Though only days into President Barack Obama’s administration, Italian columnist and author Massimo Franco speculated about what relations might look like between the Vatican and Obama as well as the U.S. Catholic Church and Obama.
CNS Rome Bureau Chief John Thavis offered his analysis in this week’s Vatican Letter, writing that the Vatican will highlight the similarities between the church and the Obama agenda, such as diplomacy and social justice, while “downplaying difference on moral questions like abortion.”
Franco agreed, saying “we are going to see a honeymoon period” which will become more clear as time goes on.
In honor of the 25th anniversary of U.S.-Vatican relations, he spoke last night in Washington about his book, “Parallel Empires: The Vatican and the United States — Two Centuries of Alliance and Conflict.”
Franco said the Vatican, in its diplomatic role, must highlight similarities because, well, that’s what diplomats do.
And the U.S. bishops, he said, probably for the time being will be silent on such controversial issues as abortion and embryonic stem-cell research for fear of ostracizing Catholics who voted for Obama. It’s important to keep the flock together.
But as time goes on, the U.S. bishops might take a more vocal role, leaving the diplomatic niceties to the Vatican.
What about Joe Biden, the first Catholic vice president? Well, said Franco, the U.S. bishops and the Vatican actually prefer a non-Catholic with an agenda more in line with the church than a pro-choice Catholic in such a public role.