The Speech at Notre Dame

Here it is. 

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While there were those who disagreed with Notre Dame's decision to honor the president, the president honored Notre Dame with his speech.  President Obama spoke bluntly and very clearly about his desire to reduce abortions (by reducing unwanted pregnancies, providing more assistance to single mothers, making adoptions easier) and also invoked the Catholic belief in common ground, dialogue and mutual respect for those with whom one differs.  On top of that, he movingly recounted how his work with Catholic Charities in Chicago helped him return to religion, and how Joseph Cardinal Bernardin and Father Theodore Hesburgh had been religious role models for him.  Finally he addressed the need on all sides for a degree of humility when approaching contentious issues, or, for that matter, one another.  

His speech made it clear why Notre Dame had not only invited him--but also honored him.

What did you think? 


James Martin, SJ

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Sues Krebs
8 years 4 months ago
Fr. since you asked, "Christians have differed in the statements each group supports but the general core beliefs remain common to the whole Church." Father we are one family that sometimes bickers among ourselves.
9 years 5 months ago
[size= 7.5pt; color: black; font-family: Verdana]Dear Fathers Martin and Jenkins, proud students and faculty of UNM:[/size] [size= 7.5pt; color: black; font-family: Verdana]Thank you for being open-minded and non-judgmental. Having read most of the preceding comments, I have come to the conclusion that those Catholics who read, listen and understand the scriptures KNOW that God demands us to pray -, not to judge but that judgment is for God only. As one writer noted, as the Bishop-led bickering continue, other Christians are shaking their heads and wondering what we are up again.[/size] [size= 7.5pt; color: black; font-family: Verdana]At times like this, I wonder if the Church is a political party or an institution that is supposed to bring souls to Christ. My dear Catholic brothers and sisters, let us remember what Jesus said: ''Whoever has not sinned before let them be the first to cast the stone!'' [/size] [size= 7.5pt; color: black; font-family: Verdana]Dear Bishops, what are you afraid of? What examples are you setting for this country and the Church? What is all this pomposity and mightier than thou attitude about? Who is the real God within the Bishops' Council? You may not understand what the average person goes through because you all look well fed and richly robed. Some of you may never know or stop to think when a child has to go for days without food.[/size] [size= 7.5pt; color: black; font-family: Verdana]''Whoever has not sinned before let them be the first to cast the stone!'' [/size]  
9 years 5 months ago
I don’t remember any of this agonizing moralism taking place when UND invited Dubya and Bubba to do that same thing that Obama did. Awarding honorary degrees to non-Catholics who hold beliefs at odds with most Catholics is nothing new. President Obama is certainly not the first to be so honored. In 2002 this listing of UND honorary degree recipients included people from all walks of life and religions (http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/6669-11-honorary-degree-recipients-to-be-recognized-at-commencement). I wonder how many of them held some form of opinion or belief at odds with Roman Catholicism? How many of them were opposed by a member of the episcopacy? How many by the theocon faux magisteria? Is it possible that there is some unspoken elephant in the sanctuary that isn’t being admitted? Or is it maybe the fact that Obama kicked the Catholic Right’s candidate’s tooshie big time?
9 years 5 months ago
The thing that most disturbed me about the speech was a single sentence tucked in at the beginning. After citing a litany of global problems, Obama said, "no one person or religion can solve these problems alone." Yes, He can. Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, and Lord of all creation can and will reign over this world with all its diversity and problems. Exactly who was excluded as Jesus Christ stretched out His hands on the cross? What problem unforseen, what person left without hope? How dare a mere human of limited time and space come to the campus named after our Blessed Mother and cast doubt on the Kingship of Her Son? Newsflash to Obama: Our Lady of Victories is not just a title. It is a mission. And guess what? She wins. Period graph.   Praise be Jesus Christ for all the Jesuits who have given or dedicated their lives to this beautiful truth. God so loved the world, that He sent His only begotten Son so that all who might belive in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
9 years 5 months ago
I also believe that it was an good and honest speech.  There are many who would have spoken briefly to it and largely around the issue. Obama addressed it and used it well to promote real dialogue- if such a thing is possible with bishops who susbstitute authoritarianism for leadership. However, I fear there will be no real change in the American Church.  We are in a darker period and no one can predict what this future holds regarding real dialogue on so many issues.
