Following Friday’s meeting between Pope Benedict and U.S. President Barack Obama, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson released a statement saying that while he is pleased that the president is interested in engaging in “meaningful dialogue” with the Church, several issues must be addressed by the government to find “authentic common ground.”
During the 36-minute meeting, it was reported by the Vatican that the Holy Father and U.S. President discussed issues such as the promotion of life, the peace process in the Middle East, the global economic crisis and immigration.
In Anderson’s statement, he called the meeting an “achievement for Vatican and American diplomacy” and said it “represents a positive development for those of us who hoped that this meeting might mark a new opportunity in the important relationship between the Catholic Church and U.S. government.”
Turning then to the subject of life and President Obama’s statement to the Pope that he is committed to reducing the number of abortions, the Supreme Knight applauded Obama “for his sensitivity to the growing consensus among the American people favoring the right to life, restriction of abortion, and the protection of conscience.”
“As our Knights of Columbus-Marist Poll released today shows, there is a great deal of common ground among the American people on these issues,” Anderson pointed out, explaining that “86% would restrict abortion far more than it is today, and 79% would protect the right to conscience of health care workers.”
“This is a real consensus on the heart of the abortion issue, and it is heartening to see the president’s attention to it,” the Knights of Columbus leader said.
He added, “This is an important moment. The pope and the president have laid the foundation for trying to achieve authentic common ground. How we build on this meeting in a constructive way in the months and years ahead is critical.”
Anderson then listed several benchmarks that must be met to “provide a true gauge of progress made on achieving common ground with the Catholic community.”
Anderson's list included: “adoption of a federal conscience clause regulation that gives real protection to Catholic institutions and individuals; health care legislation that does not contain a back door mandate for abortion; abortion reduction programs that respect pro-life crisis pregnancy and teenage abstinence programs” and the “preservation of the pro-life riders that currently exist in the annual appropriations legislation.”
“These riders, which restrict federal abortion funding, also raise conscience protection issues, since their removal would force tax payers to pay for abortions against their conscience,” he explained.
The final issue would be “dropping any attempts to codify by statute the president’s rescission of the Mexico City Policy, which allows international abortion funding by the United States,” Anderson concluded.