The National Catholic Review
Barack Obama, Notre Dame and the future of the U.S. church

At critical moments in life it is important to take stock. The demand from many Catholic bishops and lay leaders that the University of Notre Dame rescind its invitation to President Obama to deliver the 2009 commencement address is surely a critical moment in the relationship between the Catholic Church in the United States and the wider American society. Before battle lines harden further on this issue, we should take time-out to ask some hard and penetrating questions. These are some of the questions that occur to me.

1. What if the president is forced to back out of his appearance at Notre Dame either because he withdraws or the university withdraws its invitation? If this happens, will that further the pro-life effort in our country? If the president is forced to withdraw, will that increase cooperation between the Catholic Church and the Administration, or will it create mounting tensions and deepening hostility? If the president is forced to withdraw, will that bring about fewer abortions in the United States? Will his withdrawal under such pressure lead more people to support pro-life efforts?

2. If the president is forced to withdraw, how will it impact the image of the church? Will it enhance the mission of the church? Will it create a more positive attitude toward the Catholic Church?

3. If the president is forced to withdraw, how will that fact be used?  Will it be used to link the church with racist and other extremist elements in our country? Will the banishment of the first African-American president from Catholic university campuses be seen as grossly insensitive to the heritage of racial hatred which has burdened our country for far too long? Will it be used to paint the bishops as supporters of one political party over another? Will this action be seen as proof that the bishops of the United States do not sincerely seek dialogue on major policy questions, but only acquiescence? 

These questions are not negligible. Cardinal James Gibbons, when he received the "Red Hat," in a memorable sermon at the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, strongly praised the tremendous benefit that came to the church in our country because of the separation of church and state. During our more than two hundred years of history, the American bishops have until very recently steadfastly held to the position of making judgments about policy but never judgments about persons in the political arena. One reason for this position was that the episcopate recognized that the greater good of the mission of the church would be served in this way.

Taking account of what serves the greater good of the mission of the church is not opportunism. It is what Catholic tradition calls prudence. The saints have used various words for this cardinal virtue: discretion, discernment, practical wisdom. The great teacher of discernment, St. Ignatius Loyola, points out in this context the serious evil of the temptation of the good. Not everything that seems good is in fact good. Weighing, discernment and discretion are necessary even in things that seem on the face of it to be good. There is always the twin issue of the objective itself and the means of achieving it. One may be good, the other not.

We American Catholics are grateful for the benefits of the separation of church and state. But that separation is not the separation of church and society--the state is not society. The church has a proper role in society and a constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion. It is the right and the grave obligation of bishops to speak about the moral dimensions of public issues.

Even so, we must step back and consider the limitations--prudential, moral and political--on the role of bishops in public issues. In doing so we need to consider the longstanding policy of the American episcopate in this matter. We must weigh very seriously the consequences if the American bishops are seen as the agents of the public embarrassment of the newly elected president by forcing him to withdraw from an appearance at a distinguished Catholic university.  The bishops and the president serve the same citizens of the same country. It is in the interests of both the church and the nation if both work together in civility, honesty and friendship for the common good, even where there are grave divisions, as there are on abortion.

But it does not improve the likelihood of making progress on this and other issues of common concern if we adopt the clenched fist approach. The president has given ample evidence that he is a man of good will, of keen intelligence, desirous of listening and capable of weighing seriously other views. The Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, citing Augustine, points out that “ Certain situations cannot be resolved with asperity or hardness” and goes on to say “(B)ecause his daily pastoral concerns give the Bishop greater scope for personal decision-making, his scope for error is also greater, however good his intentions: this thought should encourage him to remain open to dialog with others, always ready to learn, to seek and accept the advice of others.”

Most Rev. John R. Quinn is archbishop emeritus of San Francisco, Calif.

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David Matenaer | 4/3/2009 - 11:03pm
Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!