9 years 5 months ago
Fr. Jim, let me echo JK's comments.  Good job on CNN. The only thing I didn't like about the speech was his reasoning on stem cell research.  If I thought the reasoning for allowing it was to cost one life to save another, I would strongly condemn it, as would most embryologists.  However, most embryology experts draw the line of individuality at gastrulation.  Of course, Obama is a lawyer, not an embryologist. The only other comment is that the country would really benefit from a more thorough legal analysis on his part on the abortion issue, especially regarding what is actually in Roe v. Wad and why overturning it is neither possible nor workable.  When you elect the President of the Harvard Law Review to the White House, you expect a little expert legal advice, even if it is not what you want to hear.  While the Notre Dame commencement is not the place for this, it would be nice if the President would eventually get around to it.
9 years 5 months ago
His common ground is birth control and welfare.  But if birth control fails and if it is inconvenient then kill it. 3000 to 4000 surgical abortions on average every day occur in this country.  This does not include medical abortions, ebryonic ''stem cell research'' deaths, and frozen embryos.  In case you can't do the math, that is 1 to 1.4 million humans killed every year by surgical abortion!  He wants federal money to support this!  He gives no evidence to support that increased availability of birth control will decrease these rates (I would argue that the evidence is quite the opposite).  He gives no evidence that an increase in the wellfare state will decrease abortion. What we need is leadership on this issue.  Our president, American Magazine, and all who care about human life need to defend that life. Be not afraid America!  Who will defend the defenseless?  Who will defend the smallest and most vulnerable of our species?  America Magazine?  President Obama? We cannot give up!  We cannot give in!  We can abandon the slave out of fear of War!
9 years 5 months ago
What Obama said about Cardinal Bernardin merely underscoresd how flawed Bernardin's reasoning was and obscured the salient point that nothing Bernardin said or did caused Obama to relent one bit in his support for legalized abortion on demand, at any time, for any reason, a policy that results in the death of over one million innocent unborn children in our country every year, year in, year out.  Fr. Jenkins and the trustees of Notre Dame signaled today that they have no real problem with legalized abortion, and pro-abortion politicians will use today's events as a further excuse for ignoring the clear, unmistakable, and unchangeable teaching of the Church on the intrinsic evil of every procured abortion.
9 years 5 months ago
I think today was one of UND's finest moments.  By calling for an end to the demonization on the right and left, he showed why an honorary degree from UND was right and fitting.  Bravo, UND... Bravo, President Obama!
9 years 5 months ago
The enormity of the moral evil in legalized abortion transcends the Catholic Faith , which I profess, and my beloved Notre Dame, from which I earned a Ph.D. many years ago.  More than that, legalized abortion makes a mockery of  protections found in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, as my all too brief letters in the NY Times attempt to document. Since the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade more than 50 million unborn Americans have been victims of choice.   According the Guttmacher Institute,   “ Thirty-seven percent of abortions occur to black women, 34% to non-Hispanic white women, 22% to Hispanic women and 8% to women of other races.”  These figures that should horrify all Americans. In a paper entitled The Effect of Abortion Legalization on Sexual Behavior: Evidence from Sexually Transmitted Diseases published in The Journal of Legal Studies in June 2003, Professors Jonathan Klick and Thomas Stratmann established a “causal” connection between abortion and a spike in the rates of gonorrhea and syphilis. They observe that only data limitations prevented them from studying the abortion effect on the rates of other STDs. Since the paper appears in a journal published by the University of Chicago, where President Obama taught law, its statistical conclusions must be taken seriously. America Magazine would do well to examine the epidemiological aspect of legalized abortion. Unhappily,  the New York Times has ignored this paper perhaps believing that a spike in the rates of STDs as a result of abortion legalization  not only does not threaten the health of women but might even be construed  as salubrious. I appreciated President Obama's  gracious speech. Let us hope his expereince at Notre Dame will move his conscience and the conscience of America. Let us hope our nation's first African American President will do all that he can to protect unborn Americans, especailly unborn minority Americans, from the savagery of leglaized abortion. God bless America! God bless  President Obama, and God bless Notre Dame! One hopes and prays that the President's replacement for Justice Souter will be appointment who takes seriously the constutitonal protections of human life.
