Senior Vatican figures criticise Obama


SENIOR VATICAN figures have criticised President Barack Obama on the same day that it was officially confirmed that the Pope had lifted the 1988 excommunication of four traditionalist “Lefebvre” bishops.

On Saturday, Msgr Rino Fisichella and Msgr Elio Sgreccia, two senior figures at the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, and the Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, were all critical of President Obama’s decision to rescind the so-called “Mexico City Policy”.

This policy banned the granting of US foreign aid to family planning organisations which advocate or provide abortion services.

Introduced by president Reagan in 1984, it was rescinded by president Clinton in 1993 before being reinstated by George W Bush in 2001.

“Of all the good things he could have done, he [President Obama] has chosen the worst. This is a hard blow not just for us Catholics but also for all those who want to fight against the slaughter of the innocents that is brought about through abortion,” said Msgr Sgreccia, president emeritus of the academy.

The concerted Vatican criticism of President Obama contrasts with what, until now, has been the generally warm reception afforded him by Pope Benedict. Since his election victory the pope has sent two telegrams of congratulation to President Obama.

Pope Benedict prompted criticism on Saturday with his decision to lift the 1988 excommunication of four traditionalist “Lefebvre” bishops, members of the Society of St Pius X.

Pointing out that one of the four bishops, Richard Williamson, is a Holocaust denier, Rabbi David Rosen, of the American Jewish Committee, called the pope’s decision “shameful”, adding that it was “a serious blow for Jewish-Vatican relations”.