Jonathon Summers | 4/3/2009 - 1:40pm
So many comments from people who think you either do as the church says 100% of the time or you're out. That kind of pigheadedness is exactly what drove me away from Catholicism. I was a good Catholic but I take issue with just a very few of the church's stances. I didn't put up a fuss but on those issues I lived by my heart. Too many people hollering way too loudly (like some posting here) made me throw up my hands in frustration and find another church. One where love and compassion are more the focus that rules and judgment. So you loud Catholics out there, pat yourself on the back for all your piousness but don't be surprised when the pews get empty.
Sarah | 4/3/2009 - 9:28am
I disagree with all those who assume that the original invitation was a "stupid mistake." How do we know that Fr. Jenkins purpose was not to reach out to our president in the hopes of changing his views on these issues that we hold so dear? This situation reminds me of Jesus being criticized for spending time with prostitutes and tax collectors. How else can we spread the Word if we don't talk to people who see things differently than we do?
William Rogers | 4/2/2009 - 11:11pm
While others have made the same point, I keep thinking that most are obsessed with abortion and stem cell issues. What about the fact that many pro death penalty polticians speak at Catholic institutions? What about the fact that 90% or more of American Catholics support the use of birth control? What about all the politicians that have committed adultery, etc., etc.? Why do we allow them access to our church and institutions? George W. Bush invaded Iraq, against the arguments of Pope John Paul II and many bishops, but that seemed ok to many Catholics. Some mention slavery as an analogy, but the Catholic church condoned slavery for centuries, so I would argue the Church may be infallible, but the men who run it are not. I am a regularly practicing, faithful Catholic, but I will not give up my rights an American or a human being and have others tell me what to do or think. I have met many priests, nuns and even bishops in my life, and they are manifestly human too, and the current group are succeeding where generations of persecution have failed--they will split the Church in two, and it makes me so sad.
M.Francis | 4/2/2009 - 9:59pm
President Obama could not care less whether any of the mediocre Catholic Colleges had invited him or not. Few of the "clenched fist" crowd spouting "venom" in these columns have given any thought to the fact that the University of Notre Dame is academically of a lower ranking than the TWO institutions that President Obama has degrees from - Harvard and Columbia. Until our Catholic colleges can stop giving excuses and match or excel Harvard and Columbia in academic excellence (NOT Football only) it is time to stop the bickering among all our bishops too.
Robert Blase | 4/2/2009 - 5:23pm
I requested a post of correction. I erroneously referred to Joe Murray when I should have said Teresa Collett. I ask you to please post this.
John | 4/2/2009 - 3:11pm
His excellency avoided the real issue, which the other Bishops addressed. That is, he never should have been invited to begin with, and that the invitation itself violated the Bishop's directive.
RMW | 4/2/2009 - 2:32pm
I agree with WFM above regarding when does life become less precious?? When it is safely out of the womb and living in poverty and destitution? When mother and child are forced to live on welfare? We don't see too many pro-lifers rallying around when the babies saved from abortion are hungry, homeless, beaten, forgotten. Until the Cardinals and Bishops, and yes, the Holy Father empty their bank accounts and sell their priceless artwork, and begin living like Mother Theresa in the midst of the poorest of the poor, their "pro-life" rantings ring hollow. And why is there not the same outrage about the death penalty and politicians who support it? I can think of a few; George W. Bush comes to mind.
Sean | 4/2/2009 - 1:48pm
The Archbishop is a cowardly relic who continues to fold at the slightest breeze. It is the Church's fidelity to the Word of God he should be concerned with not the "relationship" wth the current administration or its leader. Alas, the Archbishop long ago made his accommadation with the world. Pathetic.
Robert C. Blase | 4/2/2009 - 1:40pm
In my recent post, I referenced Joe Murray in error when obviously it was the commentary of Teresa Collett I was referring to.
