Catholic Herald (UK) – Wm. Oddie opines about Pres. Obama

From William Oddie of the UK’s best Catholic weekly, the Catholic Herald comes this strong opinion piece about the President of the United States.   I generally dismiss transatlantic views of any POTUS.  This commentary, however, caught my attention because it concerns the President and the Catholic Church.  He also quotes at length from Archbp. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis, my native place.

PS: For a few days more you can still get the discount on the digital full version of the weekly edition of the Catholic Herald.

My emphases and comments.

Why Barack Obama has to be seen as an enemy of the Catholic Church

We need to be alert: he is not without influence, even on this side of the pond

By William Oddie on Friday, 25 February 2011

Is Barack Obama the most anti-Catholic American president in living memory?

I don’t mean, of course, that he has openly attacked the Church (though it was noted that, at his inauguration as president, contrary to normal practice there was among the clergy invited to attend not one single Catholic, though he made a point of inviting the controversial — because openly and actively homosexual — Episcopalian (i.e. Anglican) bishop, Gene Robinson). [A good observation.  And now Pres. Obama has directed his administration not to defend federal law regarding marriage.  Interesting.  No?  Pres. Obama considers DOMA unconstitutional.]

What I mean, though, is that across the whole spectrum of contemporary moral issues, he is passionately committed to a series of views which run directly contrary to those of the Church. All this has caused at least one Catholic bishop (there are probably others) to call him anti-Catholic.

VOTE FOR WDTPRSAs  a Senator, [which wasn’t all that long] he supported sex education, to be provided by Planned Parenthood, to children of five years old. He consistently voted for abortion, including partial birth abortion. He voted (twice) against Bills prohibiting public funding of abortions; he voted in favour of expanding embryonic stem cell research; he voted against notifying parents of minors who had undergone out-of-state abortions; he voted for a proposal to vote $100,000,000 for the funding of sex-education and contraceptives (including abortifacients) for teenagers; he opposed the “Born Alive Infants Protection Act” on the Senate floor and in 2003 killed the bill in committee. [Consistent with what he did when still in Illinois.] This would have outlawed “live birth abortion,” where labor is induced and an infant is delivered prematurely and then allowed to die.

In the US, Catholics, of course, have noted all this, though their reaction to it has been inconsistent to say the least. [Other words come to mind, including “feckless”.] In April 2009, the supposedly Catholic University of Notre Dame scandalously conferred on him an honorary degree. [A law degree.] Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St Paul and Minneapolis [with many others] protested, and demanded that the invitation be withdrawn. His letter, to the president of Notre Dame, Fr  John Jenkins (a Catholic priest, if you please) was a real stonker:

“Dear Father Jenkins:

“I have just learned that you, as President of the University of Notre Dame, have invited President Barack Obama to be the graduation commencement speaker at the University’s exercises on May 17, 2009. I was also informed that you will confer on the president an honorary doctor of laws degree, one of the highest honors bestowed by your institution.

“I write to protest this egregious decision on your part. President Obama has been a pro-abortion legislator. He has indicated, especially since he took office, his deliberate disregard of the unborn by lifting the ban on embryonic stem cell research, by promoting the FOCA [Freedom of Choice Act] agenda and by his open support for gay rights throughout this country.

“It is a travesty that the University of Notre Dame, considered by many to be a Catholic University, should give its public support to such an anti-Catholic politician.

“I hope that you are able to reconsider this decision. If not, please do not expect me to support your University in the future.

“Sincerely yours,

“The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis”

Obama now has the institution of marriage in his sights. He last year issued a “proclamation” (which you can read on the White House website) on the occasion of the “Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Pride month”, indicating his intention to “give committed gay couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple, and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act….”, and his conviction that  “An important chapter in our great, unfinished story is the movement for fairness and equality on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.” [Be sure to listen to my PODCAzT about the 2003 CDF document on same-sex “marriage.]

The Defense of Marriage Act was, ironically, signed into law by another Democratic President, Bill Clinton. Under the law no state (or other political subdivision within the United States) needs to treat as a marriage a same-sex relationship considered to be a marriage in another state; it defines marriage clearly as a legal union between one man and one woman.  It passed both houses of Congress by large majorities:  Obama has no chance of getting it repealed. So he is now doing what he can to undermine it.  This is where things get complicated for a limey who doesn’t quite understand the  convolutions of the American legal system. [I think he’s got it.  By Jove, I think he’s got it.]

According to the CNS,

“In a Feb. 23 statement, Attorney General Eric Holder said that although the administration has defended the 1996 law [i.e. the Defense of Marriage Act] in some federal courts, it will not continue to do so in cases pending in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Unlike in the previous cases, said Holder, the 2nd Circuit ‘has no established or binding standard for how laws concerning sexual orientation should be treated’.”