9 years 5 months ago
Father, At the risk of seeming unduly harsh, I cannot believe that any sentient person can describe most - let alone all - of the bishops who expressed grave reservations as "GOP acolytes" or "hard bishops." (I mean, really, Bp. Wenski a right-winger? Bp. Galeone, Abp. Wuerl, Bp.Lynch are the "Republican Party at prayer?" Really?) The speech was precisely what I expected the President to say. But by their fruits (and most tellingly, their words) we shall know them. His speech struck me as high-sounding, pseudo-conciliatory rhetoric wholly, utterly, completely unsupported by his actions, actual or planned. Even more telling is the reaction of many (most?) Catholics who are favorably disposed to support the President. Note, if you'll be so kind, that most of their reactions, if the blogosphere is anything to go by, are equivalent to a gleeful poke in the eye towards those who disagree. Even more telling than THAT is their reaction to the comments of the 70+ bishops who addressed this issue, expressing regret over this. I cannot recall 70+ bishops speaking out with frankness on any given issue, and I cannot recall such a dismissive reaction to bishops. In many cases, the exegetical acrobatics and contortions have been breathtaking. The question naturally arises, then, "Is there any position a President may take that would disqualify him from being so honored by a Catholic university?" The fact I am inured to these things doesn't make them any less disappointing. AMDG,
9 years 5 months ago
What continues to surprise me is the closed minded attitude to which so many Catholics approach this issue.  Time and time again my mother has reminded my sisters and myself (all of us Catholic to the core) that "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar".  The ascerbic language of those who have disagreed with Notre Dame's decision to honor the current president has done nothing except divide the Church and give current politicians, including President Obama, an excuse to ignore us and our beliefs.  I feel embarassed, as if this is my family "airing our dirty laundry in public".  We are squabbling and bickering in the public eye, playing to the whims of the media, all for a "good show" and some ratings.  Those of other religions, especially other Christians, are looking on and shaking their heads as they watch "those Catholics" go at it again.  It is time that we learned how to sit down and politely, calmly, and maturely discuss our differences instead of threatning to throw people (and institutions) out of the religion.  Catholic means 'universal' and it is time that we started embracing each other as one, universal Catholic family, instead of pulling each other's hair and name calling like four year old siblings.  This divide over President Obama's appearance at Notre Dame only highlights a larger problem within the Catholic Church that needs fixing, and fast.  Let's hope that we can come together as one to discuss our difference in opinion and stop pandering to the American media.
9 years 5 months ago
"I didn't change my position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my website" Fr. Martin, I hope your good faith in the President won't be betrayed but the words from the speech above make me doubtful.  The context for these words was Obama trying to placate a pro-life supporter worried about how his website addressed prolifers.  It is good to change your style when it calls for it, but will that be followed by substance?  President Obama's own words give me pause, as does his record on abortion and embryonic stem cell related issues.  Moreover, he has not given his public support to the Pregnant Woman's Support Act, an act written by Democrats for Life and introduced by a Democratic primary sponsor, which appears to be languishing in Congress.  If he really believes that abortion reduction is common ground, then why not give support to a bill that proposes practical steps, and not political props, to achieve this.
9 years 5 months ago
Excellent job, Jim. balanced, harmonious, gracious and clearly stated. Can you now report this catalogue of virtues on the Middle East.
9 years 5 months ago
The President's speech was impressive, but for me the highlights of the afternoon were Fr. Jenkins' excellent address and Fr. Martin's calm and intelligent commentary on CNN.
