Obama’s views supporting abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research are pragmatic. Obama knows this is less than the absolute legal prohibition demanded by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America. Obama successfully found some common ground during the campaign by advocating abortion reduction with enhanced economic and social support, especially for poor, uninsured and often unemployed women. In addition, the president advocates stronger families and teenage responsibility.
Not enough. Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, who met with the president in the Oval Office on St. Paddy’s Day, can be seen on YouTube stirring up letter-writing and e-mail campaigns. The local bishop in Indiana plans to boycott the graduation altogether.
Many Catholics, including this one, find it hard to reconcile this approach with the image of Christ in Matthew’s Gospel never turning away even “sinners and tax collectors,” though no one could blame Obama Cabinet officials for steering clear of tax collectors. Jesus’ method was one of inclusion, teaching with generosity, forgiveness and truth — not snubbing those in high office.