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Positive economic approach

VATICAN CITY (CNS): President Barack Obama’s efforts to tackle the economic crisis drew praise from a Nobel Prize-winning member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

At a Vatican press conference on May 6, the president of the academy, United States Catholic scholar Mary Ann Glendon, was asked about Mr Obama’s economic strategies in light of Catholic teaching. She avoided specific comments on Mr Obama’s policies.

But the chancellor of the academy Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo intervened to say that the prize-winning US economist Joseph Stiglitz, an academy member since 2003, had spoken in favour of the US President’s economic moves.

Mr Stiglitz believes that, “from the social justice point of view, the approaches that (Mr Obama) is trying to take are positive”, Bishop Sanchez said.

Ms Glendon, who presided over the academy’s May 1-5 plenary assembly at the Vatican, announced that academy members would be addressing the world financial crisis during next year’s meeting.

Taking up the topic “The Crisis in the Global Economy”, academy members will focus on “perspectives on the current crisis that tend to be neglected”, Ms Glendon said.

She said the social sciences academy felt it was important to study the impact and causes of the crisis and then “explore possible ways out” of the world’s financial downturn that would take into account Catholic social teaching.

When a journalist asked Ms Glendon, who was US ambassador to the Vatican under President George W Bush, about how Mr Obama was dealing with the economic crisis, she said “we want to be, as an academy, in a position to evaluate the policy responses that are taking place in various countries”.

She did not comment on the controversy over the University of Notre Dame’s decision to give Mr Obama, the scheduled commencement speaker, an honorary degree.

Ms Glendon, who had been invited to the commencement event on May 17 to receive the Indiana university’s prestigious Laetare Medal, recently turned down the honour.

In a letter on April 27 to Notre Dame’s president Holy Cross Father John Jenkins she cited her concerns that the university would “honour a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice”.

Mr Obama supports legal abortion and his administration recently proposed new regulations that would expand the use of federal funds for embryonic stem-cell research. Both are in direct conflict with Church teaching.

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