National Security & Defense

Ambassador: Pope Won’t Talk Abortion With Obama

President Obama with Pope Francis at the Vatican in March 2014. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty)

Don’t expect President Obama and Pope Francis to spend much time debating abortion issues when they meet during the pope’s American visit, according to the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.

The papal tour starts as a series of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood employees has renewed the abortion debate, but the pope is unlikely to press Obama about such issues. ‘‘There are differences [on abortion],” Ambassador Ken Hackett, the president’s envoy to the Vatican, told Bloomberg Business. “I don’t think that’s where they are going to put all their energies when they sit down one-on-one.”

Francis’s trip will have a significant influence on the debate over his role in the Roman Catholic Church and American politics. Liberal activists have hailed the pope’s emphasis on issues that align with their political views, while some confessional parishioners have worried that his tone on social issues may signal a willingness to change the church. With the deadline for reauthorizing the government’s budget looming on September 31, just a few days after the pope’s departure, any action or inaction on his part will likely affect a burgeoning fight over defunding Planned Parenthood, in light of the videos that suggest the group is profiting from the sale of fetal organs.

#share#Hackett predicted that the pope would focus on “the excesses of capitalism” when he addresses a joint session of Congress. ‘‘I think that he will call people in our Congress, in our nation, to recapture or capture the values that made our nation great: the hospitality, the generosity, the concern for those who fall through the cracks,’’ he said.

Such a speech could boost the Democrats’ policy agenda, but Pope Francis’s writings suggest he believes that the theme of spiritual renewal encompasses abortion, as well. “Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion,” he wrote in a recent encylical. “Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted?”

— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.


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