What would you do if you were a Catholic politician (or, more accurately, a politician who was a member of the Catholic Church) and you got an invitation from the Pope to a meeting of international Catholic political leaders to a 2-day seminar in which the topic of discussion would be “Witnesses of Christ in the Political Community”? Would you accept or decline the offer?
If this report is true, that is something that German chancellor Angela Merkel, US vice president Joe Biden and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will have to decide. For former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Spanish premier Jose Maria Aznar, the decision will be much easier – because they are no longer answerable to their parties and constituencies.
The problem for the sitting politicians is, as far as I can see, the desire on the one hand to validate their claim to being faithful Catholics, and the fear on the other hand of giving their people the impression that Catholic politicians really do take their marching orders from the Pope and this proposed meeting is proof of it.
Of course, if Tony Abbot was on the invite list, we know that he would not hesitate. Everyone already “knows” he takes his orders direct from the Vatican. (Which is why he is so busy going around putting his rosary on women’s ovaries…). Or consider what might happen if the Holy Father expanded his invite list to include our Kevin – who is, of course, a fully initiated, if not card-carrying, Catholic.