Legion of Christ Father Owen J. Kearns, publisher, National Catholic Register: You have spoken against hostility towards religion. But what about the anti-Catholic remarks of some of your advisors [i.e., faith-based advisory council member Harry Knox calling the pope a "discredited leader" and the Knights of Columbus a "discredited army of oppression"].
Obama said this was the first time he was hearing about Knox's comments, "so it's not a defense of incendiary language. You will recall that my first question I strongly defended the rights of American bishops to engage in some fairly incendiary language when it came to me, right? " [Laughter.]
Father Kearns: "Fair enough."
Obama said he could answer only for those on his payroll, which Knox is not. The president said he wanted to bring together in roundtables disparate groups that "historically have been in conflict," but there was a risk because of the issues generate "great passion."
"For the gay and lesbian community in this country, I think it's clear that they feel victimized in fairly powerful ways and they're often hurt by not just certain teachings of the Catholic Church, but the Christian faith generally. And as a Christian, I'm constantly wrestling with my faith and my solicitude and regard and concern for gays and lesbians," he said.
While he said he opposed "knee-jerk" reactions to religion as intolerant, "I think that those of us who are people of faith also have to examine our own beliefs and wrestle with them and assure ourselves that we're not causing pain to others. And I think any of us, of whatever faith, would have to acknowledge that there have been times where religion has been used in the service of not such good stuff. And it's incumbent upon us to -- at least in my own view -- to engage in some deep reflection and entertain a willingness to question whether we are acting in a way that's consistent with not just church teachings but also what Jesus Christ our Lord called on us to do: Treat others as we would treat ourselves. Be our brother's keepers."