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US bishops congratulate Obama on Nobel; Vatican paper says award 'premature'

October 13, 2009

The president of the US bishops' conference has offered congratulations to President Barack Obama for his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize. But the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano commented that the award seemed "premature" in light of the American leader's scant accomplishments.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, speaking in his capacity as president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said that the Nobel prize was a recognition that President Obama "has already changed the international conversation." He noted, however, that the president himself had acknowledged that "much of the work of realizing a more peaceful and just world for all persons and nations remains to be done."

L'Osservatore Romano went further, suggesting that the Nobel committee offered the American leader the award as a way of "pressuring Obama to make pacifist choices." To date, the Vatican paper observed, Obama's foreign policy seems to have vacillated between peace initiatives and military actions. The paper added the barbed observation that Obama has shown the same inconsistency in his approach to "the great bioethics issues, with abortion first and foremost." L'Osservatore Romano quoted the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a previous Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who said that abortion is the greatest threat to the future security of mankind.

The Vatican paper also noted that Pope John Paul II never won the Nobel Peace Prize, although his name was repeatedly raised in speculation about the award. Apparently, the paper said, the late Pope "was considered by the members of the committee as too conservative" on moral issues. The committee evidently had no similar reservations about appearing partisan by giving the award to Obama, L'Osservatore said.


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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Oct. 18, 2009 9:57 AM ET USA

    "Apparently, the paper said, the late Pope "was considered by the members of the committee as too conservative" on moral issues" And that unfortuantley says it all..., about them, and their prejudices... Rightly the Scripture says, "A man will be judged by his own words..."