Gnashing of Teeth (cont.)

I hate to say "I told you so," but I did. And, the truth be told, in this instance, I do not hate telling you that I was prescient when I predicted the upcoming visit of President Obama to Pope Benedict would occasion gnashing of teeth within the conservative blogosphere. What has been especially curious, and flattering in its way, has been the venom sent my way for merely asking the question how or why it is so different for Pope Benedict to receive Obama than it was for Notre Dame to invite him to be their commencement speaker.

The first blasts came from Christopher Blosser at "Catholics in the Public Square" and Margaret Cabannis at "Inside Catholic." Both were especially at pains to point out that the Pope receives heads of state all the time, that this is what he does, that there is no honor bestowed by such a visit, that Notre Dame could have chosen someone else, etc. Leaving aside the fact that the Pope could, of course, announced he was departing for his vacation a bit early and the fact that to accommodate the President’s schedule he is receiving him at a special late afternoon meeting, it is my understanding that when the Swiss Guard line up, their formation is called an "honor guard." How is that so different from an "honorary degree?" I do not have an honorary degree but I suspect it does not entitle a recipient to a tenured chair or to health benefits. Notre Dame, of course, has a tradition of inviting the President of the United States to their graduation that, like the tradition of Presidents calling on the Pope, goes back to Eisenhower. If they were to set aside that tradition, why should not the Pope set aside his tradition of receiving the President.


"Ignatius Insight Scoop," the blog at Ignatius Press asks what planet America magazine is on and points to my blog post on the Obama visit. Of course, here at America, like the blog there, the opinions expressed on the blog do not represent the editorial opinion of the magazine, but let us set that aside. The writer accuses me of penning "spittle-stained spin" and echoes the objections first raised by Blosser. He adds another. He says the Pope and the President will engage in real dialogue which is not what happened at Notre Dame. Forgive me for pointing it out, but it sure seemed like for two solid months, the Catholic community engaged in a very substantial dialogue about the Catholic identity of Notre Dame, the role of abortion within Catholic political concerns, the continued relevance, or lack thereof, of the "seamless garment" approach to life issues, etc. The commencement itself might not have involved dialogue, although I am sure the President was aware of the discussions surrounding his visit, seeing as he referred to the controversy in his speech. In fact, until the Notre Dame invitation, discussion of abortion policy almost never broke through into the mainstream media since the collapse of the economy, or even earlier in last year’s campaign. Whatever else Father Jenkins intended to accomplish, he certainly succeeded in letting the entire country know that Notre Dame’s Catholicity is something worth arguing about.

My favorite posting came from "What the Prayer Really Says" where Father John Zuhlsdorf nicely refers to "Amerika" magazine and helpfully points out that previous pontiffs received Fidel Castro, Yassir Arafat and Idi Amin. I would have thought the more proximate comparison might be to, say, Richard Nixon who, we now know, advocated abortion as necessary in the case of inter-racial children and who, we knew all along, was a President of the United States. I suppose Father Z invoked this trio to echo the rightwing talking points that Obama is a socialist (Castro) and a coddler of terrorists (Arafat) though no one has yet suggested the President is a cannibal which is what I remember about Idi Amin. Just as interesting as Father’s Z’s screed were the comments. He has removed some, specifically the one that suggested the Pope should pack a gun for the meeting and the posts that went on to discuss the Second Amendment. None of us is responsible for the views of our readership, of course, but those comments suggested to me that evidently what Father Z’s readers think the prayer really says is that we should watch Fox News, join the NRA and vote the Republican ticket.

As I said, gnashing of teeth.





