Words Not to Use Lightly When You Are Pope

May 9, 2007

One of those words has to be “excommunication.”

Pope Benedict XVI touched down in the world’s biggest Roman Catholic country yesterday hoping to help reverse a 20-year exodus to Brazil’s reborn evangelical churches, but immediately created controversy when he appeared to suggest that legislators who support laws allowing abortions should be excommunicated.

During a press conference on his flight to Sao Paulo, the Pope for the first time dealt in depth with a topic that has come up in many countries, including the United States, Mexico, and Italy.

He was asked whether he supported Mexican church leaders threatening to excommunicate leftist parliamentarians who last month voted to legalise abortion in Mexico City.

“Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by canon (church) law which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ,” he said.

The Vatican’s chief spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, later tried to downplay the comments, saying the Pope was not himself ordering excommunications.

The denial of communication to politicians who support abortion rights is, of course, a familiar issue in the United States, with the John Kerry situation in 2004. Will this issue affect Rudy Giuliani this time around?


Mitt: “Patria o Muerte!”

March 20, 2007

This story is fun.

Cubans in Miami are steaming mad at former Gov. Mitt Romney for shooting his mouth off in stumbling Spanish, mispronouncing names and erroneously associating a notorious Fidel Castro-spewed Communist catch phrase with freedom fighters.

Politicians in South Florida have lashed out at the former Massachusetts governor and 2008 presidential hopeful for describing the socialist saying “Patria o muerte, venceremos” as “inspiring” and for claimingthe phrase was swiped from liberty-seeking Cubans by leftist admirers of Castro.

The phrase, which means “Fatherland or death, we shall overcome,” was bellowed as a political speech sign-off by the dictator for decades.

At least Mitt should have the pro-Castro vote in south Florida in the bag now. (Joke via Keith Olbermann’s TV show and link via the Plank.) The Boston Herald adds to the lunacy with this photoshopped image.

Mitt as Fidel

Jorge W. Visits Colombia

March 11, 2007

Jorge W in Colombia


From the New York Times:

The risky nature of President Bush’s trip to this violent country was spelled out on a television monitor aboard Air Force One en route from Uruguay: “Colombia presents the most significant threat environment of this five country trip!”

Listing the terrorist and criminal threats as “high,” the message — meant for Mr. Bush’s security detail but seen by reporters on the plane — underscored the complications Mr. Bush is confronting during his visit to South and Central America.

Mr. Bush’s visit to Bogotá was in itself a statement of support for Mr. Uribe: no American president has visited the capital city since 1982, largely because of security concerns.

Aides said Mr. Bush chose to come to illustrate that under Mr. Uribe it was now possible for an American president to visit without incident.

But his hosts were not taking any chances. After the empty decoy motorcade left the airport, the real one traveled to the palace at speeds of up to 60 miles an hour under heavy military guard, with 20,000 troops and police assigned to his protection, lining his route with submachine guns visible on the street and on rooftops. The motorcade passed nearby protesters carrying a large sign that read “Yankee Go Home” and another banner displaying the Communist hammer and sickle.

The leading local newspaper here, El Tiempo, griped that Mr. Bush’s visit was too short, and featured a front-page headline that read, “Bush: Seven hours are enough?” Above it read a smaller headline listing the visits by the last two United States president to visit the city: “Kennedy (1961, 13 hours) and Reagan (1982, 5 hours).”

Rather than illustrating that it is “possible for an American president to visit without incident,” scenes like the one in Colombia on Sunday do more to demonstrate how huge the security concerns are and how limited presidential travel must be because of them. At what point does putting on a spectacle like this become counterproductive?