In his column Word from Rome (Sept. 24, '04), John Allen, Jr. reports that
. . . Julian Hunte, a pro-choice Catholic politician in the West Indies who was awarded a papal knighthood Sept. 19. Hunte was made a Knight of the Grand Cross Pian Order. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano bestowed the honor in a New York ceremony.
As the [Catholic Herald] notes, the award is especially interesting in light of the debate currently swirling in the United States over the eligibility of pro-choice Catholic politicians for the Eucharist.
Hunte, the Minister for External Affairs of Santa Lucia, recently concluded his term as president of the United Nations General Assembly. The Vatican recognized him for his role in a resolution regarding the work of the Holy See in the United Nations.
Hunte was also, however, the deciding vote last year on a bill in the upper chamber of the St. Lucian parliament that decriminalized abortion in that Caribbean nation. In December, that measure passed by five votes to four, with Hunte in favor.
"I think every woman must have a choice. I am a pro-choice man," Hunte said during a parliamentary debate before votes were cast.
According to Allen, "the Vatican's classic approach to political forces with which it disagrees might be dubbed 'constructive engagement.' The idea is that it's better to keep lines of communication open than to burn bridges." A priest by the name of Fr. Linus Clovis calls it a mockery, however, and is appealing the Pope to overturn the decision. Read the rest of the story.
Even the USCCB, despite all their waffling on the issue of communion, came to the decision that:
The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.
So it is to be expected that some Catholics might be compelled to voice their discontent with this award, which is clearly an act of extremely poor judgement on the part of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State of the Holy See.