I guess they just mean to kill us with irony.
Reportedly, at the high-level gift exchange at the Vatican between Pope Francis and President Obama, the president received a copy of the Holy Father’s Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, and a rosary that the Pope had blessed.
We don’t know yet how Obama got rid of the Pope’s book, but he thought it was fitting to pass on the rosary to the most ardent Catholic he could think of – Nancy Pelosi. Paul Kengor at The American Spectator thinks he knows why:
Pelosi, after all, fancies herself an authoritative Catholic, and hasn’t hesitated to so represent herself to Obama and to the nation at large. She considers herself an expert on matters like ensoulment; that is, when life begins. In an August 2008 interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, she was asked by Tom Brokaw “When does life begin?” Pelosi proceeded to speak for her Church’s Magisterium: “I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator — Saint Augustine said at three months. We don’t know. The point is that it shouldn’t have an impact on a woman’s right to choose.”
It certainly doesn’t impact that “right” in the eyes of this particular Catholic. Pelosi has a unique sense of the sacred when it comes to abortion, which she describes as “sacred ground” to her. Asked last summer why she refused to support a bill banning late-term abortions, Pelosi said: “As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me.” (“Nancy Pelosi Accepts Margaret Sanger Award …And then calls Catholics like the Pope “dumb.”).
Pelosi recently proved what a “respectful Catholic” she is when she used an appearance at Planned Parenthood to insult pro-lifers – of whom the most visible earthly proponent for 40 years has been the current occupant of the Holy See: “When you see how closed their minds are, or oblivious, or whatever it is — dumb — then you know what the fight is about.”
As Kengor writes,
Planned Parenthood rewarded Pelosi for her ardor and sense of the sacred by bestowing upon her “its highest honor, its esteemed Margaret Sanger Award. Pelosi, of course, was thrilled, and Obama was no doubt thrilled for her (as he surely was for Hillary Clinton when she won the award in 2009).”
Neither Pelosi nor Obama in their grateful words to Planned Parenthood commented on the full breadth of Sanger’s “remarkable” work, such as her 1926 speech to a KKK rally in Silverlake, New Jersey or her penchant for “race improvement,” the driving motivation for her championing of birth control. The Planned Parenthood matron wanted to advance what she called “racial health,” and lamented America’s “race of degenerates.” This meant purging the landscape of its “human weeds” and “the dead weight of human waste.” For Sanger, this included a special “Negro Project” that the racial eugenicist had in mind for a particular group of Americans.
The Negro Project was dear to Sanger’s heart, as shown by an odd December 1939 letter she wrote to Dr. Clarence Gamble of Milton, Massachusetts. The Planned Parenthood foundress alerted the doctor: “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.”
The secret is still safe, which is how Planned Parenthood has successfully
annihilated countless millions of unborn babies, particularly (and disproportionately) African-American babies. In that, it is truly extraordinary. And it all began with Margaret Sanger. She is a progressive icon to liberals, a saint in the feminist church. They revere her.
Lessons from history don’t impress progressives much, as history makes them impatient; that’s why they’re always champing to get to the far side of it – well clear of the “wrong side of history” – where everyone is still, as Pelosi would phrase it, “dumb.” But never looking back (except to fumble out the occasional bit of obscure commentary from Senator Augustine) doesn’t protect progressives from being hypocritical and obtuse; it only protects them from knowing they’re that way.
Perhaps Pope Francis, well aware that the progressive aversion to the past, and lack of insight into the future, blinds them to everything but the present moment, selected his gifts to the President of the United States accordingly. I can’t say I exactly see the significance in giving a rosary to a president who is ostensibly protestant – but I do know the rosary is linked in Church tradition to the triumph of St. Dominic over the Albigensians, a dualistic religion teaching “principles that led directly to the very extinction of the human race.” That obscure history hardly recommends itself to the modern progressive mind. No intellectuals call themselves Albigensian any more. On the other hand, the occasional advocate for the extinction of the human race may still be found in a college classroom, at the EPA, or implementing the Affordable Care Act.
More directly significant, Pope Francis’s other gift, the Evangelii Gaudium, contains language that’s meant to reach the progressive mind, such as:
“It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.” (214).
Not that I expect Obama to read that, or even hang onto the book.
As for the Pope’s rosary, I don’t think Obama had returned to the United States with it before Pelosi’s appearance before Planned Parenthood. Too bad. She could have showed it off to her Planned Parenthood friends, a dismal number of whom are Catholics every bit as ardent and informed as herself. Then again, the sight of a rosary is bound to be offensive to Planned Parenthood members, isn’t it? It’s too closely associated with the army of pro-life Catholics who have deployed rosaries outside clinics in their “closed-minded” and “dumb” efforts to interfere with the onward progress of Mother Margaret Sanger’s blessed work.
“It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.”
One of my old bosses, a Catholic, returned from a family vacation to Rome a few years back with a gift for me of a rosary blessed by John Paul II during a general audience. I won’t say I’ve prayed it much, but I’ve kept it in its case, right in my study, and wouldn’t think of giving it away. It’s been in the hands of a man I admired very much, and who may be a saint someday. I wonder where Obama’s rosary is right now?