by John-Henry Westen

ROME, May 1, 2009 ( – In a front-page article in the April 30 issue of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, writer Giuseppe Fiorentino suggests that the first 100 days of the Obama Administration have “not shaken the world” in terms of being as negative as expected.  Given the source, the article sent shock waves through the pro-life world particularly in America, which was left with the distinct impression that the Vatican writer was very out of touch with his subject material.

For some answers as to why the Vatican newspaper would have taken such a stance, spoke with Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro, the head of the Rome office of Human Life International.  “It is clearly an effort to build bridges with the current Democratic Administration in the U.S.,” he said.  “This one of several articles that have been published in L’Osservatore Romano with this intent. It would seem that some officers within the Secretary of State have hopes that with a moderate and positive approach towards President Obama they would be able to stop him from implementing many of the more radical elements of his political platform.”

Writing in L’Osservatore Romano, Fiorentino stated “on ethical issues—which have been the major concern of the Catholic episcopate since the election campaign—Obama does not seem to have gone through with the radical innovations he voiced. The new guidelines regarding research on embryonic stem cells do not in fact follow the change of course planned months ago.”

Douglas Johnson, the Legislative Director for National Right to Life Committee in the US, told, that contrary to what some have said, the pro-life perspective on Obama’s first 100 days has shown that he’s “already proven to be the most relentlessly pro-abortion President who has ever held office.”

A summary list of significant policy actions and high level appointments of pro-abortion activists, goes on for three pages. Johnson explained, “Some things that Obama wishes to do require Congressional action as well so they can’t all be done with the stroke of a pen. With what he can do with a stroke of a pen, he has been in substance very aggressive.”

Johnson explained further that “the President’s executive order is completely open ended, it does not contain any of the restrictions mentioned” in the L’Osservatore Romano article.  “The only thing (Obama) expressed any reservation about was human cloning for reproduction,” said Johnson.  According to Johnson, therapeutic cloning is, from a pro-life perspective even worse than reproductive cloning, since with therapeutic cloning the only difference is that the human clones created are sure to be killed, rather than allowed to survive till birth.  Obama is on record as having supported such legislation as a Senator.

Johnson noted that the NIH guidelines which seem more restrictive, and on which Fiorentino’s observations are based, “are nothing but a temporary measure for a bill being drafted that will allow for human cloning.”  Johnson suggested that the confusion that has resulted is a “deliberate strategy” in which “the public are lulled into complacency thinking some kind of compromised has been reached.”

A former diplomat himself, Monsignor Barreiro explained the tactic being used by the Vatican newspaper. “It is a diplomatic move similar to the one used several years ago towards the Soviet Union,” he said.  

“So here we have a replay of the Ostpolitik that was inspired by Cardinal Agostino Casaroli. This policy is inspired by the perceived need to reach a working accommodation with the many governments in Europe and in America that are dominated by liberal and socialist ideologies.”

Barreiro added however: “In the same way that the Ostpolitik did not work and only weakened the Church, this current approach to the Democratic Administration will fail and would lead to a further weakening of the Church in the U.S. and probably worldwide.”

Johnson’s assessment too is that such writings, which swallow the deceptive rhetoric, are “not helpful”.  He concluded: “There’s nothing  middle of the road about the substantive policies that this administration is pursuing on life issues.  All of the talk on life issues is a purely rhetorical smoke screen. He has been more extreme than Clinton … Clinton was pretty bad, but Obama is substantively worse. He’s done more faster to hurt the pro-life cause, and now of course he’s going to have an opportunity to put somebody on the Supreme Court.”