9 years 5 months ago
The sad truth is that many for many "open-minded" Catholics, opposition to abortion isn't that important to living out their faith.  Thus, they demonize those Catholics who see abortion as antithetical to the Gospel as "fundamentalists", "Republicans" and single-issue voters. Without any empirical evidence, they accuse those who adamantly oppose abortion as not caring about the child after it is born. In reality many opponents of abortion are also staunchly opposed to capital punishment and torture and are generous in almsgiving. If Father Martin, Father Jenkins and others are sincere in engaging those who "honestly" hold different views, they would take the opportunity to speak the truth to these people with love and clarity.  However, by declining this opportunity given to them, they demonstrate that they are not really interested in changing hearts and minds concerning the sanctity of life in the womb.  In the current situation defending President Obama is more important than defending the unborn.  Their accusation that those who protest President Obama's views on abortion as lackeys of the Republican Party redounds on them - they appear as shills for Democratic Party. If you admire President Obama but see abortion as an moral evil like torture and discrimination, then pray and plead that the man changes his outlook.  But if can't or won't do this, then please stop seeing yourselves as being more sophisticated or nuanced than the "fundamentalists" in how you live out your faith walk.     
9 years 5 months ago
"Opposition to Abortion" is an almost meaningless term.  Oppose it how?  With the exception of a few states which legalized it pre-Roe, there was no law which "legalized" abortion.  Rather, state laws which restricted abortion were ruled unconstitutional.  The opposition of most Republican politicians to Roe is illegitmate, since most speak of granting power to the states (and limiting the scope of the 14th Amendment) rather than using the same amendment to congressionally extend rights to the unborn.  We cannot go back to the days where abortion is regulated as a separate crime.  If the legal individuality of the unborn is recognized, the unborn would be granted a full range of rights.  While the moral call on when this should occur is fairly easy, the legal question is much more complicated.  Until the right to life movement deals seriously with these questions, it has no cause to quarrel with how other Catholics vote.
9 years 5 months ago
It has become more and more apparent that many Catholics, including many of the commenters here, and probably the editors of this magazine and Father Jenkins,do not really look upon abortion as all that bad.  Certainly their emphasis on being open-minded on the matter and insistence on not offending its advocates is inconsistent with their vehement denunciation of other evils. Perhaps it is time for an open, frank discussion on the subject.
9 years 5 months ago
Michael Binder wrote that "Opposition to abortion is an almost meaningless term". I simply respond "no, it isn't".  One may as well say "Opposition to torture, racism, violence, etc" are meaningless terms. It seems that while you concede that abortion may be a moral evil, you believe that the right to an abortion is an unfortunate but necessary "good" and that this right shouldn't be contravened. You can vote any way you like.  That shouldn't stop you from employing prayer, dialogue and friendly persausion to change people's views on the necessity of abortion. It's not enough to say that "no one is pro abortion".  Unfortunately this is not always the case: [url=http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/18/magazine/18LIVES.html]http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/18/magazine/18LIVES.html[/url] [url=http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/damian_thompson/blog/2009/04/02/abortion_is_a_blessing_and_abortionists_are_doing_holy_work_says_anglican_priest]http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/damian_thompson/blog/2009/04/02/abortion_is_a_blessing_and_abortionists_are_doing_holy_work_says_anglican_priest[/url] There are those of us who "oppose" abortion who are fully aware of the enormous burden that parents (sometimes single parents) will endure by bringing a severely handicapped child to term.  We believe that the Church and society should share in these burdens and not leave the parents or parent on their own.  But as much as we empathize with these hard cases, we can't justify terminating a life in order to avoid suffering.  For those who procure abortions because they don't want to shop at Costco (see the first link) what can I say?
