Obama Promises Robust Conscience Protection in His Meeting with Catholic Press Today
In a 41-minute meeting in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, eight members of the Catholic Press met with President Obama this morning.
In addition to Father Owen Kearns, editor in chief and publisher of the Register, those attending were representatives from America, Avvenire/Vatican Radio, Catholic News Service, Catholic Digest, Commonweal, National Catholic Reporter and The Washington Post.
Obama began with brief remarks and then gave each representative the opportunity to ask one question.
In his remarks, the president said that he had a wonderful conversation with Pope Benedict XVI right after his election. He said that he sees his visit with the Holy See in some ways like any other government in that there will be areas of agreement and disagreement. He also said that he sees the Holy See as more than a government because of the Church’s influence on this country and the world. He said that it would be a great honor to meet the Pope and was looking forward to talking about the Middle East, climate change and immigration.
“The most noteworthy thing during the meeting was his dispelling of what you might call the expectation of the worst regarding conscience clauses,” said Father Kearns. “He said that the confusion regarding the issue was due to the timing of everything rather than what he was going to do. His administration saw the previous administration’s 11th-hour change as problematic, and so they undid that. He said that in Illinois he was a supporter of a robust conscience clause, something he reiterated in his Notre Dame speech. He added that the government has received hundreds of thousands of public comments, and he promised that there would be a robust conscience-clause protection in place, and that it would not be weaker than President Bush’s 11th-hour change. Still, he added, it won’t please everybody.”
Let’s pray that he lives up to this promise.