Robert C. Blase | 4/2/2009 - 1:09pm
As it was Joe Murray's commentary that I first read, there is no need to elaborate on what he and others have so clearly expressed in a very measured and objective manner. Bishop Quinn's writing is very disturbing and only contributes to the demoralizing of a loyal Catholic base already under attack in our society. He seems to suffer from the same mindset that befalls Fr. Jenkins, Bernard Law and many other Catholic officials: the importance of image and acceptance by the world as opposed to a courageous defense of moral principle in the face of insult and rejection. Matthew 16, 21-23 speaks accurately to this. We cannot disinvite, but we can protest with vigor and civility, and begin a house cleaning within UND and other "Catholic" institutions.
Frank | 4/2/2009 - 1:08pm
This entire episode highlights the perils of inviting politicians to accept honors or in accepting funding from political entities. It is impossible to separate the man from his principles or from his actions. In honoring the man the principles and actions are also honored. In accepting funding from political entities there will also be strings attached. The only way for the pastoral brockers to be affective is if they keep a respectable distance from the politicians and the political entities they inhabit.
Laura A. | 4/2/2009 - 1:01pm
Respectfully: I believe the church's mission and that of believers in Christ is to seek God's will and not the popular or politically expediency of the moment. The question is not whether we further the pro-life, or church's political agenda but that the church and bishops as God's representatives be true to the one and only authority they haved vowed to obey and to lay down our lives for... St. Thomas Becket did so....and it cost him is life.... Laura A.
Lorraine | 4/2/2009 - 1:00pm
With all due respect Reverend, this visit is not about dialogue again and again it is not about dialogue but award! You seem to be more concerned with the churches image not the churches foundation. You are wrong on this issue! Lorraine
David Cannon | 4/2/2009 - 12:48pm
Yes, "All life if precious. Life begins at conception" My question to so many pro-life people is; between life begining at conception and ending at death, where and when does life stop being precious? There is a lot more to be done to protect the dignity and preciousness of life than just being pro-choice. I just don't see the pro-life community making much noise, let alone a willingness to sacrafice about these other pro-life issues.
WFM | 4/2/2009 - 12:05pm
So much of the commentary on the Archbishop's opinion seems to forget the fundamental mission of any university, Catholic or otherwise; provision of a forum for open discussion and recognitiion of achievement within a discipline. If our position regarding abortion and related "pro-life" issues is going to be heard by thinking persons, can we survive excluding the other side from the dialogue? If we are rationally correct, will we not prevail in these arguments? Do we want to offer our hospitality to persons who differ with us, recognize them for their achievements, try to bring them around by inclusion and reasonable behavior? Christ did His convincing by example and parable, almost never confrontation or exclusion. His death was, at last, an invitation to sinners everywhere to change their point of view. He initiated that dialogue and it goes on to this day: everyone is invited.
ld | 4/2/2009 - 11:16am
A Critical Moment You forget the most critical question. Before we get to that though. We have to ask ourselves if the Church is willing to comprise it stance on abortion. It is my understanding that it is not. If that is true the real question would be. Does having the most radical pro abortion politician in the history of this country speak at the most well known Catholic university in this country leave the impression that the church is open to discussion about abortion issues? Just asking him to speak smells of tolerance for his point of view. This impression could easily be left with those who don't really have an understanding of how rigid the Church's stance is on abortion. Do you really want to leave this impression in order to be seen a politically correct. I won't be reading any responses to this because I don't care what anyone else thinks about this. If one believes life begins at conception then there is no tolerance for abortion and words against it don't mean anything unless actions follow. The action of having the president speak at any catholic university could indicate tolerance. No good can come of it. On the other hand if you don't think life begins at conception I can't help you and can't say anything that will make you believe it does. If you truly believe that a fetus is a lump of nothing that can be discarded I can accept that and leave you alone. No since in arguing about it. I agree that this is a critical moment. Does the Church really stand for what it believes in or not?
mark | 4/2/2009 - 10:49am
If Fr. Jenkins had listened to Pope Benedict last April (during the address to the catholic college presidents) we wouldn't have this mess now. In Jn ch 8 Christ is called a bastard, he responds by calling his accusers sons of the devil. If Christ hadn't stood firm against the authorities there wouldn't of been a crucifixion. I respectfully echo the words originally spoken to St.Peter taken from Mt.16:23 "get behind me satan". Clenched fists its about time!
