Reese and Dionne on ND

 

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Thomas J. Reese, SJ, on Notre Dame from the "In Faith" Washington Post/Newsweek blog:

"President Obama's reception at Notre Dame showed once again that a new generation of Americans, including Catholics, is looking for a different kind of leader, not one who speaks down to his audience, demands strict loyalty and demonizes opponents, but one who addresses complexity with honesty, acknowledges disagreements and tries to bring people together for the common good.

President Obama showed himself to be respectful of Catholic views, of Catholic institutions like Notre Dame and of Catholic leaders like Notre Dame's former president, Father Ted Hesburgh, and Chicago's former archbishop, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin."

And E.J. Dionne in the (you-have-to-sign-in-but-it's-worth-it) Washington Post today:

"It was hard to square that message with the rage directed toward Obama and Jenkins by their detractors. Yet in raising the stakes entailed in Obama's visit, the critics did the president a great service.

By facing their arguments head-on and by demonstrating his attentiveness to Catholic concerns, Obama strengthened moderate and liberal forces inside the church itself. He also struck a forceful blow against those who would keep the nation mired in culture-war politics without end. Obama's opponents on the Catholic right placed a large bet on his Notre Dame visit. And they lost."

James Martin, SJ

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
9 years 7 months ago
Re Mike's response to my post: CNS did run a story reporting Archbishop Burke's comments but I did not see that L'Osservatore did. However, L'Osservatore , which is the official voice of the Vatican,  now reports the visit of the President to ND in a positive light. The only conclusion one can come to is that the Holy See has now decided to distance itself from Archbishop Burke and other self-defined anti-Obama bishops. It is also clear that the Holy See stepped in last March after Archbishop Burke called on Catholics to voice their objection to their bishops when "they are scandalized" by the giving of holy Communion to people who are "publicly and obstinately in sin." How else can we understand the Archbishop's public apology to all of the bishops after his remarks on the taped interview to Randall Terry were widely broadcast?
9 years 7 months ago
I read the remarks of Fr. Reese and E. J. Donne and the comments following them with a great sense of unease.  It is as if, in this glorious Easter Season, when Christ the innocent one, in submitting to the cross for us, gave the world its greatest example of sacrificial love, we have forgotten to what we Christians are called.  It is as if we have not heard the command to “love on another as I have love you”, so beautifully expounded in the Easter readings taken from the gospel and epistles of St. John.  The great tragedy is not the “Notre Dame event” per se but in the virulent characterizations of one side by the other as betrayers of the teachings of Christ. In a word, it is in the virtual complete absence of what has been called “humility in discourse”. We desperately need consensus on how Catholic institutions should engage those who hold rigid views in opposition to our fundamental moral values, as in abortion for example.  The Bishops of the United States and presidents of Catholic educational institutions need to work together to define the issues and find common ground on how to engage those who disagree with us.  But even more, all of us need to prayerfully reflect on the lessons of the Easter Season and to ask for guidance on how to become better disciples of Christ in a world which, no matter how strident in error, is still the object of His love. Else, we make a mockery of that beautiful refrain “and they will know we are Christians by our love”.
9 years 7 months ago
>>Obama strengthened moderate and liberal forces inside the church itself.<< I believe this is the best and most important summary of what happened at Notre Dame. Obama has now ed himself into Catholic discussion, and has been welcomed into it by at least some Catholics. I will leave it to others to hash out what this means going forward.
9 years 7 months ago
Editors- Why was poster #1 permitted to omit their name from their comment, and why would this poster want to omit their name?
9 years 7 months ago
The opinion of one ND grad: Fr. Reese has his own reasons to constantly war on Church teaching.  Like the Jesuits & Georgetown, Fr. Hesburgh and the Congregation of the Holy Cross embraced a heterodox take on Catholicism decades ago. Their current ecclesiology is more consistent with that of leftist Episcopalians than Catholicism. Obama's paradigm is more consistent with most CSCs than is the Pope's paradigm. This dispute is not actually between ND & the Church it is between the Congregation of the Holy Cross and the Church. Ultimately, the dispute is a struggle between the religion advanced by the CSCs and the religion advanced by the Church, two distinct religions.
9 years 7 months ago
They lost, but are they capable of conceding?  Hardly. No one on the Catholic Left is arguing for conceding to the culture of death, a term which is getting more and more trite every day.  The Catholic left is willing and in the process of brokering a deal on this one, starting with helping women in crisis have their children (and being able to raise them without deprivation).  Now, the right wing will have to give a few things up.  It will have to quit calling any attempt to direct adequate income to women who wish to keep their children socialism (of course the definition of socialism they use is only coherent to John Birchers, not political scientists and economists).  It must also eventually give up on regulating abortion as a lesser form of murder where the penalty is the same as shooting your neighbor's dog.  The movement speaks of a right to life, however it has not faced the implications of that term.  The President won't say that the right wing does not want a solution on this one.  He may be overly charitable in this instance, although I invite the conservatives to prove me wrong.
