John Allen at NCR gives some prudent advice so that the picture to your right of the wax figurines at Madame Tussaud’s isn’t the last picture we have of the Pontiff and the President. Hat tip to Mark Wilson for the photo.

Allen suugest that the Vatican does not simply wish to forgo having conversations with the President simply because our President is pro-choice. Perhaps there’s a message there for many people in the Catholic pundantry and others who probably think otherwise. In fact, the Pope is doing quite a bit of outreach.

The pope sent a telegram on Wednesday calling your election “a historic occasion,” and offering his prayer that God will “support you and the American people, so that through the good will of all, a world of peace, solidarity and justice can be built.” Lombardi likewise expressed hope that you “will be able to match the expectations and the hopes directed towards the new president, effectively serving justice and rights, finding the best ways to promote peace in the world, favoring the growth and dignity of persons with respect for essential human and spiritual values.”

You’ll notice that neither the pope nor his spokesperson explicitly mentioned abortion or other areas of disagreement, and certainly their tone suggests that concern for the “life issues” will not exclude cooperation in other areas. On the contrary, the Vatican seems to be doing everything it can to invite it.

Allen goes on to suggest one way that the White House and Vatican can work togther:

I believe there is a historic opportunity for your administration and the Holy See to work together to move the international community, at long last, toward serious engagement on behalf of peace and development in Africa.

You are a hero to much of Africa, giving you a degree of political capital on the continent that no other Western leader could rival. At the same time, 2009 is shaping up as a “Year of Africa” in global Catholicism. Over the next 12 months, Pope Benedict XVI will visit Cameroon and Angola; the African bishops will hold their plenary assembly in Rome; and bishops from all over the world will converge on Rome for a “Synod for Africa.” All this suggests the possibility of synergy between the world’s most important political and spiritual leaders — i.e., you and the pope — to promote peace and development for Africa, where the world’s most impoverished and abandoned people are today found.

During the Pope’s visit to the U.S. now President-elect Obama also had some positive words to say about B16. Hat tip to the Boston Globe:

“At a time when American families face rising costs at home and a range of worries abroad, the theme of Pope Benedict’s journey, ‘Christ Our Hope,’ offers comfort and grace as well as a challenge to all faith communities to put our faith into action for the common good. It will not only be Catholics who are listening to the Holy Father’s message of hope and peace; all Americans will be listening with open hearts and minds.”

Agreed…now go read it all here.

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