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Pontifications

Or that’s what NCR columnist John Allen tries to do in his weekly column out today. You’ll recall the outcry after the initial report of Cardinal Stafford’s remarks at CUA in Washington.
Today, Allen argues that Stafford’s remarks must be viewed in context. John has the goods, including this YouTube audio and this excerpt of the relevant passage:

“Our exploration this weekend takes place in the context of Nov. 4, 2008. On that date, a cultural earthquake hit America. Senator Barak Obama was elected President of the United States. He appears to be a relaxed, smiling man. His rhetorical skills, as I mentioned, are very highly developed. He has a way of teasing crowds, and, from all reports, even individuals one-to-one. Under all of that grace and charm, there is a tautness of will, a clenched jaw, a state of constant alertness to attack and resist any external influence that might threaten his independence. A ‘state of alertness,’ yes … that’s putting it mildly. Beneath each word he speaks, he carries on sapping operations against the enemy city. His clenched jaw was seen at his talk before the Planned Parenthood supporters July 17, 2007. There he asserted, and I’m quoting somewhat out of context but not out of his meaning: ‘We are not only going to win this election, but also we are going to transform this nation. … The first thing I’d do as president is to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. … I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught constitutional law. … I don’t want my daughters punished by a pregnancy. … On this issue, I will not yield.’ Note the way the president-elect wished to describe the killing of his unborn grandchild. His daughters must not be ‘punished,’ ‘punished,’ by pregnancy. His rhetoric is post-modernist, and marks an agenda and vision that are aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic. Catholics weep over these words. We weep over the violence concealed behind the rhetoric of our young president-to-be. What should we do with our hot, angry tears of betrayal? First, our tears are agonistic. We must acknowledge that. For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden.”

Among other things, Allen argues that this shows Stafford was referring to Obama’s rhetoric, and in a particular event, not to Obama as a person. I think that’s too generous a reading by half, at least. Moreover, Stafford’s characterizations of Obama himself are striking–to me–worse than what was originally reported, portraying Obama as an almost predatory character, both dangerous and deceptive. But judge for yourself, reading it all here

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