Vatican expert questions cardinal’s exaltation of Obama

Vatican expert questions cardinal’s exaltation of Obama

Sandro Magister / Cardinal Georges Cottier
Sandro Magister / Cardinal Georges Cottier


Responding to Cardinal Georges Cottier's recent article praising President Obama, Vatican analyst Sandro Magister has said the cardinal almost exalts Obama as “a new Constantine, the head of a modern empire that is also generous toward the Church."

In Magister’s article, published yesterday, he casts doubt on remarks made by Cardinal Georges Cottier, 87, who lauded President Obama’s abortion stance in the Catholic magazine, “30 Days.”

Cardinal Cottier, a Swiss Dominican who served as the official theologian of the pontifical household for several years under John Paul II, discussed two of President Obama’s speeches: his commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame and the address at the Al-Azhar Islamic University in Cairo.  The cardinal noted that in both speeches, President Obama gave “a glimpse of politics that can be usefully compared with fundamental elements of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church.”

Magister summarized Cardinal Cottier's analysis, saying that the cardinal finds “Obama’s vision highly compatible with the Catholic perspective,” and also attributes “good and constructive intentions to him even on the minefield of abortion.”

In his article, Cardinal Cottier wrote that during Obama’s speech at Notre Dame, “I was struck by how Obama did not avoid facing the most thorny question, that of abortion, on which he has received so many criticisms, including from the United States bishops. On the one hand, these reactions are justified: political decisions on abortion involve nonnegotiable values. For us, what is at stake is the defense of the person, of his inalienable rights, the first of which is the right to life.”

However, he continued, “in pluralistic society there are radical differences on this point. There are those who, as we do, consider abortion an ‘intrinsece malum,’ there are those who accept it, and then there are those who assert it as a right. The president never takes this last position. On the contrary, it seems to me that he makes positive suggestions – as ‘L’Osservatore Romano’ has also highlighted, on May 19 – proposing a search for common ground even in this case.”

“In this search – Obama cautions – no one must censor his own convictions, but on the contrary must assert them before everyone, and defend them. His is not at all the mistaken relativism of those who say that these are just contrasting opinions, that all personal opinions are uncertain and subjective, and that therefore they should be set aside when speaking of these things,” wrote the cardinal.

Magister responded by saying that Cardinal Cottier “denies that Obama can be considered ‘pro-abortion,’ and even attributes to him the desire to ‘do everything possible to make the number of abortions as small as possible’ just as did ‘the first Christian legislators, who did not immediately overturn the Roman laws that were tolerant toward practices inconsistent with or even contrary to the natural law, like concubinage and slavery.’”

Futhermore, Magister critiqued, the cardinal “invokes support from Saint Thomas Aquinas, according to whom ‘the state must not enact laws that are too strict and demanding, because the people will be unable to observe them and will ignore them.’”

In addition, Magister pointed out that Cardinal Cottier “applauds ‘L'Osservatore Romano’ for the same pro-Obama article on May 19 that infuriated so many American bishops.”

Following President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame, ‘L’Osservatore Romano’ published a positive article on his visit.  Days later, the editor of the Vatican paper, Gian Maria Vian, defended Obama saying, “Obama is not a pro-abortion president.”

Magister concluded his comments adding, “Cardinal Cottier seems almost to exalt Obama as a new Constantine, the head of a modern empire that is also generous toward the Church.”