Formerly Catholic?

The bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, Fabian W. Bruskewitz, weighed in last week on the controversy over the University of Notre Dame inviting the President to speak at this year’s commencement ceremony.  Why is he writing?  Because Fr. Jenkins, CSC, the president of Notre Dame, has "some sort of past connection with the state of Nebraska."  Here is the full text of the bishop’s letter (published online, natch, by the Cardinal Newman Society), in which the bishop of Lincoln declares Notre Dame "formerly Catholic."

Jim Keane, SJ

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The Reverend John Jenkins, C.S.C

President, University of Notre Dame

400 Main Building

Notre Dame, IN 46556

 

Reverend and dear Father Jenkins,

 

Permit me to add my name as well to the long list of Bishops of the Catholic Church who are utterly appalled at your dedication to immorality and wrong-doing represented by your support for the obscenity called “The Vagina Monologues” and your absolute indifference to the murderous abortion program and beliefs of this President of the United States.  The fact that you have some sort of past connection with the State of Nebraska makes it all the more painful that the Catholic people here have to see your betrayal of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

 

I can assure you of my prayers for your conversion, and for the conversion of your formerly Catholic University.  I am


Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus,

The Most Reverend Fabian W. Bruskewitz

Bishop of Lincoln

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9 years ago
There sure is a great divide among Catholic Americans on this issue. I am on the side of those who think that ND made a big mistake, and has hurt the church in America. Here is the crux: Obama has stepped over a line on two issues in the pro-life/pro-choice debate. One, he believes that if a baby survives an abortion it should be left to die. Two, he believes that if you are a doctor or nurse, and think abortion is murder, you should not be allowed to excuse your self from assisting based on conscience. Our side's view is that these opinions represent depravity, not a difference in opinion about how the government should be run. To give such a person a place of honor at a Catholic insitution is a disgrace. Those of us on this side of the question cannot fathom how a practicing Catholic can see it any other way.
9 years ago
I once heard of a bishop in Ireland who was described as "episcopating against the wind." Might this be an apt description of Bishop B.?
9 years ago
I fail to see how anyone who can't appreciate the beauty of the Vagina Monologues in their own context should have any standing to teach about human sexuality or sexual morality. This is why most married Catholics disregard Humanae Vitae as irrelavant to them. Unless you regard sexuality as a gift from God, don't try to teach others about it. More importantly, there is a difference between the President of Notre Dame endorsing the Vagina Monologues, or the President of the United States, and allowing either to appear on the campus (and giving due honor to the commencement speaker with the customary degree). It is actually the same difference as having a society that does not ban abortion and a pro-abortion society. A pro-abortion society would endorse abortion as a birth control option, which would be immoral and which Catholics would fight. A society that does not ban abortion is an entirely different matter - as is a campus that allows its facilities to be used for a presentation of the Vagina Monologues is different than the President of the University auditioning for and acting in a speaking role or serving on the set crew. I don't blame the Bishop entirely for his attitude on this subject - he has been ill advised by the Pro-Life Office of the USCCB and its leadership. They should know better and would benefit by listening to those that they disagree with more and speaking less.
9 years ago
Anyone excoriated by the Fabulous Fabian MUST be doing something right!
9 years ago
Kevin: You will be happy to know that Bishop Bruskewitz was one of the few American bishops to drive pervert priests out of the priesthood prior to the clerical sexual abuse crisis of 2001 (better said, "the publicizing of clerical sexual abuse"). He didn't need the harsh spotlight of the media and lawyers to be impelled to act. Michael Binder: "the beauty of the Vagina Monologues in their own context" ?? Whatever else the VM is as a work of act, it is not "beautiful" outside of Hell.
9 years ago
I do not understand how the American Catholic Church has shifted so far to the radical fundamentalist position. I used to admire Catholicity for its open-mindedness and fairness; I understand how some things Catholic universities have chosen to do aesthetically and perhaps theologically have upset people (I don't like them either), but the sort of screed and blast coming from bishops like the one quoted above cause me to think that I was simply wrong about the Church. The Inquisition still lives, apparently.
9 years ago
Bishop Bruskewitz letter provides ample support for Notre Dame's position if any were neede. Willis Jensen
9 years ago
The foregoing comments from Mr.Gleason are uncalled for and should have never been printed.I myself am glad I did not attend Notre Dame and I applaud the Bishop for his letter.
9 years ago
Notre Dame hosted George Bush in 2001, even though Mr. Bush approved over 170 executions, expressly contrary to Catholic teaching expressed in Pope John Paul II's "The Gospel of Human Life." And Mr. Bush had already publicly embraced political policies very hostile to the most poor. No complaints from the bishops then. Bishop Bruskewitz is a new creature in the American Catholic Church, something I never thought possible in Catholicism. He is a Republican fundmentalist. Sadly, our American Catholic hierarchy is becoming the Republican Party at Prayer. Catholic bishops have to understand that we live in a democracy. I am glad God will judge me and not an apparently infallible cleric from Nebaska. God is more merciful. I am embarrassed because, more and more, we have all of these Father Coughlins running around.