Joseph N. Sestito | 4/2/2009 - 10:40am
The bishops seem not to understand that to seek to identify the purpose of the State with the purpose of the Church is to invite the State to bed down with the Church. History amply demonstrates this always results either in a miscarriage of justice or the birth of a monster.
Tom | 4/2/2009 - 10:36am
To Michael Rangitsch - Christ did eat with the sinners & prostitutes. However, he did not hold them up as examples and confer honors upon them for their sinful actions. Rather, he told them to "go and sin no more". Demonstrating that the Church has a distrinct moral position and is willing to stand on it will likely draw more people than it offends.
Tom | 4/2/2009 - 10:30am
Elizabeth - I must disagree with your interpretation of Pres. Obama's answer to Rick Warren. Specifically, when Warren asked Obama when basic human rights begin and Obama brushed off the answer with "That's above my pay grade." As for the difference between "pro-choice" and "pro-abortion" there is none. Life begins at conception and abortion is the deliberate, premeditating taking of that life. To be "pro-choice" is to be "pro-abortion". The very "choice" at issue here is a gravely immoral, evil act. To say that someone should have a "right" to take the life of another human being is a ligitimate choice for anyone is asinine. Pres. Obama is the most radically pro-abortion president this country has ever seen. He's gone so far as to fight against the Born Alive Act that sought to protect babies that survived their abortions. Notre Dame should be ashamed of itself, but then again it has only been Catholic in name only for decades. We only need to look at mainline Protestant denominations and their ever dwindling numbers to see what good comes about from vacilating on moral issues. Removing the invitation to confer an honorary title for Obama would send a strong signal to the world that we abide by a higher moral calling.
John Langenfeld | 4/2/2009 - 9:52am
The bishop’s point that rescinding the invitation would be a public relations nightmare for the church is well made, however I believe it misses a larger point. The question is should President Obama have been given the high honor of speaking the graduating class? I agree that there should be diverse opinions on campus. I do not believe that Mr. Obama should be barred from speaking at Notre Dame, but why commencement? Was no other forum available? What do we Catholics stand for if not the value of human life? Do we mean what we say or is it just talk?
Robert | 4/2/2009 - 8:52am
I agree, in part, with the archbishop's comments above in that disinviting President Obama would probably not serve the overall good in this situation. I do not agree with the archbishop's arguements, however. We believe in the Catholic church's teachings or we don't - and we stand up for those beliefs. I would accept Obama speaking at ND, since he has already been invited and that basically ND is inviting the "president" to speak - as is done all over the country at many different universities. We are inviting and/or honoring the "office" or "position". The presentation of an honorary doctor of laws degree, however, honors the man, not the office. This is absolutely wrong and this should not take place. If ND is going to rescind anything (at this time), this is what needs to be rescinded.
Frank Cothran | 4/2/2009 - 8:16am
The bishop rationalizes this into doing nothing so as to save face for both parties. He also gets lost in pondering what great thinkers have penned. I don't suppose he would care to muse on what God thinks. Here's an idea: Proverbs 6:1-5 "My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor. Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler." The position the "thinkers" at Notre Dame have put the church in has much bigger implications than saving face.