9 years 5 months ago
Michael, Of course, Notre Dame has no obligation to obey the local bishop because they declared indepdence from the Church many years ago.  That Fr. Jenkins is an order priest, I suppose, is to serve as an excuse for dissent and worship of the President of the United States. If Notre Dame is Catholic, which means universal, why the need to point out these endless distinctions and footnotes which are meant to clarify just how much Notre Dame can get away with?  Speaking of adolescent behavior, Notre Dame and its defenders sound like the teenager who pushes his curfew to the last minute while cursing under his or her breath that mom and dad didn't let him out longer.  I can hear the same cries of "what about my freedom?" coming from the dinosaurs of dissent like Fr. Jenkins. At the very least, one may expect decency of Fr. Jenkins so as to at least respond to the bishops and/or take up the points of their argument like a principled man would.  Perhaps much of the backlash, which he used his introduction to the President to complain about (he's got the microphone so he's got the power I suppose), could have at least been tempered. And then there is the blatant contradictions which are spilling out like termites from a piece of dead wood.  Fr. Jenkins' wish was for dialogue.  Well, except if you're the ND student who challenged the measure and wanted to speak with Jenkins about it.  Or, if you're a protester who wanted to voice displeasure-you may have been arrested.  The reason Fr. Jenkins cannot "dialogue" with his objectors is because he has no case.  Many have admired the patience and good-natured quietism that Fr. Jenkins and the likes of Fr. Martin stood their ground during the storm over the weekend.  I'm not impressed-it's not too hard to bite your tongue when you have nothing to say.  
9 years 5 months ago
Father Martin, you possess the patience, charity and humility of an angel!  I watched our president's commencement address on CNN yesterday.  The thoughtful commentary you offered before and after his address made me proud again to be a Cartholic in our beloved democracy.  Your personal demeaner reflected all of the best about good faith and civil communication contained within President Obama's message to the Notre Dame graduates.  In the face of ridicule, arrogance and disrespect from your co-commentator, you maintained your dignity and grace, always speaking "fair-minded words."  On my best day, I could not have restrained my temper and done likewise. I applaud Father Jenkins and President Obama for the superb jobs they both did in reminding all of us that there is an Almighty Judge who alone is Certainty.  After reading and hearing the hateful, hysterical partisan rhetoric of the last few weeks directed at a non-Catholic president, I am all the more grateful that God is my Judge and not my fellow "good" Catholics.  I embrace taking my chances with the Big Guy rather than with the small minds. Father Martin, thank you for the excellent example of rational deportment you set for all of us yesterday.  I truly admire you.  God bless you!   
9 years 5 months ago
President Obama's leading sentence about solving the abortion problem was  ''Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.''  Sadly, I think that this sentence reveals the true irreconcilable difference regarding abortion.   The vocal pro-life activists, including the hierarchy from parish to Pope, refuse to agree that the mother's life is as important as her unborn child's and that she might have valid reasons for believing that her pregnancy will threaten her life or prevent her from meeting validly crucial responsibilities.   Most, if not all, of the hierarchy's abortion statements that I've seen do not permit abortion to save the life of the mother.  Most, if not all, of the ardent anti-abortionists that I've read or talked with refuse to believe that women might suffer severe psychological damage from post-partum depression, post-rape traumatic stress, or stresses due to overwhelming  responsibilities as primary breadwinner for her family or primary caretaker for disabled parents, child, or spouse. Abortion is not the uncomplicated issue that most anti-abortionists seem to think it is.  President Obama's pro-choice position, as stated in his Notre Dame speech, is immensely more realistic and compassionate.
9 years 5 months ago
Frank, prayer, dialogue and friendly persuasion are empty gestures without changes to the economic system that make every child affordable.  When I said that opposition to abortion was a meaningless term, what I meant was that witout economic measures to fight abortion, it will continue, even in the unlikely event that Roe is overturned.  The key to my argument, and the prior writings of Kmeic and Cafardi, are that Roe will not be overturned.  They know the SCOTUS well, and likely worked with two of them on abortion cases.  They know how they will vote on overturning Roe, if they let the issue come up at all (unlikely - BTW, Alito and Roberts did not vote to overturn Roe in Gonzales v. Carhart, but sided with Kennedy on using the Commerce clause to support regulating partial birth abortion).  If the arguments that the pro-lifers are making to vote against Obama are predicated on their goal of overturning a case that won't be overturned, then my statement about the meaningless of "opposing abortion" in law are true.  Additionally, there was never a law in the United States which legalized abortion, so the term "opposing abortion" is also meaningless in that context as well.  Joe, I could easily write this issue off as fringe and be done with it.  Instead, I engage in hopes that my Catholic brethren will join me in calling for a living wage to fight abortion.  If you really are that passionate than put your tax money where your mouth is. Patrick, Father Jenkins is an order priest and Notre Dame is not responsible to either the local ordinary nor the USCCB, or its policies.  The 70 or so bishops having a snit about the Obama degree had no authority to stop it, as they have no authority over non-diocesean universities.  I need not respect my bishop when he acts like a five year old having an tantrum.
