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Tuesday, 15 April 2008

God's president? Maybe not

God has mysterious ways of choosing his second-in-command here on Earth. The other one, that is. The American president.

In 2004 he (that is to say, He) sent in a hit squad and warned hopeful John Kerry that he wouldn't get communion if he voted in favour of abortion.

But perhaps this year (the year Pope Ratzinger visits this "one nation under God") things won't be so easy, because the three candidates are in agreement over certain key issues. But nothing is simple.

The Independent has a take on it in a wider article about homophobic Ratzo's jolly holiday Stateside. Under the subhead "Is the visit an attempt to influence the election?", it has this to say:

Probably not. The Catholic hierarchy got embroiled in the 2004 election, when a handful of conservative bishops threatened to withhold Communion from Senator John Kerry because of his pro-abortion stance. But this time candidates [Hillary] Clinton, [Barak] Obama [Democrats] and [John] McCain [Republican] all support embryonic stem-cell research and have voted in favour of same-sex partnerships.

It is possible that if the Pope focuses on abortion that will be seen as favouring the Republican side, and if he speaks for world peace and against capital punishment and punitive immigration policies, that may be seen as pro-Democrat. But neither will be his intention.

But will he keep his mouth shut over questions of gay equality? Well, we don't know yet, but at least we know where he will stand:

On Friday he will make a major speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. [. . .] And while he will have plenty in common with President Bush on abortion, gay marriage and stem-cell research, he intends to make his feelings clear on the disastrous war in Iraq. Though he will attend a reception in the White House, he has made it clear that he will skip the state dinner in his honour as a protest over the Iraq war. It is not the kind of snub presidents of the United States are much used to.

God's chosen getting a bit petulant, eh?

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