j foster | 4/2/2009 - 6:52am
Father Jenkins says his Prayers “Hail Mary…Full of Grace” I HAD to lighten up this place. We need to be a more like… Duke No sin , no dogma, no rebuke… The occasional… sex workers show… We call it…“dialogue, you know. “The Lord is with thee”…heh!, congratulations But OBAMA accepted MY invitation. The Messiah is coming..oops, no, not your Son! The Newly Elected Perfect One. We’re swooning that he’ll come to see us! “Blah..Blah..Fruit of thy Womb Jesus.” “Holy Mary..Mother of God!” Silence each stupid whining clod. Can’t they see the stupendous HONOR? Why all this Pro-life noise and bother? That baby retard..born alive… Did You really mean him to survive? “Pray for us Sinners”..but cut some slack… We want the pews and coffers packed. Don’t burden them with moral choices Or upset them with those preachy voices. That tiny being in the sonogram If…. inconvenient..suck, crush, and slam. “Hail Mary…Mother of God…” Please don’t complicate my job. I’m making Notre Dame so cool. The hippest Catholic “inclusive” school. Obama! Obama! He deigns to receive us! And, frankly, his speeches are more moving than Jesus’… Hmmm-m…Maybe Obama could be… sculpted in brass And kept on the altar…for when we say Mass.
larry | 4/2/2009 - 6:49am
I have read the article and it can be countered with a simple argument. People who call themselves Christians should always do what is right in the eyes of God. Not caring what the secular world thinks, but caring what God thinks.
Jack Fremeau, ND Class of 1971 | 4/2/2009 - 1:59am
Perhaps Fr Jenkins should have considered the down side expressed by Bishop Quinn before making the invitation.
mark | 4/2/2009 - 1:29am
Perhaps the reason the author is the ex archbishop of San Francisco is due to the fact that he is willing to call evil by another name. An unborn child is a human being. The President of the United States advocates killing unborn human beings by virtue of the policies that he has instituted for our country within the last 60 days. A Catholic University has decided to honor him thus trying to give him the cover of the church to cloak this evil. Now Archbishop Quinn tries to add what's left of his dignity to the President and this shameful act of Notre Dame. All the obfuscation in the world will not make this outrageous act other than what it is.
Ag | 4/2/2009 - 1:21am
The question of the offering of this invitation is completely seperate and null at this point, as it has already been offered. What do you now, do you let your outrage take over and refuse to let him speak or do you allow this perceived injustice to pass? Already all of this discussion is reactionary, which illustrates that most of those taking part in it have neglected to take any initiative on this matter, remember hindsight is 20/20? As yourself this, since I see it commercialized everywhere, WWJD? For those of you who support this concept of what would Jesus would do while pushing to keep Obama from speaking are a bunch of hypocrites that drive people from organize religion, please keep to yourselves, let him speak and be over with it without causing a huge uproar and subsequent media backlash, it's not helping your cause.
Javier Ortiz | 4/2/2009 - 1:20am
With due respect, Archbishop Quinn is responsible of misleading the poor informed members of the Church in San Francisco, no wonder Nancy Pelosi claims to be Catholic. Remember that Jesus warned us about the false prophets. "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.” Matt. 23:13
novak | 4/2/2009 - 1:01am
In all due respect,would it not be more of an act of sacrificial love offered to the unborn child ripped from its mothers womb into the garbage if we stood firm. As Pope John Paul did against the evil, yes communism is evil. Why is it when a Catholic says no we are the ones that are clenched fist. Fr,. You cannot be both Catholic and Pro choice. Leviticus 18 "Thou shall not stand by when thy neighbors life is in danger. We the lay are tired of the lukewarm, we are tired of others forcing us into what we should believe ,you take away conscience laws for a fare state takeover . Is this what you mean by separation of state and church.
