I do not know why I feel compelled to embarrass myself and my Christian faith on this blog.

Perhaps it is simply to reassure whatever little corner of the world is touched by these words that not everything out there that passes as “Christian” is necessarily subscribed to by all followers of Jesus.

This is certainly true when it comes to some of the “Christian” critique currently being hurled at Barack Obama.

In the build up to Obama’s visit with Pope Francis, there was much talk of the stark divisions between these two men.

I do not know if Cardinal Burke speaks for Pope Francis. He is the Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, making him the head of the highest court at the Vatican. Before taking this position he served as Archbishop of St. Louis (2003–2008).

So, although Cardinal Burke may not exactly be the Pope’s mouthpiece, he certainly speaks for someone in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. And his views on Barack Obama may give some indication of why it is speculated there would be tension in the room when the US President and the Pope sat down to chat.

In an interview with Polonia Christiana magazine http://www.pismo.poloniachristiana.pl Cardinal Burke draws a sharp line in the sand between Obama’s policies and what the Cardinal understands to be the values of Christian civilization. Burke says:

It is true that the policies of the President of the United States of America have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies. Now he wants to restrict the exercise of the freedom of religion to freedom of worship, that is, he holds that one is free to act according to his conscience within the confines of his place of worship but that, once the person leaves the place of worship, the government can constrain him to act against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions. Such policies would have been unimaginable in the United States even 40 years ago. It is true that many faithful Catholics, with strong and clear leadership from their Bishops and priests, are reacting against the ever-growing religious persecution in the U.S. Sadly, one has the impression that a large part of the population is not fully aware of what is taking place. In a democracy, such a lack of awareness is deadly. It leads to the loss of the freedom which a democratic government exists to protect. It is my hope that more and more of my fellow citizens, as they realize what is happening, will insist on electing leaders who respect the truth of the moral law as it is respected in the founding principles of our nation.


If this is not alarming, ponder what happens to this thinking process when it enters the popular imagination, in this case the imagination of fifty-nine-year-old Joseph Farah, the American author, journalist and editor-in-chief of the conservative website WorldNetDaily.

In Mr. Farah’s opinion, the fruit of Obama’s time as President of the US indicates with absolute clarity that

Today it’s growing increasingly clear that far from being a believer, as Obama claimed in 2008, he is an enemy of believers – a tormenter of Christians, a persecutor.

What is the evidence for this charge against Mr. Obama? Farah offers his assessment that

For the proponent of unlimited government, God is truly the enemy because He is the author of liberty. He is the enemy because no one must serve a higher god than government. Men have been placing themselves in God’s place, divining right from wrong, since the Garden of Eden. There’s nothing new under the sun. It always leads to one end – disaster, catastrophe, death, destruction, misery, hopelessness.


I doubt Cardinal Burke and Mr. Farah are close. But, the Cardinal needs to know that Mr. Burke and his ilk are quoting his words as support of their vitriolic attacks on the President of the United States.

The politics of division and polarization are compelling. But the damage this incendiary approach does to the cause of civil discourse is considerable.

The Cardinal, Mr. Burke, indeed all of us, might do well in the face of those with whom we have disagreements to ponder the wisdom of Proverbs 15:1:

A soft answer turns away wrath,
   but a harsh word stirs up anger.