This, apparently, is enough to impede the Act’s operation, enough, at least, seriously to alarm the American Catholic Bishops: here’s CNS again:

The U.S. bishops’ Office of General Counsel said the Obama administration’s decision to no longer support the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges ahead “represents an abdication” of its “constitutional obligation to ensure that laws of the United States are faithfully executed.[Don’t President’s take an oath to uphold the Constitution?]

“Marriage has been understood for millennia and across cultures as the union of one man and one woman,” the office said in a statement issued Feb. 23 after President Barack Obama instructed the Justice Department to stop defending the federal law passed by Congress and signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton.

That’s how things stand. How much effect in practice will Obama’s initiative actually have? Maybe someone who understands American jurisprudence better than I do can explain. At the very least, as the American bishops say, refusal to support the law is “a grave affront to the millions of Americans who both reject unjust discrimination and affirm the unique and inestimable value of marriage as between one man and one woman.

What next? The fact is that on this side of the pond, as well as in the US, President Obama needs watching. He may have been weakened in the Congress: but a President of the United States always has considerable power, to do evil as well as to do good. He is much more popular in many European countries than he is in the States: and he is not without his influence here. A man who is admired and respected as much as he has been, and in many places still is, can do harm through his words and deeds, even where he has no direct power.

I think he ought to be admired and respected very much less than he is.

I am sure this will rouse some commentary.  Let the comments be civil, or I will lock you out.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Centristian says:

    That the President is an “enemy” of the Church is a statement that can be defended because his policies and objectives do directly conflict with the moral teachings of the Church. At the same time, however, I don’t get the sense that he means to be, actively, an “enemy” of the Catholic Church. It’s more of an accidental result of his beliefs and political objectives, if you will. I do not think it follows, then, that he is actually “anti-Catholic”, at least not as I understand that term. To me that term implies that he is actually prejudiced against Catholics and makes a conscious effort to thwart or disenfranchise them. I don’t believe that is the case.

  2. EXCHIEF says:

    Good assessment. And, there is more than one Constitutionsal lawyer out there making a good argument that Obama’s decision not to uphold and defend the law of the land is grounds for impeachment. In my view there is little to be lost and a lot to gain if some gutsy members of Congress do initiate impeachment proceedings.

  3. AnAmericanMother says:

    I think you could impeach but not get a conviction in the Senate, and I’m not sure we want to give this president any opportunity to paint himself as a martyr (see clinton, william jefferson).

    I don’t think the president is specifically anti-Catholic, he’s just anti- anybody that stands in the way of his goals. And those goals appear to be purely utilitarian, e.g. abort inconvenient babies, send the sick and elderly to the “death panels”, encourage unions to employ violence against his opponents, etc.

    Look at the way he has treated individuals who have dared to question him (e.g. Joe the Plumber, etc.) Since abortion is one of his big causes (or at least a big cause of his donors/supporters) he will oppose any organized group that works for the right to life.

    This sort of hubris reminds me of another Democrat, Boss Tweed (“So what are you going to do about it?”)

  4. shane says:

    I think this piece gives too much significance to Obama as an individual. In truth Barack Obama represents modern society – of which he is a product – more than he ‘leads’ it. His views on those issues are unfortunately very popular, not just in the United States, but across the whole western world. In the UK, the average politician is way more liberal than Obama on all those issues.

    Is Obama an enemy of the Church? Of course. But the Church has a lot of enemies, and he’s fairly well down in the list IMHO.

  5. Faith says:

    Obama is a politician. Shane is correct when he says Obama is a product of the culture and represents the popular view. Just look at the NY Times poll on voting for same sex marriage.
    As for Obama being an enemy of the Church, I don’t think he even bothers to think about us, or any religion. I think he believes in God, but not religion.

  6. Bornacatholic says:

    When Notre Dame du Lac conferred that Law Degree upon that most radical of all POTUS Bishop D’Arcy, publicly, in a letter stated that Notre Dame du Lac must undertake actions to heal the breach they caused.

    Of course no such action was taken nor was it anticipated by Joey Bagadoughnuts Catholic that action would be taken.

    The Catholic Hierarchy is to blame for this state of affairs. They decided to work with their enemy and look at how low we have sunk. This extreme left radical has kicked the Church’s butt from here to Tahrir Square in Egypt.

    Cairo, Egypt. Oh yeah, that’s right. That is where Barack Hussein Obama chose to give his first major speech after his election. Cairo, Egypt; the home of Al Azhar, the Holy See of Islam if you will. And in that speech, The POTUS read-out a fabulous farrago of historical lies festooned with Islam’s false claims to this, that, and the other accomplishments and inventions. And in that Speech, Barack Hussein Obama promised; And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.

    I knew he was anti-country before noticing he was anti-country was cool.

    Look at the Church he went to and the white-hate Doctrine of his American-Hating Pastor, Jeremiah Wright (who gave an award to Libya’s Qaddafi) and that tells you what you need to know about this man.