Bob | 4/2/2009 - 12:30am
Well I would say that this is why we have pro-choice is because the church is not taking a hard stand in teaching to the people what it stands for. The churchs in America are wimps going with the politically correct way of thinking. It has to walk on eggshells so that it can keep the people and money coming in. As you can see I am no writer but I do believe in the Catholic church like it used to be. It needs to stand up and teach what it means. It is becoming too politically correct in trying not to offend anyone. By inviting Obama you are telling the Catholic people that it is okay to support Obama and his way of thinking, which of course is that abortion is okay. No Catholic should have ever vote in support of Obama because of his history in voting for abortion. And the church should have been standing on that fact, and telling the people not to support him because of it. The church needs to get involed in poltics much more and tell the people about the ones that make choices against God's teachings. The church needs to watch the choices that Catholics in politics make, and if is against the teaching of God, they should be excomunicated. There are two or three in Congress now that need to have it done to them.
teresa fredericks | 4/2/2009 - 12:02am
Archbishop Quinn makes a good politician, but a lousy shepherd. He fails to understand that Obama has a one tract pro-baby killing mind. Sure Obama has picked "Catholics" for his team. But only if they are pro-baby killing ones. Like the Black Biretta said"We should offer hospitality to Obama if he visits, but we should not give him an hononary degree, for this implies that we agree with his moral code,which we do not."
Chris Veneklase | 4/2/2009 - 12:02am
"If the president is forced... If... If... Why not ask the simpler question: What is the right thing to do? Clearly, the leaders of the American Church spoke on behalf of the church when they unanimously issued guidelines that no Catholic University should honor someone who gravely opposes Catholic teaching, which President Obama clearly does. Therefore, Notre Dame clearly is in opposition with the bishops themselves, yet now we are to make an argument on how dissidence and disobedience will aid the church in America? The church in America will be strong and united when it stands strong in defense of Jesus Christ and His teaching, evangelizing through love and witness as the early Christians did. They shed their blood rather than give in to the political forces of their time. I wonder where the church would be now had they asked all the questions in this article and decided that for the good of the church, they should try to walk hand in hand with Nero.
Thomas Joyce | 4/1/2009 - 11:44pm
Ever since 'Rowe v Wade' I believe American society's respect for life, in general, has been greatly diminished. The American Catholic Bishop's mollycoddling of so called 'Catholic' politicians like Pelosi, Kerry, Kennedy, etc. has greatly diminished the unequivocal teaching of the Church concerning life. This lack of leadership confuses Catholics and fellow Christians. I attended a Notre Dame prep school in Illinois and received an excellent education from the Holy Cross Fathers of Notre Dame. I then attended Marquette University and learned the true strength of Catholic teaching from the Jesuits. Shame on Notre Dame Univ. I totally agree with Father Joseph SJ, and Jim the Lutheran.
JohnRDC | 4/1/2009 - 11:31pm
The same rationalizations were used by Lutheran and Catholic clerics in Germany after 1932. As Hitler increased pressure on the churches to be "patriotic" and support the Fuhrer, particularly the persecution and murder of the Jews, most of the clerics succumbed to the pressure and gave either explicit or tacit support for the Nazi party. Not wanting to create a furor, you know. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life was lived after 1932 in opposition to the Reich and to the waffling churchmen. He was part of the "confessing" church, whose male members, when discovered, were drafted and sent to the front lines to serve until they were killed. Bonhoeffer was spared because of his connections, and this enabled him to participate in plotting against Hitler's life, activities which cost him his own. There is only one direction that the Church, if it follows Bishop Quinn's effortful formulation, is headed, and that is in a downward sickening spiral, acquiescing in blatant evil for the sake of civic comity.
moses | 4/1/2009 - 10:59pm
It was just recently when the Pope himself was recorded chastising Nancy Pelosi for her views on abortion. The serious matter warrants standing by your beliefs. What if ... what if... shouldn't even be considered. If the Catholic church doesn't stand fast to their values right now, as they always have, I fear that is what will really make them look weak. Egads, it's just sad that a Bishop should have a problem standing by 'his' guy, who is "God"!
Catherine | 4/1/2009 - 9:46pm
"The president has given ample evidence that he is a man of good will, of keen intelligence, desirous of listening and capable of weighing seriously other views." Can this be said of the same man who pledged to Planned Parenthood that his first act as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act?