9 years 5 months ago
If one shines the light of history on the lives of Presidents honored by Catholic Universities in the past, one would have difficulty 'casting the first stone' in what appears to be esesentially a politcally-motivated fusillade.  How reassuring to hear a voice of reason...for honoring a President of the United States whose personal life and  moral character seems to be at least on a par if not far superior to his past-honored peers!Thank you, Father Martin. May every Catholic pledge to personally support every unwed teenage mother, every young child abused by his/her father and thereby pregnant, and personally participate in the heavy duty work of saving young people from having to ever make a choice that would include. (We should all be so busy in a positive way, that we would have no time for whining or `casting first-stones.
9 years 5 months ago
The greatest problem with Notre Dame having any pro-''choice'' person receiving an Honorary Degree there is the scandal it caused.  Look at the divisiveness that the above letters express!  Isn't a Mark  of the Church that it is One? 
9 years 5 months ago
A Doctor of Laws degree is a glorified chatchkee for giving a graduation speech.  You are making too much of an all too dubious honor.  The only rights it confers are 20 minutes of time saying "Congratulations Class of 2009, thanks for inviting me, while I have your attention - I'm going to ramble on public policy for about 10 to 15 minutes and then I'll lie to you about how much society values your pampered soul in the job market - believe what I say at your own risk.  Good luck - in this economy you are going to need it, and God Bless the United States (the university, the great state of wherever."
9 years 5 months ago
 IMHO, Fr. Jenkins cannot be justified in disobeying and scandalizing the faithful even if Obama talked well. Why did Fr. Jenkins defy the exhortation of 70+ bishops?  What happened to his virtue of obedience and humility? Why did Fr. Jenkins persist in his course of action despite the 350,000+ petitioners?  Did he not care about scandalizing the little ones?
9 years 5 months ago
Fr. Jenkins is responsible to his order, not the bishops.  Neither their petition nor their pastoral letter are binding upon him or his order.  We don't have that kind of national church. The scandal is that the bishops raised an inappropriate ruckus - and that they misinterpret grossly doctrine on this issue by equating a situation where constitutionally a state level system of abortion laws is not possible and the situation in most nations, where there is an actual statute granting the right to abortion.  The number of petitioners is not relevant, by the way, as there is a similar, if not greater number, of petitions in support of Fr. Jenkins invitation. The Right to Life Movement actually loves these little dramas.  No one would give them money if they did not occur.  I thought we would get a breather, but the resignation of Souter and the ensuing fundraising campaign to fight whatever nominee is selected (no matter if there is a reason to or not) shows that God has a sick sense of humor.
9 years 5 months ago
“he spoke movingly about how his work with Catholic Charities in Chicago helped him return to religion, and how Joseph Cardinal Bernardin and Father Theodore Hesburgh had been role models for him.  Finally he spoke of the need on all sides for a degree of humility when approaching contentious issues, or, for that matter, one another. “  If this is true about President Obama then why did He have the crucifix covered at another ''Catholic University'' Georgetown? What kind of role model would teach or Catholic Role model that??? Should we approach the supporters of genocide or any other killing by ''holding hands'', listening for their side of the story (beyond reason) with a ''degree of humility'' We need to stand up for our values and be very careful of ''wolves dressed as a sheep'' in our own faith Please note that I am a person of opinion but think of me as open to others....
