Half of Catholics Heard of ND Invite; Most Support ND

The results of a Pew survey on the Notre Dame controversy are out, and make for illuminating reading.  But the real news, which takes us beyond the ND situation, is deeper down in the report.  The opening graf says it all: "Most Catholics who have heard about the issue support the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Barack Obama to speak and receive an honorary degree at its May 17 commencement, even though he supports abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research. But a new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life also finds a deep division on this issue between the most-observant Catholics and those who are less observant, as defined by frequency of worship service attendance."  Read the results here.  (H/T to Robert Mickens of the Tablet.)

James Martin, SJ

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8 years 6 months ago
Earlier I pointed out that faithful Catholics do not want to see Notre Dame go the way of Georgetown. I meant that a school with a basically secular climate ''flavored'' by Catholicism cannot sustain the faith of its students as well as Notre Dame has been able to do. Simply for hinting that it would be better if the President were not speaking at the ND commencement, my real point was dismissed, and I was branded an Ayatollah of Orthodoxy. Church, we are in trouble, and the source of the trouble is not pro-lifers.
8 years 6 months ago
Personally, I'm really tired of having abortion the make or break issue for us Roman Catholics - as if nothing else in the seamless garment of respect for life matters except abortion. And I continue to be disappointed in our bishops who can't seem to see beyond that issue. Hello, can we start condeming torture, or the unjust war in Iraq, or the bank bailouts that seem to have escaped any sort of scunity while the auto industry (and the middle class which works there) continues to be humiliated? I wonder if it ever occurred to our more conservative members that perhaps being at Notre Dame might be a moment of grace for the president to see abortion differently? Instead of an "us and them" mentality - can't we find some common ground for dialogue and discussion - and what better place than Notre Dame? (Apparently Georgetown isn't available - LOL.) Perhaps the Catholic Church in the US continues to need to learn the lesson that it is one voice, among many, that is clamoring to be heard. Having the mentality that "we're right all the time and we'll hold our breath and stamp our feet - or worse - deny the sacraments to our members who don't toll the line" does not reflect the openness and tolerance of Jesus, who enjoyed table fellowship with not only sinners, but those who did not agree with him.
8 years 6 months ago
I understand that the following paragraph was written by Mary Ann Glendon. I am a Catholic and I am in full agreement with the opinion it expresses: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.
8 years 6 months ago
Catholics who are close to the sacraments do not want Notre Dame to go the way of Georgetown. We know that a prestige school with a Catholic ''flavor'' cannot sustain the kind of faith we see in so many of our fellow graduates from Notre Dame. Just look at the personal testimony of one such graduate that was posted on First Things today: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=1402. We need more of that in today's Church, yet we fear it is becoming less and less valued, particularly among those who are just ''cultural'' Catholics.
8 years 6 months ago
I, too, am close to the sacraments, believe abortion is wrong, and love my Church. And I am appalled that Catholics in this country really oppose the President of the United States speaking anywhere in this country. It is ridiculous, overly rigid and alienating to both moderate Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The truth is more abortions were performed under President George W. Bush than under President Clinton, and, while there are just wars, Iraq wasn't one of them. Yet President Bush was welcomed. So, those who wish to tell us that we must base all of our actions on one issue ignore the suffering of the helpless and powerless, prefering ideology over reality. They are the he same people who believe there is only one way -- the ultra-conservative way. Their attitude seems to be if you don't agree with me, you should leave the church or you aren't a true Catholic, as if they can stand as judge. Well I'm not going anywhere. I love being Catholic and I love my country. You go Notre Dame!
8 years 6 months ago
A writer comments that "most Catholics" who are close to the sacraments oppose the Obama appearance. I won't presume to speak for anyone else but myself, but this Catholic who is close to the sacraments are sick of the self-appointed Ayatollahs of Orthodoxy and I suspect I have a lot of company. Who really doubts that history will look back on the Ayatolahs and shake its head with, at best, amusement?
8 years 6 months ago
How many Catholics believe in the Real Presence? Polls don't decide right from wrong!
8 years 6 months ago
It doesn't appear there is much difference between this poll and the ratio of Catholics that voted for Obama. Why would anyone vote for him and then oppose his speaking at Notre Dame?
8 years 6 months ago
Polls are important however. They teach our leaders about the deficiencies of their flock. This can be helpful so that our Bishops, priests, and Catholic magazines such as this one can fill the gap with the Truth.
8 years 6 months ago
