Following an outcry from pro-life organizations in response to Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi’s expression of “appreciation” for the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano has published an editorial strongly criticizing the award.
After noting the irony of giving a peace award to a president who is continuing to fight two wars begun by his predecessor, author Lucetta Scaraffia notes that Obama’s “oscillating policy” in Iraq and Afghanistan is “very similar to that held by the president towards the great bioethical issues, besides those regarding abortion, which have caused such controversy among American Catholics.”
“In receiving the coveted award, Obama should remember that in 1979 he was preceded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who had the courage, in her official statements on the occasion of receiving the award, to remember that the more intense war, with the greater number of ‘casualties,’ is the practice of abortion, legalized and facilitated even by international institutions,” continues Scaraffia.
He also notes the Nobel Committee’s inconsistency in giving the award to Obama, but failing repeatedly to give it to Pope John Paul II, despite the former pope’s highly significant efforts in favor of peace, including his strong opposition to the Iraq war.
Despite his efforts, says Scaraffia, the pope was considered “too conservative in other ways,” and that the fear was that, by awarding the pope, “one important religious confession would be privileged over another.” However, this fear of partisanship evidently was overcome in the “much more controversial” case of the selection of Obama, said Scaraffia.
The decision, he concludes, was motivated by “politically correct thinking.”
Scaraffia also makes an apparent attempt to rationalize or explain the initial response to the selection of Obama by Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican Press Office.
Lombardi had received the news warmly on behalf of the Vatican on October 9, stating that the news “was greeted with appreciation” because of “the president’s demonstrated commitment to promoting peace on an international level and, in particular, in recently promoting nuclear disarmament.”
His statement was criticized by pro-life leaders and who noted the destructive record of Obama with regard to the right to life.
In an apparent attempt at damage control in the wake of Lombardi’s remarks, Scaraffia reaffirms the spokesman’s remarks in the context of his highly critical article, stating that “as the director of the Holy See’s Press Office has said, we can only rejoice in seeing the recognition in president Obama of the effort for nuclear disarmament and an undeniable personal propensity towards a policy oriented more to obtaining peace than affirming American power in the world.”