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The following commentary appeared as the feature story in the June 11, 2009 issue of The Wanderer, under the title The Hijacking of L’Osservatore Romano.  It was made available by The Wanderer online on June 5, 2009.


L'Osservatore Romano - Feature Story in The Wanderer by Marielena Montesino de Stuart, June 11, 2009

L’Osservatore Romano – Feature Story in The Wanderer by Marielena Montesino de Stuart, June 11, 2009

The Roman Catholic World


Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last — but that it was essential and inevi­table to torture to death only one tiny creature . . . and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you con­sent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth —  The Brothers Karamazov.

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A dangerous and divisive precedent is being set by the hi­jacking of L’Osservatore Romano, at the hands of its editor, Giovanni Maria Vian. Vian has chosen, through his editorial position, to smooth out and present a positive and speculative view of what has been President Obama’s well- established sup­port of the culture of death.

Vian has emphasized in a positive light President Obama’s call for a “ common ground” as well as a palatable “ conscience clause” for those in the field of medicine who are against abor­tion. Vian has also declared that Obama “ is not an advocate of abortion.” As part of his editorial balancing act, L’Osservatore Romano  has mentioned the protests at Notre Dame University, and has also criticized Obama’s support of embryonic stem-cell research.

L’Osservatore Romano benefits from having editorial indepen­dence, but it also acts “at the service of the thinking of the pope” and works closely with the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, head­ed by Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone.

Vian, who has been the editor of L’Osservatore Romano since September 2007, seems to overlook the fact that over 60 bishops expressed their strong indignation over Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama, as clear evidence that Cath­olic Americans are slowly hardening their attitude against Obama’s abortion stance. Vian, instead, has defended his benevolent view of Obama in an interview with the Italian daily, Il Riformista, which I have read in the original Italian. In this interview Vian refers to abortion as “ un terreno delicatissimo” (very delicate grounds/is­sue). Vian went on to say that he is reassured and clearly con­vinced that “ Obama non è un presidente abortista” (President Obama is not an advocate of abortion).

Vian also said to Il Riformista that “ if an Episcopal confer­ence takes place, we naturally report what is said; however, we consider that, when appropriate, we can provide other facts related to international information, for one’s judgment.” Re­ally — Mr. Vian, so the Vatican wants your readers to consider international opinion on the killing of babies? I wonder how  His Eminence James Francis Cardinal Stafford feels about your editorial opinions. Cardinal Stafford courageously described Obama as “ aggressive, disruptive, and apocalyptic.” Cardinal Stafford also warned that Obama campaigned on an “ extrem­ist anti-life platform.” Archbishop Raymond Burke has also stat­ed that, “ The path of violation of the most fundamental hu­man rights and of the integrity of marriage and the family which our nation is traveling is not accidental. As Catholics, we can­not fail to notice with the greatest sadness the number of our fellow Catholics who cooperate fully to the advancement of a national agenda which is anti- life and anti- family.”

It is indisputable that Italians have a genius quality about them. Italians are well known for the “ art of living” — and are also famous for the art of protecting their “ bella figura” — which has nothing to do with their figure, but everything to do with how the world sees them. To that end, Vian has taken his con­cern about his own “ bella figura” to another level — and has hijacked L’Osservatore Romano, and the Vatican along with it. He has ingratiated himself with the socialists, and has overlooked the opinions of the members of the Roman Curia and the Church’s hierarchy with one stroke of his pen — or one click of his laptop’s “ Send” button. In other words, he has appeased the barbari­ans.

This unrealistic approach to the needs, opinions, and realities of the American peo­ple, and in this particular case, of Catho­lics in America, is not foreign to me. I have dealt both professionally and socially with a great number of Europeans and Latin Americans who issue their poorly based socialist opinions with an elitist attitude that has frankly gone beyond monotonous and outdated. It has always astonished me how the socialists seem to contrive a sense of moral superiority.

This type of old socialist rhetoric is not Catholic, and does not provide anything of value to the fight for human life — by re­ferring to abortion as a “ delicate” matter. Vian’s simplistic acceptance of Obama’s speech as a convincing turning point indi­cating that he is not a pro- abortion presi­dent, does not present the intellectual depth and decorum worthy of a newspaper that is “ at the service of the thinking of the pope” — nor does it represent the doctri­nal and historical position of the Vatican, against this kind of weak socialist jargon.

