Knights of Columbus leader Carl Anderson has expressed his hopes that the meeting between U.S. President Obama and Pope Benedict XVI this Friday will be a "wonderful opportunity" for sharing the Catholic faith. In an interview with CNA, Anderson said that the meeting will be a chance for the Pontiff to clearly explain Church teaching on a wide range of topics.
"I think it is always a wonderful opportunity when a Head of State meets with the Holy Father," Anderson told CNA. "Obviously, the relationship between the United States and the Vatican is very important, is very complex," he noted.
Anderson said that the upcoming meeting "provides the Holy Father with an opportunity to make clear why the Church’s teaching covers a broad spectrum, why it arises from a consistent ethic and a consistent view of the person, and why it is that those in public policy, such as the President, whether he’s a Democrat or a Republican, should try to understand the foundation for the Church’s teaching."
He went on to explain that if politicians and public figures understand this crucial foundation, hopefully they can then "understand what’s built upon the foundation, specific ethical positions or recommendations."
Anderson is hopeful that the meeting will allow the Pope to share the truths of the Catholic faith with Obama, whose early months in office have given him a reputation for violating Church teaching on fundamental issues such as abortion, same-sex "marriage" and embryonic stem cell research.
"A new president represents new opportunities," Anderson told CNA. "He has a new chance to chart different kinds of discussions on health care, immigration, peace, dealing with the Middle East situation."
He added that the Vatican should "encourage a consideration of those kinds of issues from the perspective of Catholic social doctrine, as well as fundamental issues such as abortion and the role of population control in foreign policy and economic development."
Nonetheless, Anderson stressed the idea that all these social issues are connected, pointing to Benedict’s new encyclical, "Caritas in veritate" (Charity in truth). He explained, "The Pope makes very clear that authentic economic development, human development must include respect for the unborn child, respect for the institution of marriage as between a man and a woman, and hopefully they will have the opportunity to speak at length about those issues."
"It’s not enough that we respect those who disagree with us," Anderson concluded, explaining that we need to "make clear the teaching of the Church in a way that’s respectful, but nonetheless in a way that we hope will be persuasive."