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9 years 1 month ago
I am with Magdalena. How can someone as smart and genuine as you continue to play coy about the differences between an honor guard and an honorary degree.
9 years 1 month ago
We now hear that DIck Cheney supports gay marriage.  A sentiment he kept silent about during the two election campaigns.  The opposition to abortion in the Bush administration was no doubt just as sincere.  A button to be pushed to sucker the one-issue voters.
9 years 1 month ago
It is telling that this blog devotes so many pixels to politics, which is the left's true religion. The Father Z, Inside Catholic and Ignatius Press sites that this post mentions are not "conservative" in the way that this blog is "liberal."  Compare the number of posts that those Catholic sites devoted to President Bush with the number of posts that this blog devotes to President Obama.  Where your teasure lies, there your heart will also be. 
9 years 1 month ago
When I read Mr. Winters's past and current postings on this topic, I could not help but think of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the enormous pains and difficulties he willingly endured (whilein his mid 30s) to earn real credentials in Theology and Philosophy at the University of Paris.  Why did St. Ignatius do this?  He did this because although he may not have been the greatest saint that ever lived, certainly he tried to be the most Catholic.  He did this beause he had an uncompromising obedience to the magesterium of the Chruch and he was not able to preach in public without those credentials, so he obediently went off to the university and did point any fingers at the Church.  Would the University of Notre Dame still honor the President if it had the grace of obdience that St. Ignatius had?  Would Mr. Winters mock those who voice their support of the Church and thier dissapproval of Notre Dame?  Remember how St. Ignatius handled the moor who offended Our Lady while en route to Montserrat?
9 years 1 month ago
What have they done to Michael Sean Winters?I feel somebody at America should notify the Police that the thoughtful and open-minded writer has been kidnapped and been replaced with a man who possesses nothing more than a persecution complex.The real Mr Winters is probably tied up somewhere and furious that those who abducted him did not realize that whoever wrote in his place would have to do so with a little charm and even a dollop of balance.The writer who has replaced our levelheaded  writer has never read the passage in the Gospel of John where Jesus prays that "they may all be one",this is clear as the impostor seems to delight in the divisions.He also seems incapable of taking into account that his argument about no difference between honoring and receiving has been blown out of the water and I am sure when the real Mr Winters is back at the desk that is the first thing he will apologize for. When the real Mr Winters returns he will insist that people stop using terminology such as Right and Left as they do violence to the Faith and hark to an era of tribalism that any wannabe intellectual should spurn.  All will be well when Michael returns !  
9 years 1 month ago
I  hate to say it but you're really stretching it when you compare the Swiss Guard lining up to an honorary degree. An honor guard is a standard diplomatic protocol and doesn't have anything to do with personally honoring the bureaucrat who is visiting. Come on, you're more intellectually honest than that.
9 years 1 month ago
The 'honorary degree' at ND is being brought up as the casa belli again. Obama joked that Hesburg had about a 100 honorary degrees.Of course the Catholic right do not 'get' jokes.  The damn paper is already in a document dump in Va. Get over it and get some real arguments..
9 years 1 month ago
The legalists could say that the difference between the visit to the Vatican and the Notre Dame commencement is that the Pope is not bound by the statements of the American bishops on honoring pro-choice politicians.  Then again, because it is not diocesean, neither is the University of Notre Dame.  The hysterics from conservatives on both events is much ado about nothing.  This is not to state that abortion is not a serious issue, but to state that the Bishop's guidance on this issue has very limited applicability.  The USCCB only controls so much - and both the University and the Vatican are outside of their purview.
9 years 1 month ago
Michael, I don't envy you reading these "Catholic" blogs, that echo not onlt the policies but the strident tone of the so-called American conservatives. Chris Blosser seems a pleasant enough chap, but he's never met a American war he did not support. He's a neocon voice, pure and simple. Fr. Z is far far worse. His site, and his comments, echo the bitter "us versus them" mentality of the American right. Sam Tanenhaus describes these tactics as Leninist. I think there is a better, more theological, explanation - the American right (whether they know it or not) is influenced by a derivative Calvinism and the dualism that flows from it. Enemies therefore must be destroyed, whether that enemy is Saddam Hussein, Barack Obama, "liberals", or Doug Kmiec. Needless to say, this kind of misses the point of Catholicism, and explains why there is an increasing divergence between American Catholics and their brethren in other countries.
9 years 1 month ago
I would reply, but I think the first commentator said all that needs to be said. So I'll merely thank Michael for having the courtesy of linking to me.
9 years 1 month ago
The sheer hate and self-rightiousness of the conservative catholics one of the reasons I left this faith. Prez is a head of state and entitled to meet with any leader. On a personal level the Prez has shown with action he is a committed family man there is no better testament of his support for life credentials and only God knows how his heart is.We may sing hymns when the Pope meets with the people we approve but again God knows what is in their hearts, and we dont. Humility should be the guiding principle
9 years 1 month ago
I'm looking forward to seeing Catholic protestors lined up outside the White House to demand that our government immediately implement policies in line with the Pope's just-released encylical "Caritas in Veritate." 
"It is therefore necessary to cultivate a public conscience that considers food and access to water as universal rights of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination."
"Moreover, the human consequences of current tendencies towards a short-term economy — sometimes very short-term — need to be carefully evaluated. This requires further and deeper reflection on the meaning of the economy and its goals, as well as a profound and far-sighted revision of the current model of development, so as to correct its dysfunctions and deviations. This is demanded, in any case, by the earth's state of ecological health; above all it is required by the cultural and moral crisis of man, the symptoms of which have been evident for some time all over the world."
There's no doubt that American Catholics will be just as enthusiastic about promoting these principles as they are about stopping abortions, right? Americans Catholics aren't just obsessed with other people's sex lives and anxious to make judgments about them, are they?
This lapsed Catholic will be watching.But not holding her breath.


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