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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shifting Gears

Shifting Gears
Sarkozy's trip to the Vatican is long over, and I'll not dwell on it. At least he didn't cut any deals or sell nuclear reactors to the Pope! He delivered an uncommonly pro-Catholic speech, of which this is a small excerpt published at Le Salon Beige:

It is in the interests of the Republic that there exist also a moral reflection inspired by religious convictions. First because secular morality ("morale la"ique") always runs the risk of wearing itself out or changing into fanaticism when it isn't backed up by hope that aspires to the infinite. And then because morality stripped of any ties to transcendence is more exposed to historic contingencies and eventually to facileness. (...) In the end, the danger is that the ethical criterion becomes not to do what one must do, but to do what one can do. It's a great question. In the secular Republic, the political man that I am does not have to make decisions based on religious considerations. But it is important that his thinking and his conscience be enlightened by opinions that reference norms and convictions which are free from immediate contingencies."

It is difficult to recognize Sarkozy in those words. Or in these reported by Yahoo:

"My presence among you this evening is a testimony of France's faithfulness to her history and to one of the major sources of its civilization."

"Faced with the disappearance of values, and with the upheavals our societies are experiencing, I want to say by my presence that we need the contribution of the Catholic Church, as of the other great religious and spiritual doctrines, to enlighten our choices and construct our future."

Before the visit, the presidential spokesman David Martinon had called the Vatican "extremely active and influential" in diplomacy. "It is a partner and an ally of importance on a great number of topics" such as Lebanon and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, he stressed.

Sarkozy's day in Rome ended with a dinner at Chigi Palace attended by the president of the Italian Council, Romano Prodi and the president of the Spanish government Jos'e Luis Rodrigues Zapatero. At the dinner Sarkozy discussed his plans for a Mediterranean Union.

Now THAT sounds more like Sarkozy - a man most definitely influenced by "immediate contingencies."

After Rome, Sarkozy made a quick unannounced trip to Afghanistan to lunch with French soldiers and reaffirm his commitment to assist the Americans.

Now it's on to Egypt.