Pres. Obama to Pope Benedict: “I… I… I… I…”

When Pope Benedict announced his impending departure into the sunset, the first thing that stood out in Obama’s statement was that he made the situation about himself.   Someone else had the same reaction

I picked this up from The Right’s Writer.

My emphases and comments:

Obama on Pope’s resignation: “I have appreciated our work together over these last four years” [BAH!]

President Barack Obama has released a statement on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and, as usual, it’s all about himself. In three spartan sentences, he manages to use the word “I” four times.
The use of the first-person singular is Obama’s own Holy Tradition, a hallmark of both his rhetoric and his governing style. His administration is a Magisterium of one.
Nonetheless, one line is particularly galling: “Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years.”  [And Rod Serling steps into the screen… from the left…]
That mutual work has consisted of:

  • Stripping the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops of federal grants to fight sex trafficking, because the USCCB would not refer patients for abortion;
  • Forcing Catholic non-profits and laity to violate their faith by financing abortifacients at home and abortion around the world;
  • Publicly advocating the redefinition of the family, something the pope said just last month threatens “the future of humanity”;
  • Trying to have the government decide who is a “minister,” a ploy with far-reaching implications that the Supreme Court unanimously struck down;
  • Reducing the “freedom of religion” to a mere “freedom of worship”; and
  • Generally trying to shoehorn people of faith into a tiny, hermetically sealed box as far removed from the public square as possible.

In other words, Obama thanked himself for a four-year relationship that has been purely adversarial.
As Bill Clinton might say, that takes a lot of brass.
One is tempted to interpret Obama’s strange show of appreciation as a sign of good sportsmanship, rather like opposing teams shaking hands after a basketball game. One could also detect an oblique sense of gloating, as he congratulates himself on outflanking the Church in the United States, often with the active aid and participation of the Catholic laity and ordained.

Compare Obama’s statement with that of House Speaker John Boehner, who is Catholic:

The prayers and gratitude of American Catholics are with Pope Benedict XVI today. The Holy Father’s decision displays extraordinary humility and love for the Church, two things that have been the hallmarks of his service. Americans were inspired by his visit to the United States in 2008, and by his quiet, steady leadership of the Church in uncertain times. People of all nations have been blessed by the sacrifices he has made to sow the seeds of hope, justice, and compassion throughout the world in the name of Our Lord and Savior.

Note the reverence, the attention to the good the
other person has done, the beneficial impact someone
else’s actions have had, and the reference to a Higher Being. [Doesn’t Obama usually expunge “Creator” when quoting a certain document?]
Obama essentially read the pontiff out of his own statement, indulging him only insofar as the pope happened to coincide with his interests and those of the coalition that elected him.
Note to Speaker Boehner: This is how the conservative grassroots expect you to “work together” with President Obama in his second term.

“I have appreciated our work together over these last four years.”


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I…I…I…I…don’t know what to say…

    The Chicken

  2. Supertradmum says:

    In 2007, Dr. Sanity, a brilliant blogger, first highlighted the narcissism of this man. I began to watch and wait for his brand of personality disorder career plans to garner enough sycophants to put him into power. Remember, I watched his meteoric career in Illinois from Illinois.

    The sad thing is, we shall get more like him in the future with America’s love of the cult of personality. In this, we are no different than North Korea.

    A certain mayor of Chicago is making noises about running for president in 2016. The arch-narcissist. These types cannot imagine that there may be one man who is more loved and noticed than themselves-Pope Benedict XVI.

    Well, we have the opposite example of our dear, humble Pope. God bless him this week in his retreat. God bless the Church and may the next Pope be as humble or more so.

  3. APX says:

    The first thing that inadvertently came out of my mouth when I heard Obama’s statement about the Pope resigning was laughter, followed by, “mmhmm, suurre. With the thought, “you’re just saying that because you would look really bad if you didn’t say anything.”

    Even Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s statement was more genuine-sounding:

    “Laureen and I were shocked early this morning to learn that declining health had prompted His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to renounce his office.

    “His Holiness has dedicated his life to serving God and his faith. He has been a faithful steward, and will be missed.

    “A renowned scholar and theologian, Pope Benedict will always have a special place in the hearts of Canadians. It was during his papacy that two of our own, Saint Brother André Bessette and Saint Kateri Tekakwitha were canonized and Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto was elevated to the College of Cardinals.

    “In 2009 my family and I were honoured to have an audience with this deeply spiritual man and to hear his words of faith, hope and charity. Laureen and I join all Canadians in wishing Pope Benedict well in the future.”

