By Hilary White

ROME, May 12, 2009 ( – The Vatican newspaper has for the second time in less than two weeks published an article in praise of US president Barack Obama. Today’s issue presents Obama as the healer of America’s racial tensions and the “Joshua” to Martin Luther King’s “Moses.” Lucia Annunziata wrote in today’s Italian edition of L’Osservatore Romano that the political victory of Obama has signified “the overcoming” of US racial conflicts often spoken of by Rev. Martin Luther King.

In the article, titled “The Biblical Matrix of Obama’s Rhetoric; the New Frontier and the Promised Land,” Annunziata writes of Obama’s appearance, in March 2007, at the Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Selma Alabama, the cradle of the Civil Rights movement. In that speech, which Annunziata calls “one of his key moments of his public career,” Obama positioned himself symbolically in the place of Joshua, the biblical figure who succeeded Moses and brought the people of Israel to the Promised Land.

If the generation of Dr. Martin Luther King is analogous to that of Moses, Annunziata wrote, Obama himself, as Joshua, has completed the task of overcoming America’s racial conflicts. As a man of mixed race, Annunziata wrote, Obama has healed the “racial divide that has always cut through America.” Obama is, she said, “not a prophet, not a founder, but the fulfiller of the promise.”

“Obama, the child of whites, blacks and asiatics, is the champion of a generation so deeply [racially] intertwined that it no longer defines itself in relationship with the colour of the skin, but as a completed idea of multi-ethnicity.”

With Obama’s election, she wrote, “those who felt excluded now have become part of a common entity.”

However, the messianic style of language used in Annunziata’s article, and by many other mainstream news outlets, to describe the US president has been consistently and vehemently denounced by many pro-life and pro-family critics, who have said that, rather than a symbol of the healing of the divisions of America, Obama is furthering discrimination by refusing a whole class of people – the unborn – the fundamental democratic principle of the right to life.

Messianic language of this sort was denounced by a prominent political scholar at a meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences earlier this month. Msgr. Michel Schooyans, Professor Emeritus at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium, dedicated the entire second half of his lecture to the Academy at its plenary session to criticizing the “excessive terms” that are often used to describe Obama in the media.

In contrast to Lucia Annunziata’s enthusiasm for Obama’s biblical rhetoric, Schooyans noted that, on the subject of abortion particularly, “the voters who put Barack Obama into the presidency did not perceive the weakness and ambiguity” of his statements. Far from being the “Joshua” who fulfils the desires of the Civil Rights movement, Obama, Schooyans said, has overturned the democratic principles upon which it was founded.

With Obama’s overturning of former president Bush’s protections of the unborn, Obama has reintroduced “the right to discriminate, to ‘set aside’ some human beings.”

“With him, the right of every human person to life and liberty is no longer recognized, much less protected. As a result, President Obama disputes the reasoning invoked by his fellow African-Americans when they demanded, rightly, the recognition of the right of all to the same dignity, to equality and freedom. In its prenatal version, racism has been restored in the United States.”

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