Cardinal Francis George of Chicago clarified his previous remarks about the decision by the University of Notre Dame to invite President Obama to deliver this year’s commencement address. He said his remarks were taken out of context. Here is a link to a video of his comments that was posted by the archdiocese.
As one of those who rushed to judgment based on news reports of the original remarks, I owe the cardinal an apology and will put one in the mail to him later this morning. Rushing to judgment is something of an occupational hazard for a blogger but I should have given Cardinal George the benefit of the doubt. His two doctoral dissertations, both of which I have read, are evidence of a profound and incisive mind. We collaborated a few years back on a symposium at the University of Chicago on my friend Leon Wieseltier’s book "Kaddish." The cardinal’s commentary was brilliant and his generosity in sharing so much time on a subject somewhat far afield from his daily official duties was notable. In short, I knew better than to believe that Cardinal George had fallen in with those on the right who have been calling for all manner of sanctions against Notre Dame and uttered all manner of distasteful and ugly diatribe against the President of the United States.
On this last point, Cardinal George’s statement clarifying his position leaves no room for misunderstanding: "No one questions the good faith of the president of the university nor of the President of the United States." As a statement of fact, that is quite wrong. I would argue this whole kerfuffle is the result of people questioning, viciously, the good faith of the both presidents. But, in clearly and unequivocally refusing to be associated with those who so question the good faith of Father Jenkins and President Obama, Cardinal George has demonstrated ably the lesson many of us hoped we could find in this controversy, namely, that we Catholics may disagree about politics but we must do so respectfully and charitably. Now, we bloggers have to be at least a little edgy or we would be boring. But, this blogger should have shown more patience and allowed the Cardinal to clarify his remarks before I denounced them. Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, et vobis fraters….