  4. wmeyer says:

    APX, I would give Stephen Harper more credit than that. His opening sentence displays a very human reaction. The bulk of the statement is an acknowledgment of Pope Benedict’s service, and the way that service has been made personal to Canadians. In none of it does he assert in any way his own importance relative to that of the Holy Father.

  5. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Superb analysis, Pater.

    Ugh, that picture, that picture.

  6. iPadre says:

    Notre Dame anointed Obama and there were no major repercussions. And we are suffering the consequences. That picture makes me so angry.

  7. AvantiBev says:

    The worst is his Baby Boomer Bump Off Bill otherwise to be known as the (Un)Affordable Health Care Act. Even my pastor at St. John Cantius, Father Phillips, wondered in his “thank you” column in our Sunday bulletin whether the excellent emergency care he received 2 weeks ago when his heart stopped for 5 minutes would be available to any of us 10 years down the road.

  8. dans0622 says:

    “I have appreciated…” What a strange way to formulate the sentence.

  9. StJude says:

    @APX.. nice statement from Stephen Harper of Canada, thanks for sharing it.

    Obama is a narcissist.

  10. HighMass says:

    To Bad it wasn’t mr. I who resign….instead of our Dear Pope Benedict….

  11. Dr. Peters,
    As to the picture (I assume the reference is to the picture of Obama at Notre Dame), and thinking of Fr. Jenkins role in bringing it to pass, I am reminded of the passage in Matthew 18:7

    For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  12. pmullane says:

    Same thought occurred to me when I read Obama’s statement. The man is a clear Narcissist, at least in the colloquial use of the term if not in the medical one. He appears to value others only in light of what they can do for him. To honour Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI by droning on about yourself and your Johnny Come Lately presidency shows extreme self obsession. ‘the Pope is good cause me and the Pope worked together’ eh? Even if that were true it still smacks of ‘so lets talk about you, why do you think im so great’ ism. And every single thing he does enforces the same Idea, he’s the One and you only have worth in relation to him.

    The Man’s a weirdo and to think of the power he weilds is down right disturbing.

  13. Laura98 says:

    Typical Obama statement.. isn’t it? Gads…

  14. Stumbler but trying says:

    “Notre Dame anointed Obama and there were no major repercussions. And we are suffering the consequences. That picture makes me so angry.”

    Every time I look at that picture, I can’t help but say to myself, “what a poser. ” Sad that the others look as if in worship while crowning some sort of god or something…it inspires nothing but disdain from me.
    May God help us all.

  15. BLB Oregon says:

    We are long past the early days of the Republic, during which obvious self-promotion was considered automatically disqualifying for would-be candidates for high public office. That, however, is not going to change until the social taboos against vain self aggrandizement go back into effect. After all, why would the voters reject a habit self-promotion in political candidates when they haven’t quit admiring the habit in the rich and famous in general?

  16. Will Elliott says:

    I have little doubts about our president’s love of himself, but I do wonder if the reports about his love for the word “I” aren’t overblown. Mark Liberman at the Language Log, has examined this issue over and over and repeatedly debunks this meme. examples:

    Obama pronouns again —
    A meme in hibernation —

  17. catholicmidwest says:

    Typical. He’s not Catholic. He said something because as head of state (unfortunately), he probably has to say something. It doesn’t really matter what he said, because when it comes to the Catholic Church, he’s clueless anyway. I wonder if it ever crosses his mind how little many of us care what he says most of the time?

  18. wmeyer says:

    Will, I think it less a matter of the pronouns than of the dismissive nature of his comments about others, as well as his apparent inability to speak on any subject without boosting himself.

  19. Catholictothecore says:

    Definition of a narcissist : Me first and then I.

  20. Phil B says:

    “I have appreciated our work together over these last four years.”

    Pope Benedict has been Obama’s religion czar, dontcha know.

  21. RichR says:

    For some, Pope Benedict’s decision to resign has been the only papal action to draw their praise.

    That photo always disturbs me. What an embarrassment to ND… least it should be.

  22. Kathleen10 says:

    That picture looks like ancient Greece must have looked when a crown of laurels was put on an Olympians head. And the adoring crowd is in rapture…
    Yet so many look at that same photo and their hearts are filled with warm emotions….HE is here…HE is real….HE is all….
    According to polls it is roughly half or more of America who adores him, half that does not (and within that half many who feel quite queasy about him).
    Insult to injury, four more years. uh boy.

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