VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI congratulated U.S. President
Barack Obama on his re-election, saying that he prayed the
ideals of freedom and justice that guided America's founders
might continue to flourish.
The Vatican did not make public the full text of the pope's
telegram to Obama, which was sent via Archbishop Carlo Maria
Vigano, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Nov. 7.
"In the message, the Holy Father sent his best wishes to the
president for his new term and assured him of his prayers
that God might assist him in his very great responsibility
before the country and the international community," the
Vatican said in a statement.
The pope also told Obama he was praying that "the ideals of
liberty and justice that guided the founders of the United
States of America might continue to shine" as the nation goes
forward, the statement said.
In remarks to reporters, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi,
Vatican spokesman, voiced hopes that Obama would also promote
"a culture of life and religious freedom."
It is the hope of everyone that President Obama "respond to
the expectations" of the American people and "serve law and
justice for the well-being and growth of every person, by
respecting essential human and spiritual values and by
promoting the culture of life and religious freedom, which
have always been so precious in the tradition of the American
people and their culture," the priest said.
U.S. Catholic bishops have been at odds with Obama over his
support for legalized abortion and his administration's plan
to require that the private health insurance plans of most
Catholic institutions cover surgical sterilization procedures
and artificial birth control, which are forbidden by the
church's moral teaching.
The role of president of the United States is "an immense
responsibility not just for the great nation, but for the
whole world, given the United States' role on the world
stage," Father Lombardi said, expressing hopes that the
president would be able to "find the best ways to promote the
material and spiritual well-being of all and effectively
promote integral human development, justice and peace in the