President Obama Monday offered up a brief and restrained statement on the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI, mentioning none of the Pontiff’s accomplishments and referring to himself as often as the Holy Father.
Here’s the entire statement.
On behalf of Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years. The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s successor.
The pope is widely viewed among Obama’s liberal base as a “reactionary” Pontiff – as the Washington Post put it – who has opposed “progressive” notions such as allowing women to be priests, accepting gay rights, and permitting radical “liberation theology” that has been particularly prevalent in Latin America.
Benedict has also taken a far more confrontational approach toward Islam than Obama is comfortable with, questioning core tenets of Islamic theology.
And of course Obama’s pro-abortion stance differs starkly from that of the Vatican. What’s more, the president has clashed with the church on issues of religious freedom, seeking to force Catholic institutions to pay for birth control under Obamacare.
Late last year, after his reelection, the Vatican implored Obama to ensure a “culture of life and religious freedom.”
By notable contrast, Obama only an hour before his statement of the Pope had issued a statement twice the size offering stirring praise for his relatively – when compared to the Pope – insignificant Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills, who is departing.
Note the contrast in tone. The statement has been pared down.
I want to thank Administrator Mills for her outstanding work on behalf of America’s small business owners and entrepreneurs. I asked Karen to lead the Small Business Administration because I knew she had the skills and experience to help America’s small businesses recover from the worst economic crisis in generations – and that’s exactly what she’s done . . . Because of Karen’s hard work and dedication, our small businesses are better positioned to create jobs and our entire economy is stronger. I want to thank Karen and am grateful for her service.
Obama met with the Pope at the Vatican in July 2009.