9 years 7 months ago
I see that the Vatican has now weighed in with a positive report in L'Ossservatore Romano of the event and the call of the President to work together on the difficult issue of abortion. A good sign and vote of confidence I believe for ND and its administration. Will the bishops who criticized now show some grace in making similar positive comments?
9 years 7 months ago
The road ahead?? The 'hard bishops ' have lost their power to Randall Terry and Alan Keyes types. A/B Burke on the way back to Rome still says voting for Obama is a sin.. Tell me how the hard 65 can get the issue back under their control? they abhor backing down .. even slightly.. the bishops' crediblity is sinking more and more and there is no 'bailout' relief in sight. Can the bishops explain that criminalizing abortion is the way to go?  Make it illegal with no sanctions? With all the bluster I hear no details..  
9 years 7 months ago
Father Reese’s and E.J. Dionne’s articles were disappointing. President Obama didn’t face any arguments “head-on,” as Mr. Dionne asserted. He simply mentioned well-known areas of disagreement and then issued a call to put aside those disagreements, to agree to disagree. That’s coexistence—a good thing, especially in a democracy, but not argument. Argument and engagement would have responded to, or at least acknowledged, the reasons for opposition to abortion: for instance, the scientific fact that human life begins at conception, the philosophical principle of the inviolable dignity of every human life, and the political-legal challenge of ensuring the full and equal civil rights of every human life. The President seemed unaware that his invocation of the Golden Rule would necessitate opposition to abortion, or that his stance on legalized abortion undercuts the civil-rights movement’s “dream of civil rights for all of God’s children,” as he put it so well. Moreover, Dionne repeats the tired, false talking point that the opposition to the President’s honorary degree is driven by right-wing politics. While some Republican operatives used this occasion to score political points, so too did Democratic operatives who claimed that President Obama is the natural ‘Catholic’ choice. The opposition to Obama’s receipt of an honorary degree from Notre Dame cannot be reduced to Republican or right-wing politics. This writer (who holds a non-honorary doctorate in theology from Notre Dame) admires President Obama’s personal and political gifts, but wrote-in a pro-life Democrat for President this past election. The cooptation of the Democratic Party—of Hubert Humphrey’s party committed to protecting those in the “dawn of life,” as well as those in the “twilight of life” and the “shadows of life”—by the pro-choice movement is one of the great tragedies of contemporary American political life. Sadly, many Catholic commentators don’t seem overly troubled by that cooptation, and instead simply shrug their shoulders (‘legal abortion is here to stay’) or change the topic (‘President Obama is good on many other ‘Catholic’ issues’) or caricature the opposition (“the Catholic Right,” “mired in culture-war politics without end,” as Dionne wrote.). That’s not engagement, but acquiescence. John Courtney Murray wouldn’t be surprised to see that true argument remains as elusive as ever.
9 years 7 months ago
EJ Dionne's column mentioned the remarks of Rev Jenkins, the President of Notre Dame which to me were an outstandling blend of political courage and pure schmaltz...citing Obama's leaving the campaign trail to visit his dying grandmother was a wonderfully touching addition to the litany of good works he has done in office! Fr Martin, you were pretty terrific on CNN too! Very refreshing to hear some common sense and good humor from pro-life Catholics..
9 years 7 months ago
Three cheers for Reese and Dionne! They accurately compared the president to his strident ultra-right bishop-critics who appear mean -spirited in contrast. The scandal to the church was the personal attack on Father Jenkins by these same characters.
9 years 7 months ago
If Obama's speech dissolves Catholic resolve to end the slaughter of innocents through abortiona and embryo-destructive stem cell research, then the speech will have accomplished PRECISELY the thing that those on "the Catholic right" said it would, and PRECISELY the thing that Fr. Jenkins denied it would: acquiesence to the Culture of Death.  
9 years 7 months ago
It' a fair bet that the "top Vatican official said Friday that Notre Dame’s intention of granting an honorary doctorate to 'anti-life and anti-family' President Barack Obama at its graduation ceremony this coming Sunday is is 'a source of the gravest scandal.''' is none other than ABp Burke, whose views do not represent the Vatican consensus but the US Catholic Right. God Bless
9 years 7 months ago
