The National Catholic Review

In response to the ongoing controversy over the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Barack Obama to deliver this year’s commencement address, Hugh W. Cleary, C.S.C., superior general of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, has written an open letter to the president. While preliminary copies of his letter have been circulated on the Internet, Cleary asked America to post the official text of his letter on our Web site. That text can be found here.

Also, John R. Quinn, archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (formerly the N.C.C.B.), has addressed the controversy with the following exclusive commentary for America.

Drew Christiansen, S.J.


Anonymous | 4/7/2009 - 4:26pm
Hitler and his cronies ran the death camps. Obama does not run the abortion mills (nor did Bush or Clinton, et al). I am all for doing something about abortion, as there is much low hanging fruit in making child-rearing an economically viable activity (which would also stop the recession by giving people enough money for housing). Obama is much more likely to go after that fruit than the Republicans, who instead insisted on life time limits on welfare. Don't tell me that this does not cause abortions unless you want me to laugh at you. Creating a black market for abortions is not the answer - and it would be especially cruel to do so before you fix the economics of child-rearing. Creating abortion states and non-abortion states is also not a viable solution - any more than allowing slave and free states was viable for the life of the nation.
Anonymous | 4/3/2009 - 6:53am
It is simply amazing to read the comments of the Obama apologists and feel their utter contempt for those who would strive to stop the slaughter of the innocent children killed every day by abortion. It is simply a matter of a complete failure to recognizer the evil that is in our midst. Instead, just as many German people in the 1930s and 40s, you whistle past the graveyard and ignore the stench of death around us. Now when the leading example of this moral relativism is invited to a Catholic campus and there is an abjection to his racist anti-Catholic positions, we who oppose him are attacked as the bad guys. Who cares about the 3000 babies killed today by abortion? Collateral damage in the cultural war to make us a peace and justice society? So then lets dialogue with Klansman and white supremacists. Invite them onto our campuses. Perhaps after hearing their views, we can change their minds and convince them of the error of their ways. Oh and lets give them an honorary degree while we are at it (For those of you who did not understand this last paragraph, it was sarcasm).
Anonymous | 4/2/2009 - 6:26pm
Our bishops seem to think the aims, purposes and means of the State and the Church are identical. The State must be concerned with public order. To expect the State to make illegal what the Church sees immoral is to invite the State to bed down with the Church. History amply demonstates the result is always a miscarriage of justuce or the birth of a monster.
Anonymous | 4/2/2009 - 3:09pm
Actually, Jim, the great fallacy that persists, is that ''compelling arguments'' are what changes hearts. What is needed here instead,is ''the Truth,which sets us all free..'' (Jesus Christ) I love my Catholic faith and am called to defend it with my life-if I take it seriously. ''Preach the Gospel,only use words when necessary...'' with Saint Francis, I believe our words and our witness should boldly proclaim the Truth, and in the case of this present debate, requires us to ''lay down our lives for the very least of our brethren..'' President Obama and other ''pro-choicers'' are very much in favor of detroying pre-born children (pro-abortion) or they wouldn't be aggressively advancing legislation to make it an individual's right. But you don't have to take my word for it...we'll all be meeting the Just Judge soon enough! God bless you and have Mercy on those who do not know Him, ''the Way, the Truth and the Life..'' (Jesus Christ, Founder of the Holy Catholic Church)
Anonymous | 4/2/2009 - 12:49am
The ongoing fallacy of so many is to accuse one who is pro-choice of being pro-abortion. So long as this fallacy persists, minds will not be changed nor hearts converted. The attempts to convince others that abortion is wrong simply will be heard and ignored by those who see the Catholic Church as unable to devise compelling arguments and, therefore, resorts to verbal abuse and attempts to codify what they cannot persuade. And you know what? They are right.
Anonymous | 4/1/2009 - 4:14pm
I do not for a moment impugn the motives or good will of those who feel the Church's stand against abortion demands that Catholic institutions not honor or even invite those who support abortion. But I do question whether it is a strategy that is effective in ending or even beginning to reduce the number of abortions. Pro life Catholics clearly lack the power or the votes to outlaw abortion in the U.S. That means there is an urgent need to persuade, to educate, to engage with people of good will who accept abortion and convince them that they are tragically mistaken. A lot of abortion rights advocates think they hold the moral high ground, and simply condemning them has not worked. While some people might be converted by being called baby-killers or proponents of genocide, many more will simply be hardened in heir positions. Let the president speak, but structure his visit so that he hears the respectful witness for life of faculty & students.
Anonymous | 4/1/2009 - 3:04pm
The letter says that the Freedom Of Choice Act is before Congress, but it isn't. The impact of a letter like this is diminished by factual inaccuracies and presumptions, such as that Obama's saying “There is no God who condones taking the life an innocent human being. This much we know.” means something different from what Catholics think it does. People, none of us knows for sure what Obama really thinks about abortion on a personal level, but some things we do know. We know he does not think that pregnancy should be viewed as some kind of natural punishment for sexual indiscretion. We know that he sees no need to have an additional law to protect someone who is born alive even if someone wanted him or her not to be. We know that he does not agree that agencies that receive Federal funding should be muzzled on the topic of abortion if they are treating women who might be considering it. My perception of Obama's reaction to the prolife argument is not that he disagrees with it, but that he does not understand it because so much of it is irrational and disrespectful of the rights and boundaries of others. I imagine that I know how he feels, because no matter how much I have written or said that would be in defense of the unborn or opposed to embryonic stem-cell research, the folks on the prolife side lay into me, over and over, as if they were animals who do not reason, simply because I do not favor making abortion illegal. The letter is kindly worded, but should have acknowledged how nearly impossible it is to dialogue with the prolife side.