WSBowles | 4/1/2009 - 9:24pm
All I can say is thank God this archbishop is retired. It has been thinking like his that has Catholics confused and conflicted about an issue that is completely against Church teaching, and that is so blatantly and purely evil. And, for this publication to give him a forum promotes the absolute anti-Catholic, anti-Christian and anti-religion movement by the Liberal Left in this country. This idea that we have to work for the "common good" is secularist code meaning that Catholics have to compromise our beliefs. We Catholics have sat back too long and are now under full frontal attack to force us to give in to this evil. Don't do it.
Peter Murphy | 4/1/2009 - 8:54pm
Archbishop Quinn's essay is spot on. This is not the time to clench fists and scream, but rather to engage in intellectual dialogue. Both the University of Notre Dame and President Obama have to be fully open and honest for any such dialogue to be effective. The stage has been set and now the players have to provide the discourse. The dialogue should begin with a policy statement by the University of Notre Dame that delineates Catholic views on abortion, stem-cell research, euthanasia and other pro-life issues. After that, the President of ND should address these issues in his introduction of President Obama when the university confers the honorary degree. How President Obama responds to the invitation for open and honest dialogue of pro-life issues will determine the depth of President Obama's superficial commitment to decrease the incidence of abortions in the United States and worldwide. Notre Dame has the opportunity to control the debate. Let's hope and pray that Notre Dame does so with a Catholic perspective and with the discernment and grace of God.
Minni Clark | 4/1/2009 - 8:34pm
It's too late to rescind the invitation now. But try this ... re-read Bishop Quinn's editorial ... but every time you see the words "the president", replace them with "Hitler". Then re-answer the questions. Then ask what Bishop Quinn failed to ask: why did Notre Dame offer the inviation in the first place? Fifty million dead babies since 1972 ... that's a lot of "dialogue".
Jonathon Summers | 4/1/2009 - 8:06pm
Michael Talbot, what makes you think the Church is trying to be politically correct? And why do you insist on seeing anyone with views or ideas differing from yours a "rival."? THAT kind of thinking is just another part of the problem. I'm getting tired of smug people with holier than thou attitudes. You have no idea what's in the hearts of others because you're not listening! Maybe if you'd stop for just a second and listen, if you'd even consider for a moment that your "rivals" might not be your rivals after all. Nobody wants there to be more abortions. Nobody. If you truly want to make a difference on abortion, then think about what will have an impact. Screaming at your "rivals" and settling for nothing other than squelching their view IS NOT WORKING. Know what I think? I think your self-righteousness has blinded your common sense.
Jonathon Summers | 4/1/2009 - 7:44pm
nuanain wrote: "What would people think of the Church, Quinn asks, if ND rescinded its offer of an honorary degree? They might well think that it was a church with a degree of moral conviction." The ones who would think that already do, so what's the point? Everyone else will think ND is a heavy-handed, high and mighty, closed-door, judgmental institution that's more interested in martyrdom than advancement or inclusion. I'm a Catholic and this whole hullaballo really bugs me. The Church is isolating itself more and more and because I see a bigger world around me I feel I'm being pushed out. "Chant the party line or get out!" It's disturbing. Now watch, I'll probably get 20 zealous replies denigrating my faith because I don't see things their way. Sad that I've come to expect that from my own fellow Catholics!
Altosh | 4/1/2009 - 7:40pm
It is precisely Archbishop Quinn's approach to politics (YES, politics) that caused so many to avert their eyes of the crimes being committed by Hitler and the NAZIs against the Jews. Archbishop Quinn's position is an embarrasment to every American Catholic.
Jim | 4/1/2009 - 7:37pm
Fire and brimstone though a method of preaching will not win over the hearts of our country. Christ himself sat with sinners and washed their feet. Through love, charity, and justice we can change the world. If only hate fills your mouth and rolls off your tongue then pray instead and leave the arguments at the door.