I wish Father Jenkins faith and charity in his decision to invite the President of the United States to speak at Notre Dame University. Though we disagree with someone, and over no small issues, I feel we must keep all doors open to communication, conversation and understanding. I did not support Pres Obama in the recent election, but now he is our President and has my prayerful support. I am recalling the thoughtful story about Our Lady . . . that when 'strange persons' were found in heaven, upon the Lord's directive to Saint Peter to investigate any weakness in scrutiny at the door . . .. he reported to the Lord that all systems for the FRONT door were in place . . . and Our Lady was letting these people in through the BACK DOOR!!! Emelia Junk Ludington Michigan
8 years 6 months ago
In my blog, I supported ND as a pro-lifer. I was surprised and shocked at the many vicious responses I received. ''You are a no good priest.'' ''You should resign the priesthood because you don't follow the Pope.'' ''How can you as a priest be pro-choice?'' etc. THE FACTS: I have always been pro-life; have written pro-life articles in AMERICA (Jan. 12, 1991; Jan. 22,2001)and elsewhere; have personally debated in 1970 NYS Assemblyman Al Blumenthal, sponsor of NY's abortion-permissive law.etc.Well-known in my NYC neighborhoods and to my reps in NYS Assembly and Senate and in Congress as an opponent of pro-choice position. What happens to some pro-lifers that they would distort the work and Catholic character of other pro-lifers like myself and explode in anger at us who seek the same pro-life goals? Msgr. Harry J. Byrne
8 years 6 months ago
So the University of Notre Dame has invited the President of the United States to speak at the upcoming commencement. For some respondents this is an evil surpassing all the metaphors in the Book of Revelation. Time out now for reading and prayerful reflection of I Corinthians 13. Paul was not writing to future couples looking for words of wisdom to be recited at their marriage ceremony, although that's where they are most frequently heard now. No, the Apostle was scolding some of his recent converts for contentious and nasty words and behaviors toward one another. Disagree with Fr. Jenkins decision if you must but don't forget that charity is patient and it is kind, and it is the first among the virtues. And when it comes to practice there is no better definition of CATHOLIC.
8 years 6 months ago
As a practicing, Catholic and former high school teacher and administrator, I heartily applaud President Obama's speaking at Notre Dame or anywhere else in our country. Why are we allowing the ignorant, closed-minded ideologues to lead us? It's just wrong.
8 years 6 months ago
As lifelong practicing pro-life Catholics we support Fr. Jenkins 100% and abhor the vindictiveness and thug-like behavior of those who are calling for his head. We have looked at websites put up by these people and many of them appear to be deep fringe who have been whipped into a frenzy by this ''scandal'' du jour. These hell-raisers claim that the bishops support them, yet only 1/10th of the USCCB has spoken against Fr. Jenkins, while the other 90% have not. Even calling for civility is to risk being enveloped in a firestorm of hatred. Not surprisingly, the anti-abortion movement has become almost a mirror image of the current Republican Party. The only difference is that these crusaders are free to be more self indulgent, shriller and more vengeful than their secular counterparts because they don't have to run for office and are obviously not concerned with anything except preaching to their own single-issue choir. What an embarrassment.
8 years 6 months ago
The "most-observant" angle is way overblown.  While Obama did not win the majority of "most-observant" voters, he did win 45% of them.  Further, there is a profound difference between supporting an abortion law and not seeking the overturn of Roe - which if overturned judicially would alter the balance of power between the federal government and the states on equal protection issues.  The last time I checked, judicial populism was not in either the Nicean Creed or the Cathechism of the Catholic Church.  There is no law permitting abortion - merely a ruling that says that states cannot regulate abortion until the federal government grants legal rights to the fetus.  It is not sin to withhold support from either candidates or a movement that favor judicial populism over actual federal legislation to grant rights to the unborn.  Until such a bill is introduced, supporting it or not supporting it cannot be used as a litmus test for voting, reception of the Eucharist or speaking at Notre Dame. Let me remind our gentle readers and not so gentle bloggers that Obama won the votes of most of the graduating seniors.  He is allowed a victory lap, since their support likely resulted in Indiana appearing in his column.  The more ire that is shown over this issue, the more I am convinced that the underlying cause is not the rights of the unborn, but a nasty streak of Republican sore loserism.  The appropriate thing to do in this situation is to let Obama have his victory lap.  It is not only good sportsmanship, but it hurts less to not remind yourselves that Obama won Indiana.
8 years 6 months ago
I fit into the most-observant category and I am for the president speaking at ND.  I don't like the way we Catholics are divided by politics, as though politics cuts deeper, defines who we are, more than does our faith.  Just back from a Benedictine Oblate Weekend at Assumption Abbey, I'm more aware again of how people can live without anger and with hospitality, not hostility -- how this goal (living in a Christ-like manner) is ever before them, is more central than political side-taking. All are welcome.    

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