9 years ago
Love of the Faith can not be true when accompanied by a lack of love. The troubling impression is that the easy passion for guarding the faith and bashing the infidel (now seen in so much Catholic e-conversation) is rarely matched by passion for the message and mandate to love one another that the Founder of the Faith cherished infinitely more than the law. Engagement and invitation will win more hearts and minds than the rage and condemnation that seems so gratifying to the loud.
9 years ago
The comments by Mark F. and LRommel were perfect. The un-Christian, uncharitable comments by several bishops do smack of grandstanding. The problem is that the Wanderer, Cardinal Newman Society element those comments are intended to please have an insatiable appetite for Limbaughesque soundbites. One Limbaugh (and one Bob Jones University) are enough.
9 years ago
My mother used to observe that ''it's not what you say; it's how you say it.'' Quite apart from any moral rectitude in the position of the bishop, the snide tone of the letter is itself appalling. One must have a very high opinion of oneself to write in that manner and sign the name of Christ.
9 years ago
The Bishop's letter seems an awfully harsh public rebuke of a brother priest. I wonder if the Bishop, or others who have condemned Notre Dame's President, have ever written so harsh a letter to a priest who molested children, or to a bishop who knowingly reassigned a such priest to another parish without notifying the parishioners. And I do not think I am creating a false equivalence between pedophilia and abortion. Father Jenkins has not promoted abortion, nor helped anyone procure an abortion. He has not spoken in favor of the continued legalization of abortion. He has tried to engage in dialogue the president of a country where the majority of citizens believe that at least some abortions are ethical and should be legal. If Catholics are to effect any change in our laws and the culture that underlies those law, we need to do more than thunder condemnations from a Catholic fortress. We need to persuade and convert--and that requires engagement.
9 years ago
It is fatuous to compare the murder of an unborn child with the execution of a violent and vicious criminal. While the Church now disapproves of capital punishment in most cases, this is a highly circumstantial judgment, and is most certainly a change from its teachings and practices in the past. ( The Papal States were executing people in the 19th century.) If people like Jim Keane, SJ and some of those who post here think that abortion is really not such a bad thing, they would be more honest if they came out and said so. And talking about Obama's visit to Notre Dame as an opportunity for dialog, I certainly would like to learn more about that. Is he meeting with the Theology professors to discuss abortion, or with pro-life students? Unless he is doing so, the talk of dialog is misleading and mendacious.
9 years ago
When this "dialog" takes place, I do hope that Father Jenkins or one of the others asks Obama about his intended removal of the "conscience clause", which is already being discussed as a means of forcing Catholic doctors and hospitals to perform abortions. Try reading some of the online discussions on this, in which liberals seriously maintain that doctors who will not provide abortion "services" should give up the practice of medicine.
9 years ago
'It is fatuous to compare the murder of an unborn child with the execution of a violent and vicious criminal.' How about the execution of a death sentence on person who did not commit the crime? Whose conviction was because of bias or negligence? How is this different? And it happens, frequently. Bad analogy. As for Bruskewitz, his predictable letter, in both tone and content, will have no effect.
9 years ago
Fr. Michael, I doubt either of us has attended and given the description of them it is frankly neither of our place to say. Men are not the target audience - unless they need to say something. They are not the Vagina Dialogues, they are monologues. It might be good for you to listen, however given your promise of celibacy you should not be talking to them. Other than that, your thoughts on the VM show why I don't believe that celibates should be teaching about either sexualtiy or sexual morality. Ad hominum, yes. True, also yes. If your relevance is in question, your teaching authority is gone from a very practical standpoint. Perhaps you should rent the tape.
9 years ago
Joe, your comment would be relevant if abortion were legalized as part of the legislative process. This is only true in New York and California and a handful of states. Even then, an argument can be made that permitting abortion is not the same thing as procuring abortions. In fact, it is a rather good argument that I have not seen a rational answer to besides an appeal to authority or the statement "Is so!"
9 years ago
Once a fixed idea of duty gets inside a narrow mind, it can never get out. Blessed are those from whom you expect nothing: you shall not be disappointed. "Tis the time's plague when madmen lead the blind." W. F. Shakespeare. "You can safely assume you have created God in your own image if God hates the same people you do." Anne Lamott
9 years ago
