Monday, June 29, 2009

Pope to POTUS: "Thank You"?

In a normal year, today's feast of Saints Peter and Paul would be the Vatican's "last hurrah" before the summer exodus.

Suffice it to say, this ain't a normal year -- there's a good bit more to come before Pope & Co. skip town.

For one, early July will (at long last) see the release of the new encyclical, a "fire sale"-style clearout of Curial and diplomatic moves (including, so they say, some of interest to North Americans) is also reportedly at hand... and -- maybe the most awaited moment of all -- the Pope will receive President Obama in a rare afternoon audience on 10 July.

While no shortage of opinion's circulated from all sides on what the pontiff will (actually, more like should) tell the Commander-in-Chief since their first meeting was confirmed early last week, Joseph Ratzinger's mind on Barack Obama is largely a mystery, and even the usually omniscient Italians are left wondering whose leanings among the Apartment's inner circle will shape B16's talking points with his impending guest.

That said, quite possibly the first authoritative glean into the day's message comes from none other than Benedict's hand-picked choice for the States' most prominent ecclesial post:
[The New York Daily News] asked [Archbishop Timothy Dolan] what he thought Pope Benedict might say to President Obama when he meets him during the G-8 economic summit in Rome on July 10.

"When we preach, we say you're supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable," Dolan said. "We believe in what you call the via media, the middle way. We would always condemn unbridled cutthroat capitalism as well as socialism. So we think, as Aristotle said, in the middle you find virtue.

"So, with President Obama, I think Pope Benedict will say, 'Thank you for trying to see that health care will be expanded. Thank you for the overtures you are making for peace and justice, particularly the bridges you are building with the Islamic world.'

"He would say, never forget the needs of the poor. But while you're at it, let's not forget the virtues of private capital.

"Economic freedom, the freedom that comes from a man or woman's opportunity to make his or her own living, to take care of their families and others.

"It's tough to achieve, the balance. It's a tightrope. But you'll always hear the Pope calling us back to the middle, to virtue."
And, well, there you have it.

PHOTO: Getty