February 11, 2013

When I saw this, I thought it was a parody of a presidential statement:

On behalf of Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years. The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s successor.

But no, that’s the real thing. To complete the theme, I’m surprised it did not end, “But enough about me, Your Holiness, what do you think of my agenda?”

Pope Benedict
Pope Benedict XVI (Getty Images)

What is important about the pope and his resignation is not, alas, that Obama met with him. And I am puzzled by the use of the phrase “our work together over these four years.” Did Obama reduce the number of abortions in the United States? No, that can’t be it. Did he reduce poverty here in the United States? Tragically not. (“Poverty has soared under Obama, with the number of Americans in poverty increasing to the highest level in the more than 50 years that the Census Bureau has been tracking poverty. Over the last 5 years, the number in poverty has increased by nearly 31%, to 49.7 million, with the poverty rate climbing by over 30% to 16.1%. Obama has also been the food stamp President, with the number on food stamps increasing during his Administration to an all time record high of 47.7 million, up 80% over the past 5 years.”) Hmm, what about speaking out against Christian persecution? Nope, that couldn’t be it. Ending the mass murder in Syria? Nope. Coming up with an initiative to save lives in Africa? No — that was President George W. Bush.

So I have no idea what work Obama is boasting about, nor do I see anything about God, Catholicism or anything having to do with religion in the president’s statement. You’d think the pope was head of a secular charity (“The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world”) rather than the spiritual head of a worldwide religion.

Compare the statement to that of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.):

Today Pope Benedict XVI displayed the qualities of an excellent leader and a true man of God by putting the interests of the Vatican and the Catholic Church over his own papacy. Since becoming Pope in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has served the Church honorably, particularly through his work promoting charity across the globe. I wish him well in the future and, as a Catholic, I thank him for his service to God and the Church. I also look with optimism toward the future of the Catholic Church as it prepares to welcome a new leader and as it continues to spread God’s message of faith, hope and love to all the corners of the world.

The president isn’t a Catholic, but his antiseptic, self-centered statement is really a shoddy effort. Maybe, like the fiscal cliff, he should have left this one to Vice President Biden.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.