    But, our Catholic Bishops, and the Pope, do not appear to have the first clue that he is an enemy of the West in General and the Catholic Church in particular and so he doggedly and determinedly, day after day, continues to do what he can to make America pay for what he thinks is our historical sins and crimes against blacks.

    Was there even one Catholic Bishop who read his AutoBios (he wrote TWO) in which he confessed that when he toured European Capitals he found not one thing to admire there. Not ONE thing; not the Cathedrals; not the Architecture; not the people; nada, zip, zero.

    How is it even possible for Catholic Bishops to be so out-of-touch with reality?

    Somewhere, Satan is having a belly laugh

  7. Tony Layne says:

    I have to agree with Centristian: Pres. Obama is not consciously anti-Catholic. However, he is the perfect child of the SDS, the Weathermen, the Black Panthers and a whole host of other ’60s movements which took for their starting premise that all their parents’ moral values were responsible for everything they didn’t like about the America of 1960. If he’s a liar, it’s because he was brought up in a society where truth is taught in most universities to be subjective, where politicians are expected to lie, where the statement, “It all depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is,” somehow manages to be sensible and sober instead of a prime example of logical-positivist idiocy. I tried to cut him some slack; I tried to feel sorry for him because there was no way any man could live up to the pre-election hype he generated. But no more: Barack H. Obama is the rope Capitalism sold the Bolsheviks to be hung with.

  8. JimGB says:

    Mr. Obama holds firmly to beliefs that are the antithesis of those of the Catholic Church. While he claims to have been a friend of the late Cardinal Bernadin, obviously the late Cardinal was not able to wield influence comparable to that of Rev. Wright. Mr. Obama’s record speaks for itself. While he would not openly denigrate or persecute Catholics (he needs the vote of the gullible ones next year), his approach is more insidious in that he comes across as one who is sincerely interested in building bridges and finding common ground while his actions and those of his minions seek to undermine the authority and teachings of the Church. (cf. Sr. Keenan and her infamous pen).

  9. Supertradmum says:

    An enemy of the Church is simply a person who is an enemy of Truth. The fact that this man is a post-modern progressive, Black Liberation Theology proponent, who does not believe in Natural Law Philosophy, or the superiority of Western Civilization, or the place of religion in the public sphere has been obvious since I first heard him in Illinois in 2004.

    Did not Christ simply say, “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” Matthew 12:30

    The man is a god unto himself and respects neither God nor the Law. Therefore, he is an enemy of the One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is the Body of Christ.

  10. catholicmidwest says:

    Are people only just now figuring this out????

  11. At the same time, however, I don’t get the sense that he means to be, actively, an “enemy” of the Catholic Church. It’s more of an accidental result of his beliefs and political objectives, if you will. I do not think it follows, then, that he is actually “anti-Catholic”, at least not as I understand that term. To me that term implies that he is actually prejudiced against Catholics and makes a conscious effort to thwart or disenfranchise them. I don’t believe that is the case.

    I think Obama has deliberately and intentionally pitted himself against the Catholic Church. He HAS to take on the Catholic Church, because the Catholic Church is the single biggest obstacle to the fulfillment of his agenda. Just because he hasn’t launched a frontal assault against the Church doesn’t make this any less true. He courts and promotes unfaithful Catholic individuals and institutions, and uses them to gain credibility among Catholics and undermine legitimate Catholic authorities. There is no way this is accidental.

  12. catholicmidwest says:

    Of course he did. The whole Democratic party is at war with natural law and has been for years, and this is just the latest and nastiest instantiation of that.

  13. rags says:

    Excellent article and I certainly agree with the ideas he is putting forth. However, we must remember that the real enemies are “powers and principalities,” etc. The President is really just a pawn in their game. We must increase our prayers and sacrifices for all our leaders, but especially for President Obama. Never lose hope that he might have a powerful encounter with the Truth, and never stop praying for him. At the same time, oppose with all your intellectual might these radical agendas he is ramming down our throats! And teach your kids the arts of rhetoric and logic so we can have a new generation of leaders who can poke holes in all these ridiculous statements we hear from the post-modern elites!

    Long live the Pope, and may the Church be strengthened by these small persecutions we endure!

  14. rob_p says:

    I have found it remarkable watching Obama speak about different topics and have noticed something with how he operates. His words very very rarely match up with his actions. He shows very little respect for those he disagrees with. (removing conscience protections for medical professionals, reinstating the gulf drilling ban after it was struck down, challenging a decision of the supreme court during the state of the union, etc.) He seems to lie easily about things that are demonstrably false. This is very troubling to me and I do pray for him because even with all his bad policy decisions it is things like lies and deception that really show the character of the man. And I hope and pray that he sees his errors and turns away from them.

  15. BenedictXVIFan says:

    I am disturbed that the rest of the commentors do not see what you and I easily see, Anita Moore. I’ll simply add one example: choosing to give a speech at a somewhat Catholic university, Georgetown, while having them drape a cloth over a religious symbol in the background. He must surely see this as a symbolic victory every time he does these sorts of things.

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