Skip to comments.Closet Catholic In the White House? (you be the judge)
Posted on 04/15/2008 8:07:25 AM PDT by NYer
Daniel Burke at the Washington Post thinks that President Bush might be pulling a Tony Blair. Burke tells of the Catholic based culture that rules the west wing and some other lingering suspicions.
Shortly after Pope Benedict XVI's election in 2005, President Bush met with a small circle of advisers in the Oval Office. As some mentioned their own religious backgrounds, the president remarked that he had read one of the new pontiff's books about faith and culture in Western Europe.While this concept of a Catholic run White House may be humorous to some, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus says that it is not so far fetched.
Save for one other soul, Bush was the only non-Catholic in the room. But his interest in the pope's writings was no surprise to those around him. As the White House prepares to welcome Benedict on Tuesday, many in Bush's inner circle expect the pontiff to find a kindred spirit in the president. Because if Bill Clinton can be called America's first black president, some say, then George W. Bush could well be the nation's first Catholic president.
"I don't think there's any question about it," says Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and a devout Catholic, who was the first to give Bush the "Catholic president" label. "He's certainly much more Catholic than Kennedy."
Bush has also placed Catholics in prominent roles in the federal government and relied on Catholic tradition to make a public case for everything from his faith-based initiative to antiabortion legislation. He has wedded Catholic intellectualism with evangelical political savvy to forge a powerful electoral coalition.Finally, Burke hints that some close to the President might not be suprised if he pulled a Tony Blair one day by converting after leaving office.
"There is an awareness in the White House that the rich Catholic intellectual tradition is a resource for making the links between Christian faith, religiously grounded moral judgments and public policy," says Richard John Neuhaus, a Catholic priest and editor of the journal First Things who has tutored Bush in the church's social doctrines for nearly a decade.
Moreover, people close to Bush say that he has professed a not-so-secret admiration for the church's discipline and is personally attracted to the breadth and unity of its teachings. A New York priest who has befriended the president said that Bush respects the way Catholicism starts at the foundation -- with the notion that the papacy is willed by God and that the pope is Peter's successor. "I think what fascinates him about Catholicism is its historical plausibility," says this priest. "He does appreciate the systematic theology of the church, its intellectual cogency and stability." The priest also says that Bush "is not unaware of how evangelicalism -- by comparison with Catholicism -- may seem more limited both theologically and historically."Color me skeptical, but I don't think so.
Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, another evangelical with an affinity for Catholic teaching, says that the key to understanding Bush's domestic policy is to view it through the lens of Rome. Others go a step further.
Paul Weyrich, an architect of the religious right, detects in Bush shades of former British prime minister Tony Blair, who converted to Catholicism last year. "I think he is a secret believer," Weyrich says of Bush. Similarly, John DiIulio, Bush's first director of faith-based initiatives, has called the president a "closet Catholic." And he was only half-kidding.
Anyone recall the photo of President Bush sitting next to a table on which was a religious icon?
Note to Paul: You don't have to be Catholic to be a believer.
It was the best decision I ever made in my life.
Bush never made it a secret he is a believer. He was up front about that, it’s why he endeared himself to so many voters.
Yes, that was a small icon of the Virgin Mary, given to him by his brother (who is Catholic).
Amen! But, it seemed as though Weyrich's statement was insinuating that Catholics are the only "true" believers.
I can’t see him bowing ang scraping to all those statues. And the first time he called the Bishop “Old Playboy” that would be the end of that.
Thanks for the insulting rhetoric - somebody HAS to get that ball rolling.
I agree. I'm a protestant, but I don't fault Catholics on their faith either. It is Weyrich's statement I have a problem with:
"I think he is a secret believer," Weyrich says of Bush.
No. He is not. He is a very public believer!
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16
And most importantly, so does Jesus.
You knew it was going to get started quickly. Soon some of the usual suspects will be here, so all I’ll say is:
Ok, I will join in.
I am a Catholic and I love the beautiful art in our churches....it inspires prayer. It’s like entering another world to reflect and pray in a beautiful old church. Nothing wrong with that. And I pray to God alone.
Pope Benedict XVI has NEVER been accused of adultory. You imply otherwise.
You, AppyPappy, are insulting your fellow FReepers.
Ya’ll are too tense and take yourselves too seriously.
The statement was in reference to whether Bush might be contemplating becoming Catholic. It is not meant to say he is not a believer in general it speaks to a specific belief.
I interpret this to mean he was a follower of the Pope as he was reading his writings. I believe Bush read his book and writings to prepare himself to converse with the Pope when he met him. That would make Bush a boy scout, always prepared. Not a “closet” Catholic. It shows that Bush reaches out to others to understand them. Weyrich’s statements are silly.
PPPHHHHHHTTTT! You owe me a new keyboard! Good thing I was drinking sugar-free lemonade, or I’d send you the exterminator bill, too.
And you don’t take yourself serious enough, but I will gladly accept your backhanded apology. Thank you. ;^)
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