Penelope, abortion is manlaughter since women who have abortion rarely acknowledge the moral existence of the child. The nature of the act does not necessarily lend itself to its solution. In 75% of cases, economic means would be much more effective than throwing around words like murder and manslaughter. Tom F., the conscience clause was enacted in the waning days of the Bush Administration. The proposed repeal does not touch the existing laws which have protected and will continue to protect conscientious objectors to abortion. This whole issue is a sad publicity stunt. Gabriel, the lesbian rape of an adolescent girl is a bit icky - as are the child murders in Medea. That does not diminish the value of either. Sometimes art has to make you squirm to make you think.
9 years ago
Michael, you might want to read the comments at http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/conscience-vs-conscience/?scp=1&sq=conscience%20clause&st=cse Clearly, there are a great many liberals who believe that doctors and nurses should NOT have the freedom to refuse to perform abortions, and are prepared to drive them out of their professions if they refuse. If the conscience clause only restates existing rights, then why are abortion zealots planning to rescind it? I hope Obama is questioned about this at the "dialog" that we are told will take place at NotreDame. I do not believe enacting this clause was a publicity stunt. I believe it was intended to protect a right that was about to be threatened by a new administration clearly opposed to any constraints on abortion.
9 years ago
It's so sad to read the words of a pastor and not perceive one ounce of pastoral love and concern.
9 years ago
If only more bishops had the courage and love of the faith as Bishop Bruskewitz does.....
9 years ago
There are some crucial flaws to those arguments which seek to excuse or minimize or defend the invitation extended by Notre Dame to the President. These flaws are, in my opinion, emblematic of the fractured nature of the Church today. These flaws fall into the tu quoque category. Example: ''Notre Dame should not be honoring President Smith, because he supports X.'' ''Oh, yeah? Well, it honored President Jones, and he supported Y.'' And thereby X and Y gain an equivalency which isn't necessarily there. In this case, capital punishment and abortion. Which are not the same. Capital punishment is not always wrong. It may be NEARLY, ALMOST always wrong, etc., but NOT always wrong. Abortion is ''malum in se'' and capital punishment is not. Support for capital punishment in certain circumstances, where one sincerely believes only an exemplary punishment will suffice and a bloodless one will not, is a prudential judgment. This is not the case with abortion, which is always evil in every single circumstance and nothing can mitigate this fact. Further along the spectrum of prudential judgments are opinions on policies and their effects on certain groups of people. To accuse of hostility to the poor, one must clearly demonstrate ill-will and a deleterious effect attributable to the policy in question. If Smith believes the capital gains tax should be 8% and Jones believed it should have been 5%, to say the latter is hostile to the poor is a prudential judgment. Finally, as re. Bp. Bruskewitz, he is a successor to the Apostles and is compelled to apply fraternal correction whenever he considers it necessary. This is not a jurisdictional matter, as 30 other bishops (and counting) have expressed concern and dismay over the invitation and honorary degree. Their wording may have been a shade more diplomatic than Bp. Bruskewitz's, but their meaning has been made plain. Oh, and had we had a President Giuliani, I would have been just as upset and as vocally so. AMDG,
9 years ago
Mr. Becan, Don't believe your own press. Viable infants who survive are already protected by law. Obama voted no on the issue because it went farther than the title suggested. Secondly, the overturning of the regulation to which you are referring will not deny protection to objectors, which is already in the law. What is being repealed is a last minute regulation designed to make Obama look bad by repealing it. It was a planned land mine and is endemic among "your side" which seems to seek empty victories rather than actually doing something for the unborn. Thankfully, these little Bush time bombs are almost all defused and "your side" won't have much left to talk about in the future.
9 years ago
''If Catholics are to effect any change in our laws and the culture that underlies those law, we need to do more than thunder condemnations from a Catholic fortress. We need to persuade and convert--and that requires engagement.'' Well said! To extend the invitation to President Obama may have been a mistake, although I think seeing hundreds of intelligent and engaged young graduates respectfully professing a passionate belief in the sanctity of life would be thought-provoking at least for the President. To rescind it would be a bigger one. As long as either side of this issue demonizes the believers on the other side, not one life will be saved. It is harder, more arduous and sometimes more heartbreaking to try to change hearts and minds by loving and truthful engagement than to write off those who believe differently as beyond conversion. To refuse to engage with Obama is to write off any attempt to change his belief or policy - and in this issue, it is truly the fine shadings of policy that will mean life or death to thousands. Do we really want to save innocent lives or do we want to pat ourselves on the back for our correct beliefs?
9 years ago
To RP Burke: "Bad analogy" you say. There was no analogy stated. Do you know the meaning of "analogy". Secondly, you ask what is the difference between abortion and executing an innocent person because of bias or negligence. Abortion is deliberate murder. Executing an innocent person through deliberate bias is deliberate murder. Both should be condemned. I don't understand what point you are making. No one is advocating the execution of innocent, wrongly convicted people. But there are many who advocate the murder of unborn children and they should not be honored by Catholic institutions.
