Multiple Press Sources: President Bush May Be Recieved into Holy Catholic Church at Term's EndCatholic News Agency forwards a report from the London Telegraph and the Italian daily Il Foglio that President Bush is seriously considering being received into full communion with the Catholic Church at the expiration of his Presidential term in 2009. [Note-If the President really is converting, the earliest he could be received into the Church is Easter 2009, unless it should be the choice of the minister who oversees his preparation, as well as the President himself, that he should be received at an earlier date.]
While some may be quick to dismiss this as mere rumor, it should be pointed out that Catholics surround the President at the highest levels, and he has given the nation its first Catholic Supreme Court majority in the history of the Republic. Further, the President's Brother is not only a practicing Catholic, but also a Knight of Columbus. The President has more Catholics on his White House team than are extant on the Notre Dame football starting roster. At some point, one has to believe that all of this Catholicism in the President's inner circle will finally bring the President himself around.
Aside from all of that, I have long thought the President to be a closet Catholic-that he was secretly one of us. The press crowed for days prior to the visit of Pope Benedict XVI that the Pope was going to rake the President over the coals about Iraq in public. That not only didn't happen, but the President rolled out the red carpet for the Holy Father in a way that was truly deserving of the dignity of the Petrine Office-something that has never before happened in this country, but would indicate that the President understood very well that he was welcoming the Vicar of Christ.
The press in this country loves to make great political stock out of the disagreement between the President and the Holy See over Iraq. However, a Vatican official who didn't wish to be identified had this to say to The Telegraph and Il Foglio:
"Anything is possible, especially for a born-again Christian such as Bush."
He added that while the Holy See deplored the war in Iraq, "on ethical matters he has always had a line that is practically identical to that of the Vatican." Mr Bush has spoken out against gay marriage, abortion and stem cell research. He proposed amending the US constitution to "fully protect marriage" as the "union of man and woman as husband and wife".
The unnamed person stated what Catholics in this country who actually care what the Holy See says have known for quite some time-that in spite of strong disagreements over foreign policy, particularly the war, that Bush was always preferable to the Church compared to what the Democrats had on offer for the reasons stated above.
For all of my disagreements with the President, I have always known that he has a respect for the Church unmatched by any previous President, including John F. Kennedy-who once elected tried to run from the doctrine of the faith as though it were some plague. It really isn't surprising that President Bush should be received into the Church. This story was first leaked, by the way, when the President was meeting with the Holy Father-for the second time in three months.
If the President is seeking to enter the Church, I would say that Benedict is aware of it from the President's own lips. I would also hazard to point out that if all of this is true, the Pope is overjoyed both for the President and for the Church.
(Thanks to Father John Putka, SM)