Anonymous | 4/1/2009 - 1:32pm
The scandal is caused by the Bishops asking something they have no business asking, largely to defend a strategy (overturning Roe and supporting politicians who promise to do so) which has not been well thought out. It cannot, will not and should not succeed. Catholics are rigtht to mourn the result in Roe - however the legal reasoning is mostly correct. Privacy is stretched just a bit, as many medical procedures can in some way be regulated, however the core finding that states cannot dictate a start of life earlier than that spelled out in the Constitution is absolutely correct. One cannot be condemned for holding such a position if it happens to be true.
Anonymous | 4/1/2009 - 12:33pm
As Cardinal Bernadin and others have said, Life is a seamless garment, and as such, there are many moments that are sacred and call us to respect in holiness. While the US Catholic Bishops have made this request of Catholic institutions, they have also denied those who have made substantial contributions to Life the recognition and respect of the Catholic community for this work, and in so doing they have denied them the support and presence of all of us who struggle to support Life. What would Jesus do?
Anonymous | 4/1/2009 - 11:31am
We, Catholics, who are Catholics adhere to the Policies set forth by our appointed bishops. In 2004, the policy was voted upon by those leading our church NOT to allow individuals to speak or to have honors conferred upon them to promote such evil as abortion. The entire Mystical Body of Christ, those of us who are truly defenders of our faith, the one holy Catholic Apostolic Church, founded by Christ, will stand up and support our appointed bishops and the policies set forth. Under obedience, Fr. John J. Jenkins and his superior, Father Hugh W. Cleary need pray about their need for adherence to the shepherds of our church. Why have policies if some are allow to deviate from the decision of the majority? Always His servant, Kathy Reilly
Anonymous | 4/1/2009 - 11:26am
We, Catholics, who are Catholics adhere to the Policies set forth by our appointed bishops. In 2004, the policy was voted upon by those leading our church NOT to allow individuals to speak or to have honors conferred upon them to promote such evil as abortion. The entire Mystical Body of Christ, those of us who are truly defenders of our faith, the one holy Catholic Apostolic Church, founded by Christ, will stand up and support our appointed bishops and the policies set forth. Under obedience, Fr. Jenkins and Father Clergy need to do the same. Always His servant, Kathy Reilly
Anonymous | 4/1/2009 - 10:55am
Thank you for sharing Bishop Quinn's letter. It does my heart good to hear a voice of reconciliation during this current American Inquisition. I do hope we can find a way to work together to reduce the number actual abortions (as well as address the reasons people seek them), rather than all the huffing and puffing that accomplishes nothing.
Anonymous | 4/1/2009 - 10:36am
Those who oppose the invitation for President Obama to speak at ND have that right, just as I did when I opposed it when President Bush was invited. But changing of minds and hearts comes from reasoned debates, not emotional hammering. I applaud both Bp. Quinn and Fr. Cleary for their reasoned approaches to this issue. I hope that the President will use this opportunity at ND to talk about life issues, and I hope that ND allows the invitation to stand so that such a conversation can occur and also to show that bullying of any kind has no place within Christianity.
Anonymous | 4/1/2009 - 6:47am
One fact is paramount: the US Bishops asked Catholic institutions not to bestow honors upon public figures whose public policy positions are directly contrary to central positions of the Catholic Church. In defiance of the US Bishops, Notre Dame did precisely what they were asked not to do.
Anonymous | 3/31/2009 - 10:43pm
Fr. Cleary hardly sounds like a man who acts only because he is besieged; moreover the categorical reduction of sincere, informed Catholics as an ''army of bullies'' is puerile and knee-jerk reactive. Many Catholics who oppose the invitation to President Obama respect his office, his intellect and his achievements. Those who demonize him pave the way for generalizations such as are here posted. It is facile to dismiss honest, thoughtful opposition as coming from a hysterical mob. Cleary's letter is spot on. It represents the majority of Catholic objectors who have zero to do with the ''M.O'' ascribed to Obama demonizers. Please allow that one may object to something without being benighted.
Anonymous | 3/31/2009 - 7:44pm
Fr. Cleary has obviously been caught in a fire storm of emails, petitions, threats, demands to oust Fr. Jenkins from his post at ND immediately and God knows what else. It's the MO of the well organized, internet savy anti-abortion (Republican) crusaders who are led by a host of "catholic" media outlets and blogs that thrive on stoking 'outrage'. Fr. Cleary is caught in the middle of this "Huge Scandal" and obviously publicized the letter in a (vain) attempt to placate the army of bullies who suddenly desccended on him. Trust me, NOTHING will placate them short of a trip to the stockades for Fr. Jenkins and a loud public ''firing'' of Obama as commencement speaker using descriptives like ''Anti Christ'' or "Agent of Satan". Hold your ground Fr. Jenkins and Fr. Cleary.
Anonymous | 3/31/2009 - 6:59pm
From Bishop Quinn's keyboard to God's and the bishops' ears. As for Father Cleary's comments, perhaps he would benefit from reading Bishop Quinnn's remarks and maybe an evening of discussion over some good Scotch.

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