9 years ago
"It is bishops such as this who tempt people, in fact, to consider becoming ' formerly Catholic'. I do not know what thoughtful bishops do when this kind of nonsense is spoken by a fellow bishop. It derogates from other bishop's teaching credibility. Posted By John A. Coleman SJ". I wonder what Fr. Coleman feels when his fellow Jesuits indulge in that famous phenomenon known as Jesuitry - cutting your conscience to fit the current fashion. When asked what he would do about pedophile priests in his diocese, Bishop Bruskewitz replied simply: "I'd call the cops". Would that his fellow bishops had so acted!
9 years ago
"Fr. Michael, I doubt either of us has attended and given the description of them it is frankly neither of our place to say. Men are not the target audience - unless they need to say something. They are not the Vagina Dialogues, they are monologues. It might be good for you to listen, however given your promise of celibacy you should not be talking to them. Other than that, your thoughts on the VM show why I don't believe that celibates should be teaching about either sexuality or sexual morality. Ad hominum, yes. True, also yes. If your relevance is in question, your teaching authority is gone from a very practical standpoint. Perhaps you should rent the tape. Posted By Michael Bindner". On this theory, fathers should not worry what their daughters are exposed to. An advantage of fathers [not clear to feminists] is that they have an instinctive feeling for what is going on in the mind of a boy or man who is busy propositioning a girl. Been there, done that. But I believe even celibates may have an opinion about a theatrical presentation which praises the lesbian rape of an adolescent girl. To give you a handle on this you might read the late Fr. Jaki's THE THEOLOGY OF PRIESTLY CELIBACY.
9 years ago
Tom, I agree with you that many of the comments to the Fish article are insisting that doctors and nurses should be forced to participate in abortions or leave the profession. However, these are just opinions, not the reality of the situation. These extremists have no greater power than extremists on the other side who demand that no one under any circumstances should have an abortion and that even contraception is a grave evil and should be outlawed. However, the two extremes do energize each other, leaving the rest of us no alternative but to tune them out.
9 years ago
The most enlightened response I've read to inviting our president to Notre Dame is from Fr. Robert Barron at www.wordonfire.org. There is either a human being in the womb or there isn't. Birth doesn't make us children of God.
9 years ago
Bishop Bruskewitz: I have been critical of Father Jenkins for what I saw as as a school administration being blinded by the honor of a Presidential visit and thinking more about the attention and focus a presidential visit would bring to his University and less about the message and timing of this invitation as well as the message an honorary degree offered the president would mean to the broader Catholic Church. Still I must echo the words moderation and debate with charity of both John Allen in NCR http://ncronline.org/blogs/all-things-catholic/obama-and-notre-dame as well as Father Kavanaugh here on this website http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=11564. So after reading your most presumptive and uncharitable missive on this Easter Monday, I am left pondering a question-- is ‘courageous’ grandstanding and the pursuit of personal attention in certain circles, even at the risk of harming the entire Church, only a problem at times within our catholic universities, or is also equally a problem within certain chanceries as well ? With prayers that Christ’s light and grace shine down on both South Bend and Lincoln this easter season...
9 years ago
Why is it that abortion is the only aspect of Catholic Doctrine that can get you into trouble? Bishop Bruskewitz is condemning Notre Dame for having a ''Pro-Abortion'' president speak at the university. I have to wonder if the same letter would have been written if the university were to invite Antonin Scalia, a proponent of the death penalty? The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes it clear that in today's society this is also ''murder.'' How about asking all of the employees of the university if they use birth control? Isn't that also a betrayal of Catholic Social Teaching? I think that His Eminence should concern himself with the problems of Lincoln and not what is going on at Notre Dame.
9 years ago
It is bishops such as this who tempt people, in fact, to consider becoming ' formerly Catholic'. I do not know what thoughtful bishops do when this kind of nonsense is spoken by a fellow bishop. It derogates from other bishop's teaching credibility.
9 years ago
Bishop B. has never heard Joyce's 'here comes everybody'..He must be angling to get a job he heard about with his own subsciption to the Heavenly Journal i.e. as a screener for St Peter-at-the-Gate. Only qualifications are 'More Catholic than the Pope'.
9 years ago
Kinda rough words; on the other hand, granting an honorary law degree from a Catholic University to one who is idolized in his support of a position so contrary to Catholicism? Speaking is one thing, honoring is another.
9 years ago
Jim, I would make three suggestions to improve your post. 1) Eliminate the "?" after Formerly Catholic 2) Eliminate the meaningless parenthetical statement "published online, natch, by the Cardinal Newman Society" 3) Include at least some mention of the statements made by the 30 or so other Catholic Bishops on the Notre Dame mess. Bernie Tracey BSEE Summa Cum Laude, Class of 1955, Notre Dame

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