Right in the middle of what was shaping up to be an admirably fair and accurate New York Times article (seriously) summarizing the pope's day ("Pope Praises U.S., but Warns of Secular Challenges"), we get this account of President Bush's welcoming remarks this morning:
"The crowd burst into applause when Mr. Bush told the pope that Americans 'need your message that all life is sacred,' a reference to the two men’s shared opposition to abortion rights."
(They tried to find a more negative way to spin it, but there wasn't any.)
Actually, I'm pretty sure it was reference to Pope Benedict XVI's message that all life is sacred, which does not consist primarily in his "opposition" to abortion "rights," but rather in his -- and the Catholic Church's -- unwavering defense of the most fundamental of all rights, the foundation of all other rights, namely, "the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death," as the pope put it in his address to the bishops this evening.
The Catholic Church's position on this point is not a negative one, nor is it restricted to the issue of abortion. Pope Benedict XVI and the Church uphold the dignity and value of the lives of every single human being: the unborn, the elderly, and everyone in between. The Church's teaching cannot fairly be reduced to a partisan position on what, for many, is a political issue. Rather, the Church's teaching is indeed based on the conviction that all life is sacred, and the fact that without an inviolable right to life, all other rights -- no matter how important -- are ultimately meaningless.
But I guess that's too profound an idea to actually engage for those who trade in secular boilerplate.