Jay Leno, the most vocal critic of President Obama on late-night TV, led off his monologue Thursday night riffing on news that the president wants to meet with the pope – and got in a fresh dig at the Obamacare disaster.
“The White House announced today that President Obama will visit Pope Francis in the near future,”.Leno said. “See, Pope Francis thinks Obamacare can be a success. Well, sure, he’s the pope — he has to believe in miracles.”
Joking aside, a meeting between the pope and the president could be interesting, since Obama’s relationship to the Catholic Church these days generally involves lawsuits by Catholic employers, Catholic dioceses, and Catholic icons like the Little Sisters of the Poor against the administration for trying to force it to violate core Catholic beliefs in the sanctity of life.
And that’s just legally.
Politically, Obama’s base despises the Catholic Church for its positions on homosexuality – unchanged doctrinally no matter what the world’s media might infer from the pope’s casual remarks last year – its male-only clergy, and, of course, it’s unchangeable opposition to abortion, the heart of the lawsuits against Obamacare.
A meeting between Obama and Francis is probably inevitable – every president since Kennedy has met with the reigning pope (except for the short-lived papacy of John Paul I), and Obama himself met with Francis’ predecessor, Benedict, for 25 minutes in 2009.
But that was before Obamacare was a reality and the Obama administration’s assault on religious freedom in the first country to enshrine it in its Constitution.
Dueling descriptions released by the State Deparment and the Vatican about Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit in Rome Tuesday with Vatican Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin might hint at trouble ahead between the president and the pontiff.
In the State Department’s lengthy version, Kerry sounded optimistic, noting that “much was agreed on” about the Middle East, global poverty and other elements of a “mutual agenda.” Kerry’s statement didn’t mention Obamacare at all.
In its own news release, the Vatican Information Service ended a brief description of the meeting by noting that the men had discussed among other things “matters of special interest to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops such as healthcare reform.”
A papal-presidential meeting is probably inevitable, but it will be interesting.
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