The Vatican and Notre Dame
John Thavis points out the obvious: that while Americans in the Vatican are talking a lot about Obama at Notre Dame, the Europeans are not. Here’s the reason:
“…non-Americans at the Vatican tend to see the issue in a different light, I think. For one thing, they seem more comfortable with the idea of accommodating dignitaries and civil authorities in a church setting, even when their political positions aren’t in line with the church’s teaching….French President Nicholas Sarkozy received the title of honorary canon of the Basilica of St. John Lateran during his visit to Rome in 2007, a tradition that goes back centuries. Sarkozy, who also met Pope Benedict, supports legal abortion. The Vatican and the Diocese of Rome seemed to have no problem with honoring the twice-divorced Sarkozy, who says he is a Catholic. In fact, the Lateran vespers service to bestow the title was “all pomp and circumstance,” as one Vatican official put it.”
This is the issue really. On many issues, the Vatican remains a deeply conservative institution, deferential to secular leaders and their role in the social order. This is not new — recall Gregory the Great’s fawning letters to Emperor Phocas after he murdered his predecessor and his predecessor’s family, and many many similar examples. What strikes me so much about the American attitude here is how utterly un-conservative it is — yet another example that those who dub themselves “conservative” are in fact the opposite. And with Obama, this can be taken to the extreme with the apocalyptic language, something that leaves Europeans (even the most ardently pro-life Europeans) scratching their heads. Another example of the famous American dualism (with it’s Calvinist-Gnostic roots) in action, I fear.
Oh, and by the way, Europeans also know now to pronounce “Notre Dame” correctly!! (sorry, could not resist that one!)