Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Pope and the President

A friend of MOJ sent me this.  (From The Nation, 4/15/08.]  Certainly worth pondering!

The Pope and the President

by John Nichols

   George Bush is certainly not the first American president to try
   and take advantage of a timely papal meeting to advance himself and
   his agenda.

   Pope Benedict XVI, who arrives today for a high-profile visit to the
   United States, took his name from Pope Benedict XV, who consulted
   with Woodrow Wilson when the 28th president was touring Europe with
   the purpose of promoting a League of Nations.

   Bush has no such grand design.

   The current president is merely hoping that – by greeting the
   current Pope Benedict at Andrews Air Force Base, inviting 12,000
   people to an outdoor reception with the pontiff and then hosting a
   Bavarian dinner for the visitor from the Vatican – his own dismal
   approval ratings might be improved by association with a reasonably
   popular religious leader.

   The initiative has been somewhat complicated by the fact that Pope
   Benedict will not attend the dinner.

   But that won’t stop Bush by attempting to bask in the papal glow.

   Perhaps the president should try a different approach.

   Instead of posing with the pontiff he might want to listen to what
   this particular pope has to say about global warming, fighting
   poverty and, above all, promoting peace.

   No one is going to confuse Pope Benedict with the caricature of
   a liberal.

   But the pontiff has made the Vatican a leader is seeking to address
   climate change. Under this pope’s leadership, the Vatican announced
   that it would become the world's first carbon-neutral state.

   He has said that the leaders of the world must do much more to feed
   the poor, fight disease and support the interests of workers rather
   than the bottom lines of corporations.

   And he has bluntly said that Bush’s preemptive attack on Iraq and the
   subsequent occupation of that country does not follow the Catholic
   doctrine of a “just war.”

   Before the invasion, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was asked whether
   the attack might be considered morally justified under the just-war
   standard. “Certainly not,” he replied, explaining that "the damage
   would be greater than the values one hopes to save."

   After the war began, Cardinal Ratzinger said of the global protest
   movement to prevent the attack: "it was right to resist the war and
   its threats of destruction.”

   Rejecting arguments made by the president and many of his supporters
   that the United States needed to take the lead, this pope argued, “It
   should never be the responsibility of just one nation to make
   decisions for the world."

   It is not secret that George Bush has trouble taking the counsel of
   those who do not tell him what he wants to hear.

   But if this president wants to associate himself with the pope, he
   should begin by listening to the man who has said, "There were not
   sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of
   the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions
   that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking
   ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a
   'just war.'"

   Of course, no rational observer is going to think that George Bush
   will be led by Pope Benedict XVI to pacifism. But Bush cannot claim
   to be taking this papal visit seriously if he will not even entertain
   a discussion of just and unjust wars.

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Perry, Michael | Permalink

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