In a telegram sent to the White House on Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI congratulated US President Barack Obama on winning re-election, ensuring the US leader that he would be in the pope’s prayers. The private note may not have been all positive however, as there remain key differences between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church, which includes nearly 80 million Americans.
The Catholic News Service reported that the pope sent the correspondence.
“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 message was sent through Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the apostolic nuncio, or ambassador, to the United States..
The Catholic Church in the United States has been at odds with the president over his health care reform law, which requires most religious institutions, and other employers, to provide health insurance that covers contraceptives. The legislation is written to include emergency contraceptives that some believe cause early term abortions. The Catholic Church opposes contraception and abortion on moral grounds.
Reuters reports that the Catholic Church sees the healthcare law as an affront to constitutionally protected religious freedom. US Bishops set up a website dedicated to their cause, First American Freedom. In addition, more than 20 lawsuits filed in attempt to halt or overturn the healthcare law have met with varying degrees of success.
The full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s telegram to Obama was not made public.