America at the start
Fr Ireneusz Skubis
Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States and the first black US President, took the oath of office on 20 January 2009. America is only allegedly far from us – the world is one global, especially political, village. And we ask ourselves, ‘What can we expect from this president’s term?’… At first I want to refer to the very ceremony of the US President’s swearing. I recollect the old papal coronations. When the Pope received the crown – tiara, some cardinal approached him carrying a tray with smouldering tow and he said, ‘Sic transit Gloria mundi’ – Thus passes the glory of the world.’ It was to be a warning that external splendour passes quickly, that’s why you should focus on what is most important. It is worth remembering this symbolism to everyone that assumes power and especially the responsibility of the US President. Since truly, the glory of the world can be great. Supposedly ca. 2 million people camped in Washington to enjoy the ceremony of the inauguration of the new president. For all of us it was very interesting because it was connected with breaking the racial stereotypes concerning the new leader of the United States. It is known that each election and presidency require enormous effort of not only one man but of groups, parties, economic and business powers – perhaps the latter back the candidate for president most strongly. It is known that influence, money and possibilities are connected with authority. Authority is not some ‘Cinderella’ of little meaning that does not exert great influence on life; the more that the authority of the US President is leading in the world politics. That’s why the inauguration of Barack Obama’s presidency is undoubtedly a great event. The world powers, representatives of various political parties, various nations look at him. So far the new US President has not said any special words to Poles, even in Chicago where he comes from and where there is the biggest Polish immigrants’ centre. He showed no signs that he took notice of the Polish raison d’etat. By the way, President Bush did not show any special interest in our nation, either. He visited Poland. Because of him we sent troops to Iraq and we counted on his favour. We must state that we are not noticed ‘higher’… And as far as Barack Obama is concerned another thing has hurt us: he did not notice the Catholic Church; he did not invite any bishop of this Church to deliver an important speech during his inauguration. We know that the President of the American Bishops’ Conference Cardinal Francis George presented the new President the fundamental theses of the Church’s teaching, which we cannot abandon, including the priority of respect for human life. At the same time Cardinal George expressed readiness to collaborate. We respect and appreciate the excellent letter of Cardinal George. The important thing is that not only the President but all his intellectual, moral and administrative ‘background’ knew what is the stand of the biggest American Church concerning many phenomena and problems of life.
The new American President begins a period of normal work, efforts and struggles – time burdened with exceptional tensions and problems. We must pray for him; we must ask Lord God for light and help so that he could rule in the name of God, so that all his endeavours result from good intentions based on solid principles because it will influence the world politics. The man who manages such a large country must also have certain universal philosophy – may it be God’s philosophy, having a proper vision of human life. One can conclude from the declaration of the US President that he supports women’s right to abort unwanted pregnancies. And this attitude is dangerous not only for America. Let me remind you that towards his term the former US President George W. Bush declared National Sanctity of Human Life Day and he defended this life. It was a pity that he did not obey John Paul II who asked him to stop the war activities in Iraq. This was perhaps his biggest defeat, which influenced his whole image… Let merciful God give the new President the grace to discern the truth about human life so that he understood that it has sense from the very moment of conception to natural death. We ask Lord God for victory of the civilisation of life and love – for the good of America and the whole world.