EWTN’s interview with President Bush ahead of the Pope’s visit is annoyingly slight. Bush, a committed Christian, pro-lifer and opponent of moral relativism, seems to share Benedict XVI’s outlook on the modern world, at least superficially. Yet there is this nasty issue of the Iraq War, which–as anyone who cares knows–the Catholic Church, and Benedict XVI in particular, opposed. Sadly the EWTN interviewer skates over the difficult questions in a sycophantic mist.
Q Let’s talk a moment about Iraq… I think his perspective is going to be very different from what we’re reading in the newspapers this week. I think what he’ll primarily talk about, and if my sources at the Vatican can be believed, he will probably talk about the 40 bombed churches —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q: 40 percent of the refugees being Christian —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q: He’s very concerned about that Christian minority in Iraq.
THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely.
Q: When he spoke to you in 2007 he raised this. What is the administration prepared to do for this fledgling remnant of Christianity — an ancient community there?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, absolutely. You know, it’s something we have been doing all along, is urging the government to understand that minority rights are a vital part of any democratic society. And by the way, my concern isn’t just for minority rights in Iraq; it’s for minority rights throughout the Middle East.
Well yes, the Pope is deeply worried about Christians in Iraq. But the Catholic Church’s opposition to the war was not made simply out of concern for its co-religionists in the region. The invasion of Iraq, in the Church’s view, was inherently unjustified and therefore morally wrong. Surely the interviewer should have made this point. And, even if one does limit discussion to the plight of the Iraqi faithful, it should be pointed out that, under Saddam Hussein, Christians were much, much better off than they are today.
At least we can hope that Benedict XVI will be more forthright with the President.