It is very sad to see baptized Catholics identify themselves as either left or right.It signifies that they have not the slightest interest in the movement of the Holy Spirit but see their Faith and its application along political lines .Mired in culture wars is a very American way to see an ethical battle.Can you imagine if Lincoln today was accused of dragging his Nation through five years of War for Cultural issues?The editorial team of America seems intent on reducing the Pro-life cause to hand-wringing and understanding,compassion that kills but with great openess to the viewpoint of others.How often did they strive to see the complexity of the Iraq War?Was the goal of the Anti-war movement to reduce the deaths in Iraq or to remove all foundation for them?Why dont we have Abu ghraib style images of what leaves an Abortion clinic each day?One cannot proclaim the sanctity and validity of Iraqi LIfe and then ignore that of innocent babies just because there is more anguish behind the weapon of destruction.The losers   are all of humanity and the biggest losers are the likes of Dionne who cheer at such victories  
9 years 7 months ago
Seems we vote our "tribe" in the analysis of the President's comments. I will remind my fellow commentators that therre are only 2 items in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which are not matters of "prudential judgment" - these 2 are the "forbidden fruit" which we touch at out peril.  I suppoose the Catechism of the Catholic Church is only for us hoi polis. You don't have to be a Talmud scholar to read between the lines of the Obama interview with Dave Leonhardt to see that euthanasia is not viewed (by BHO) as a gravely immoral act.
9 years 7 months ago
Joe, Abortion is wrong, so is killing and others with tobacco.  The question is not whether to fight abortion, but how.  Electing Republicans is clearly not the way.  Creating abortion states and life states and overturning the jurisdictional supremacy of the federal government over tyranny of the majority in the states would be the result if Roe were overturned on jurisdictional grounds.  Resisting that particular method as ill-advised is not sinful, it is simply good constitutional reasoning.  As long as the movement is wed to that strategy, however, it will continue to function as the prayer wing of the Republican Party and nothing more.  Until you become acutely aware of that fact, the only thing you will be fighting is fellow Catholics - any victory over abortion will remain elusive to you.
9 years 7 months ago
I have been curious for some time about the practice of excoriating elected officials who oppose abortion but do not support making it a crime.  Because of Roe V. Wade, elected officials do not have the power to make any changes.  The only ones who can change the law are the Supreme Court Justices, five of whom are practicing Catholics.  Why are these justices not the focus of the efforts to change the law?  Why do bishops not suggest denying them the Eucharist? 
9 years 7 months ago
Mr. Bindner, I certainly don't think that you and I can find common ground if you mean to equate the direct killing of an innocent human to smoking or eating to much fat?  Would you also suggest that those who drive cars also are similar to the abortionist since 40,000 to 42,000 people die in car crashes each year?  This number has not change much over the last few decades.  Do you lobby against the auto industry since they produce death mobiles? Why not just stick to the morality of abortion on its own rather than try to make these (absurd) types of comparisons.  They are not helpful.
9 years 7 months ago
Willie, you are incorrect in your legal assessment.  The SCOTUS ruled against state efforts to ban abortion, which were in violation of the 14th Amendment.  The same amendment gives Congress jurisdiction over the implementation of the Amendment, including redrawing the line where the fetus is recognized. Justice Thomas thought that the SCOTUS could redraw the line on its won, but the other justices did not agree.  The proper venue is Congress and the proper weapon is logic, not the dubious tactic of denying the sacraments to public officials.  Note that three of the Justices who refused to overturn Roe the last time the issue came up are Catholic (Roberts, Alito and Kennedy).  Actually, Scalia did not go with Thomas either, as he favored overturning Roe on jurisdictional grounds rather than by extending rights to the fetus.  Are you going to tell his son, who is a Pastor in the Diocese of Arlington, not to give his father Communion?
9 years 7 months ago
Joe, because the morality of abortion is not the issue for public policy - the legality of abortion is.  Unless you have something to say about how you would fight abortion - giving concrete measures and their consequences - than you are not really addressing the issue.  You can bang on your computer keys until your fingers bleed, but it won't do any good until you come up with concrete proposals that can survive the objections of the other side.
9 years 7 months ago
Mr. Bindner, First we need to overturn Roe and send the issue back to the legislative bodies (both federal and local). Even President Obama has admitted that abortion IS a moral issue.  Legislative bodies make laws based on morality all of the time (for instance it is immoral and illegal to expiriment on humans without informed consent). Practically I would then focus my efforts on getting local leaders elected who will start to make laws against abortion where there are clear majority of opinion (convenience abortions, underage consent, third trimester abortions unless the ''life'' of the mother is at risk, etc).  I would continue to work to have schools teach children about the human life that develops in the womb and that there is no 100% contraception and that if you have an abortion, you kill that human being. Do you need more practical ideas that would decrease abortions in this country?
9 years 7 months ago
