Is receiving a papal medal from the Pope any different than giving a commencement speech and receiving an honorary doctorate from a Catholic university? I honestly don’t know. (Someone out there please help me on this one).
On Friday, Barack Obama met with Benedict XVI in the Vatican City. As expected, Benedict made the Church’s views on abortion and stem-cell research abundantly clear. Obama expressed his desire to reduce the number of abortions and, according to Vatican reports, Benedict seemed to be pleased about this.
The meeting took place three days after Benedict issued Caritas in Veritate, his first social encyclical. Those on the Catholic left have been talking about the progressive flavor of this encyclical. E.J. Dionne writes that the Pope is “well to Obama’s left on economics.” After reading the encyclical, it is hard to argue otherwise.
But I am still curious. What is the difference between the Pope giving a politician a papal medal and a Catholic University, such as Notre Dame, inviting a politician to speak and giving him an honorary doctorate? Mark Silk at Spiritual Politics asks the same question.
In the meantime, here are a few reflections on the Obama-Benedict meeting and a few more on Caritas in Veritate.
Christopher Blosser has a great list of links to commentary on the encyclical. (Come on Christopher, how about a shout out!).
Steve Waldman on Obama’s promise to reduce abortions.
Boston Herald on the letter Obama delivered to the Pope from Ted Kennedy.
John L. Allen discusses the meeting at the New York Times.