the Catholic Church (which they usually do already, explicitly or implicitly).”

    Dear sir, that was rather broad and inaccurate generalization. Some would probably (mis)label me and many of my friends “Bush-haters,” yet we all love the Church, and all of Her teachings and traditions. I just happen to think Bush is a very bad president (but not much worse than all the presidents in the past, oh, 130 years or so). Many good Catholics agree.

    I would be elated for him to embrace the True Faith. In fact, I wish he would while he’s still president.

  17. Ashley Paver says:

    My guess is that “faithful” is being applied to Sen. Kerry, in the sense that he identifies himself as a Catholic, and in the sense that the Church uses that term to refer to the laity (and sometimes all Catholics) in general. I don’t think it is intended to imply a judgment about his actual fidelity to the Church and her teachings, perhaps beyond recognizing that his excommunication has not been declared. While the President’s adherence to many principles of Christian morality obviously exceeds Sen. Kerry’s, Sen. Kerry is “one of the faithful” in a way that the President, for the moment, is not.

    As to the substance of the article, it clearly is highly speculative, but its predictions are far from improbable. The President obviously has a great respect for the Church and the Papacy, and realises that the Church provides the best defence for many positions which he has gone to great lengths to support. That can easily lead someone to examine the claims of the Church to be a reliable guide to the fullness of the truth.

  18. Trey says:

    A lot of this is pure fantasy…

    Yeah, like this line… “John Kerry, faithful to the Holy Catholic Church”

  19. Trey says:

    President Bush starts from the position of believing (and acting in the light of that belief) a great deal of what the Church teaches on ethical issues. This is something for which to be thankful.

    This is true… Blair should have been made to repudiate his prior views

  20. magdalen says:

    I have had the same thought myself, especially after seeing the President
    with the Holy Father and his brother having already converted.

    I bet he will make a better Catholic than a certain other high profile
    ‘convert’ who seems to be of the cafeteria variety.

  21. Jason in San Antonio says:

    T. Falter,

    C’mon, we are reading WDTPRS–to what sort of “Bush-Haters” did you think I was referring? ;)

  22. Fr Francis Coveney says:

    What Does The Paper Really Say?

    “Certo il presidente Bush nel 2004 è stato rieletto con i voti dei cattolici, che lo hanno preferito al democratico John Kerry, fedele a Santa romana chiesa.”

    My apologies – Fr Z’s translation was accurate (of course!).

    I think it was a piece of sloppy writing in the original Italian
    which should have read “un fedele della Sancta romana chiesa” – literally “a believer of the Holy Roman Church” which is a rather elaborate way of saying “a Catholic”.

  23. Fr Coveney: Thanks for that. I did a double take when I read “fedele a Santa romana chiesa” (for more than one reason). I looked high and low for that missing “un” and then just went with what the Italian said.

  24. James says:

    This actually occurred to me years ago by seeing the reverence and respect the President used to show to Cardinal McCarrick and knowing that Jeb was Catholic as well. After the Pope’s visit I’m more convinced that ever that Bush will convert.

  25. Mike says:

    It would be nice if Bush would renounce torture, murder, aggressive war, ignoring the Bill of Rights, and most of his behavior in general, but I have no real hope of that, any more than I have hope that so-called “conservative Catholics” will become decent human beings.

  26. Mark Wyatt says:

    I wrote a blog piece the day of the interfaith meeting. I strongly considered writing a second one titled \”George Bush to convert to Catholicism?\” for many of the same reasona mentioned by some of your readers. I decided not to thinking it was way too specualtive.

  27. Only one of the odd statements is the one about “two justices of the Supreme Court”. In fact, five of the justices are Catholic, counting the rather disappointing Justice Kennedy.

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