Jonathon Summers | 4/1/2009 - 7:34pm
Dale Price, you wrote, "The respectful rhetoric (and that is all it has been--elegant words) is followed by the "clenched fist of fellowship" by the way he acts." Baloney. Spoken, truly, like someone whose definition of working together is "do it my way or else you're wrong." Your rhetoric is no better than your perceived notion of his, it's just from the other side. I'm not naive. The truth is: the president is pro-choice. He will make policy accordingly. That doesn't mean he won't work with pro-lifers, but if working together means he must do it your way then no he will not be "working with" you. If people like you insist on keeping this issue on a black and white level of "my way or your way", we will never progress from where we have been languishing for 37 years. And YOU can take responsibility for that. On the other hand if anyone interested in reducing the number of abortions, whether they be pro-life or pro-choice, wants to step up and discuss it like adults working on the same team--the human team--we might get something done. I can't say this loud enough: he who does not comprehend that pro-choice advocates would also be happy to see reduced abortion, well those people are part of the problem. We ALL want fewer abortions. Some of us advocate achieving it through compassion, education, and support. Others advocate achieving it via big-government forced regulation. Which are you advocating?
Altosh | 4/1/2009 - 7:17pm
It is precisely Archbishop Quinn's approach to politics (YES, politics) that caused so many to avert their eyes of the crimes being committed by Hitler and the NAZIs against the Jews. Archbishop Quinn's position is an embarrasment to every American Catholic.
Michael Rangitsch | 4/1/2009 - 6:37pm
Dis-inviting President Obama is probably a bad idea, but there is really no down side to it. What can he do that he hasn't already done? Disinviting the president of Notre Dame (permanently) is probably a good idea. What really must happen is that the speaker before and after him are selected to present the Catholic view of the Right to Life, the only view a civilized, caring person can have. It would be wonderful if the entire crowd stood as Obama started to speak and turned their backs (or put on ear muffs), or maybe just walks out.
Mary Fitzgerald | 4/1/2009 - 6:34pm
That advice should have been given Fr. Jenkins before he created a situation where a Catholic University decided to confer an honorary degree on a President whose early agenda pulled much of the rug out from under those American who follow the Church's teaching on the sanctity of human life. I agree this is a bad position that we are in and I wish Fr Jenkins had not put us in it. But it seems to me that the Church owes its people action consistent with its teaching and I can't see that Notre Dame is fulfilling its primary mission. My recollection is that the judges in the Old Testament and certain saints in the New were charged with reminding the hierarchy and powerful secular authority that there are moral values that are sacrosanct. Sometimes the cost of holding to those values is high. I suggest the President be welcomed as the commencement speaker since his office and the fact that he achieved it merits recognition and honor but I cannot see conferring an honorary degree as appropriate in these circumstances.
Mary Fitzgerald | 4/1/2009 - 6:33pm
That advice should have been given Fr. Jenkins before he created a situation where a Catholic University decided to confer an honorary degree on a President whose early agenda pulled much of the rug out from under those American who follow the Church's teaching on the sanctity of human life. I agree this is a bad position that we are in and I wish Fr Jenkins had not put us in it. But it seems to me that the Church owes its people action consistent with its teaching and I can't see that Notre Dame is fulfilling its primary mission. My recollection is that the judges in the Old Testament and certain saints in the New were charged with reminding the hierarchy and powerful secular authority that there are moral values that are sacrosanct. Sometimes the cost of holding to those values is high. I suggest the President be welcomed as the commencement speaker since his office and the fact that he achieved it merits recognition and honor but I cannot see conferring an honorary degree as appropriate in these circumstances.


Recently by John R. Quinn

Closer to Communion (November 12, 2014)
Do Not Despair (May 3, 2010)
Notre Dame Revisited (August 31, 2009)
The Public Duty Of Bishops (August 31, 2009)
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