Vatican Paper Urges Obama to Remember War on Life

Notes Reservations on Criteria for Peace Prize Selection

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 13, 2009 ( Upon accepting the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, U.S. President Barack Obama should remember not only the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also the war being waged against the unborn, according to an article in L’Osservatore Romano.

The semi-official Vatican newspaper published an article in Sunday’s Italian edition that responded to Obama’s peace prize win.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the news Friday, saying it recognized the president’s “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.”

L’Osservatore’s article, signed by Lucetta Scaraffia, urged the president to recognize “that the longest war, with the greatest number of ‘fallen,’ is the practice of abortion, legalized and facilitated by international structures.”

The article urged the president to recall the words of 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who called abortion the “greatest destroyer of peace today, […] because it is a direct war, a direct killing — direct murder by the mother herself.”

The newspaper noted that Obama’s Nobel win had “caught everyone a bit by surprise, first of all the President of the United States himself.” It was the first time since Woodrow Wilson was awarded the prize in 1919 that a U.S. president received the award while in office.

The article stated that giving the award to Obama while he is in office makes it “a form of pressure to incline Obama toward peaceful choices in carrying out his mandate.”
“Judged on the basis of the decisions taken to date, it would be difficult to describe the President as a wholehearted pacifist,” the article stated.

L’Osservatore noted that Obama’s policies on “Iraq and Afghanistan seem to be halfway between fidelity to pacifist principles proclaimed during the electoral campaign, and a more realistic policy, that some have actually described as a continuation of that of ‘warmonger’ Bush.”
“It is an oscillating policy very similar to that held by the American president in addressing important bioethical topics, above all in regard to abortion, which has aroused so much controversy among U.S. Catholics,” it added.


L’Osservatore Romano also called into question the process of choosing the winner of the peace prize, noting that Pope John Paul II had been passed over twice — in 1999 and 2003.

The Nobel Committee chose Médecins Sans Frontières in 1999, and Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi in 2003.

The Pontiff was “considered a great favorite in 2003, after his condemnation of the war in Iraq,” said L’Osservatore. “In that year many initiatives and the favor of a great part of the world seemed to destine him naturally to the prize. He was regarded as the favorite even by bettors.”

Pope John Paul II “was regarded by members of the jury as being too conservative in other areas and it was feared that, by awarding with him the Catholic Church, an important religious confession would be favored to the detriment of the others.”

“Fears,” it noted, “that evidently were overcome in the case, far more controversial, of the award to Obama.”
“Once again, therefore, the Nobel Prize for Peace has sparked questions and criticisms, given that the criteria for designation often seem influenced by politically correct thought,” L’Osservatore noted.

“As the director of the Holy See Press Office stated,” the article concluded, “we cannot but be delighted to see recognized in President Obama the effort for nuclear disarmament and the undoubted personal propensity to a policy turned more to peace than to affirming American power in the world.”

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