No, we don't need to overturn Roe.  The votes for doing that aren't there and never will be.  Not even Roberts and Alito are willing to go there.  Further, Roe does not preclude Federal legislative action.  While abortion is a moral issue, the strategy to end it must be within the context of law and the constitution.  If you have not read Roe, please do so, preferably under the guidance of someone educated in Constitutional Law.  Local governments are creatures of the state, who cannot act under the 14th Amendment barring federal recognition of the rights of the fetus. The people who tell you otherwise are the reason the movement is stalled and will continue to remain so. In Catholic schools they teach everything you say.  Catholic families, including those who go to private school, use abortion services at the same percentage as the rest of the population.  If anything, Catholic girls in public school find more support for having their kids than do girls in Catholic school, who have abortions for the shame value of being caught pregnant.  If you want to teach anything, teach by word and deed that adherence to sexual mores is less important than the life of the child.  Start by giving complete high school and college scholarship to teen parents (both of them) and setting up a wedding.  No high school boy I know will fail to notice that this will constrain his freedom - so this may be the best birth control of all.
9 years 7 months ago
Re Silvester's post: Cut from (CNSNews.com) - ''A top Vatican official said Friday that Notre Dame’s intention of granting an honorary doctorate to 'anti-life and anti-family' President Barack Obama at its graduation ceremony this coming Sunday is is 'a source of the gravest scandal.'''   L'Ossservatore Romano is operated by a professor who has required past correction. 
9 years 7 months ago
The president's speech was heartfelt, clear, concise and rational, and for the first time in a long time revealed the zealots for what they have been since the time of Jesus, stone throwers more interested in the sins and weaknesses of others and less about their own. The arguement of choice has always been a moot one; Choice is a God given gift (aka Free Will) which no morality or law can ever abate; if you say you are Pro-Life, than live it and support it by making the moral and rational arguements for it. Changing hearts and minds will truly save the unborn; not hate, placards, words, or self righteous behavior.
9 years 7 months ago
When i watched the President at ND I saw a man willing to open his heart and mind to the thousands who villified and ridiculed him. He did not condemn anyone , he came to a hostile enviornment for that chance to let us look at each other through a different window. I am a pro-lifer to my core but I support the message of unification and understanding that BO wants to reasonate. One must first be able to listen before we condemn. Abotion as sinful as it is ,is not a binary problem. The irony of our age is that we conveniently, continuously forget history. Many in the conservative right has simplified hate with a veneer of passion brocaded with devotion to their faith. I am sorry, but  this is reminiscent of the KKK who successfully bundled racism with religion in the South and forever  contaminated and fouled our culture for decades. Let us learn to unite our hearts and minds in prayer by looking up.  
9 years 7 months ago
From Mike's comment, #6"Re Silvester's post: Cut from (CNSNews.com) - ''A top Vatican official said Friday that Notre Dame’s intention of granting an honorary doctorate to 'anti-life and anti-family' President Barack Obama at its graduation ceremony this coming Sunday is is 'a source of the gravest scandal.'''   L'Ossservatore Romano is operated by a professor who has required past correction."  Can anybody tell me if this information is accurate or just another random comment? Thank you
9 years 7 months ago
This is not about winning.  This is about being true to the faith.  Although it is hard to be countercultural and hard to be a minority opinion, we need to be up to the challange.  If I stand alone defending the rights of unborn humans then I will stand alone. Of course Obama wants to cool down the debate!  I hope America Magazine will have the courage heat up the debate on this issue with the president!  He is wrong!  Abortion is wrong.  There is no compromise when it comes to innocent human life.  Although there can be common ground there can be no compromise when it comes to fixing this wrong. I hope others won't compromise with evil if I am wrongly attacked and my life is threatened.  I hope I will not compromise if you are wrongly attacked and your life is threatened.  Why would we compromise when the smallest and most defenseless of us is attacked and killed???
9 years 7 months ago
Re item 6: Who is that unnamed top Vatican official, anyway? As for Burke, when he pontificates on politics, he deserves the same respect as somebody on a St. Louis bar stool- no less, and no more.
9 years 7 months ago
if life (possession of an immortal soul begins at conception, what happens if twinning occurs six days later?
9 years 7 months ago
I know his conservative admirers consider it a well deserved promotion earned by his expertise in communion denial, but I've always believed that Archbishop Burke's appointment as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura and hasty relocation to Rome, coming as it did on the eve of last year's presidential campaign, was tantamount to being ''kicked upstairs''.  His ill-advised alliance with Randall Terry proves the Archbishop can (and will) cause embarrassment, whichever side of the Atlantic he's on.  Obama's speech was excellent but it will have no effect on those who are determined to be scandalized. As one of the EWTN hosts spluttered today "How do you DIALOGUE with baby killers!!!"  So there you have it.   

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