Pope Praises Bush’s Efforts on HIV/AIDS, Abortion During Meeting at Vatican
Pope John Paul II on Friday during a meeting at the Vatican "praised" President Bush for his leadership against abortion rights in the United States and HIV/AIDS in Africa, the Washington Post reports (Milbank, Washington Post, 6/5). In reference to abortion and other issues, the Pope said, "I ... continue to follow with great appreciation your commitment to the promotion of moral values in American society, particularly with regard to respect for life and the family" (Stevenson, New York Times, 6/5). The pope also noted Bush's efforts to decrease the effects of HIV/AIDS on African nations (Washington Post, 6/5). According to the New York Times, "[a]lthough White House officials denied any political motivation, the chance to associate ... Bush with that moral authority five months before Election Day has clear political implications." By meeting with the pope, Bush expands his potential to secure a larger share of the Catholic vote, the Times reports (New York Times, 6/5). Roman Catholics are "a potentially pivotal bloc in the election," making up the country's largest religious denomination with 65 million people, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. According to the Inquirer, Catholics are "split evenly between Democrats and Republicans." Economic issues pull "blue-collar, ethnic, big-city Catholics to the Democratic Party," while social issues such as abortion draw "culturally conservative Catholics to the Republicans," the Inquirer reports. According to the Inquirer, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), who is Catholic, "add[s] to the drama" surrounding the Catholic vote because of his support for abortion rights (Thomma, Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.