Every Pope, from Leo XIII to Benedict XVI, has rebuked socialism, and has pas­sionately defended human life. What Gio­vanni Maria Vian is doing is nothing less than participating in a “divide and conquer” agenda against, and within, the Vatican — which is the only state left in the world that can effectively argue against the socialist pro- abortion manipulations that are taking place. This is nothing but an attempt to fool the masses into thinking that a social­ist has the solution for our problems — lest we forget that it was the capitalist West, aid­ed by the Vatican, which compelled the so­cialist East to treat their citizens as human beings with fundamental rights, rather than as pawns in a game of chess.

Mr. Vian, in his claim that Obama “ non è un presidente abortista,” has failed to do his homework — or is simply trying to ignore some facts. Obama’s extremist vot­ing record as a former state senator from Illinois shows that he opposed the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, that was intro­duced to protect babies who survive botched abortions. Obama has consistently voted to defend “ pro- choice,” and has surrounded himself by cabinet members that are “ pro­-choice,” including several so- called Catho­lics, such as former Kansas Governor, Kathleen Sebelius. Sebelius, who is now serving Obama as Secretary of Health and Human Services, was asked by Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Fred Naumann to re­frain from receiving Holy Communion be­cause of her position on abortion. During questions from the Senate Finance Com­mittee during her April 2009 confirmation hearing, Sebelius stated that she received $12,450 between 1994 and 2001 from Dr. George Tiller — one of those infamous doctors in the United States who was in­volved in performing uncounted late- term abortions.

Obama has just selected Sonia Sotomay­or, a probable “ pro- choice” defender, to become the next Supreme Court Justice — and Obama’s choice of Liberation Theolo­gian and strong Obama supporter, Mario H. Diaz, as ambassador to the Holy See, is nothing but a divisive incursion into the Vatican.

With all this evidence in plain view, Gio­vanni Maria Vian seems convinced and content with a simplistic acceptance that Obama “is not an advocate of abortion” be­cause the Freedom of Choice Act may not be a priority at this time in his agenda.  L’Osservatore Romano has also given Obama very positive reviews during his first 100 days in office.

In Mr. Vian’s quest to educate his read­ers on other “ informazione internazion­ale,” has he considered the document writ­ten by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops titled Forming Conscienc­es for Faithful Citizenship? This docu­ment states that “the direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.” This document made it very clear that abor­tion was the most important issue in the 2008 presidential election. It did not say that it was a “delicate issue.”

There is a key battlefront, and it is the protection of human life. The Western tra­dition of liberty and all the values that em­anate from it, cannot stand without the passionate defense of human life. Incre­mental concessions to participants in the culture of death will lead to self- destruc­tion. As historian Arnold Toynbee once said, “ Civilizations die from suicide, not murder.”

The Church is not a merchant that needs to negotiate or lower its price. The Church does not need to be moderate. We, Roman Catholics the world- over, are not detached spirits in the theater of life. We are part of an intellectual heritage that stands firm against these alien modern phi­losophies. Vian’s statements can strike a blow against the pro-life cause, because he is using his editorial privileges to impose an opinion which distorts the Vatican’s solid stand on the defense of human life. Fortu­nately, for Catholics who wish to inform themselves, the Holy See has a concrete and compelling record of the Church’s hi­erarchy and their tenacious voices in the protection of human life. It should put to rest any misunderstandings created by Vi­an’s (hopefully short lived) editorial liberties at L’Osservatore Romano.

Benedict XVI is expecting a visit from Barack Obama in July, during the G8 meetings. The fight for human life will be discussed. No international opinions will be heard. Nor will there be any competing voic­es, except those of the unborn — who will hear the angel of death knocking on their door.

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Marielena Montesino de Stuart


You may read Marielena Montesino de Stuart’s observations and opinions through:

RenewAmerica, USAToday, U.S. Politics Today (EIN News Service for Political Professionals) Poynter Online, Spero News, The New Liturgical Movement-Poland, The Naples Daily News, Les Femmes-The Truth, Culture War Notes,  ProLife Blogs, The Wanderer, etc.

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Please also read the follow-up article https://romancatholicworld.wordpress.com/2009/06/29/further-reflection-on-the-hijacking-of-losservatore-romano-2/