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Vatican newspaper: Obama’s stem-cell research guidelines ‘not so very permissive’

Catholic World News - April 30, 2009

In a L’Osservatore Romano analysis of President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office, Giuseppe Fiorentino emphasizes that the new American president’s policies do not, in general, mark a sharp break with the past. Comparing Obama to his predecessors Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, Fiorentino writes:

While he has been accused by some of excessive statism, he has not really made the country slide toward socialism. Through a calmer analysis, however, one notices that Obama has moved with caution: very reluctant to face the idea of nationalizing of banking institutions, he has supported a private rescue plan for credit institutions. According to the International Herald Tribune, he is showing an unexpected resemblance to Ronald Reagan, the president who waved a flag of retreat for the state before the private sector. And the Bush-Paulson combination was revealed to be much more statist in recent months with the partial nationalization of the real estate mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Fiorentino-- in marked contrast to recent statements of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops-- offers a surprisingly positive assessment of the new president’s approach to life issues:

Also 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. They do not allow the creation of new embryos for research purposes or therapeutic cloning for reproductive purposes, and federal funds may only be used for experimentation with redundant embryos. This does not remove the grounds for criticism in the face of unacceptable forms of bioengineering that run counter to the very human identity of the embryo, but the new regulation is not so very permissive.

Earlier in April, Fiorentino coauthored a L’Osservatore Romano article that paid tribute to the 1969 hippie film Easy Rider, and in doing so took a swipe at the Hays Code-- which promoted wholesomeness in movies between 1930 and 1968-- as “hypocritical and anachronistic.”

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