9 years 5 months ago
I am still not over it, and don't think I ever will be.  The substance of the speech was immaterial.  What bothered me the most was that here was the president of the University of Notre Dame, along with hundreds of faculty and thousands of students, parents, and friends of the university, cheering for someone who is fundamentally opposed to the teachings of the Catholic Church.  Notre Dame, in effect, thumbed its nose at the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend and the Universal Church. I am thoroughly disgusted.  However, the Church will nonetheless survive this as it has dungeon, fire, and sword.  The question is, however, will Notre Dame survive as a Catholic university? Secondarily, I found it quite sad that it took Raymond Arroyo, a Catholic layman and commentator to defend Church teaching to a Jesuit priest on CNN. What a sad, sad day it was for the Catholic Church in the United States.
9 years 5 months ago
Father Martin, You never fail to amaze me!  Go and read MSW's article, if you have not done so already.  Now THAT is a "Catholic" reading of the speech! What is truly sad is that you and your ilk continue to confuse the 65 million Catholics in this country into believing that relativism and Catholicism are compatible.  The damage to truth, and Catholicism, that will result from those of you who celebrate such "razzle dazzle" as we witnessed yesterday at Notre Dame will be great.  My heart breaks for Catholics everywhere.
9 years 5 months ago
The President's speech was impressive, but for me the highlights of the afternoon were Fr. Jenkins' excellent address and Fr. Martin's calm and intelligent commentary on CNN.
9 years 5 months ago
How many verbal stones do we need to cast before realizing that Jesus is still speaking to us, to me? You know the quote; I don't need to repeat it. But we may want to let that uncomfortable, awkward, casually intense and quietly sharp directive hit us between the eyes. It's so hard to listen when adrenaline is in play. Plus, there's that writing in the sand thing while Jesus' words hung in the anger-laden air, neither words nor scriblings fully understood, even today. Then maybe the drifting away, the conversation, the words of compassion, and the charity of future hope. How can we not be inspired by that, or at least brought to be a bit more silent? Be still, and know that I am God. If there's anything that's clear to me about this situation, it's the fact that I hope to be able to stand next to Jesus and not to find myself among those easily demonized, angry stone-throwers. But I'm not sure. Those stones feel so solid in my hand and the target is so close, so accessible, so unable to really fight back. Besides, there are others around me who have very good reasons for throwing those stones. Listening is not a prerequisite. It wouldn't make any difference anyway. Just throw the damn thing and run away. Gandhi famously said: ''An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth will make the whole world blind and toothless.'' When we are so keen on carrying our own stones ''for the benefit of others'', how can we hope to see our own sins. The sins of others are much more attractive. Thomas Merton said, in a little book on opening the Bible, that the older he got, the more he found out that the answers didn't get any better but that the questions sure did. Jesus sure did ask a good question of that crowd - of me - and then let folks work it out for themselves. Here's to the best questions and not the easy answers.
9 years 5 months ago
"By their fruits, you shall know them."  President Obama's actions belie his words. His actions as a State Senator (child born alive legislation) and his actions since taking the oath of office as President (reversing the Mexico policy) show that he does not want to "make abortions rare" but wants to encourage them.  That's what he believes and encourages by his policies.
9 years 5 months ago
Michelle, Whether Catholics act like a bunch of meanies or not, the truth is the truth.  The belief that "my God surely understand and be my judge me" does not answer the charge.  No one is trying to judge your soul.  That is impossible.  We have an obligation, out of charity, to bear witness to the truth.  The seeds of confusion sewn by so many Catholics-clergy included-is an example of the antithesis of charity, for, to love God is to keep His commandments.  He or she who leads you away from this truth is an impostor. Consider this, from the work "Liberalism Is A Sin": "The Catechism [of the Council of Trent], that popular and most authoritative epitome of Catholic theology, gives us the most complete and succinct definition of charity. Charity is a supernatural virtue which induces us to love God above all things and our neighbors as ourselves for the love of God. Thus, after God we ought to love our neighbor as ourselves, and this not just in any way, but for the love of God and in obedience to His law. And now, what is it to love? Amare est velle bonum, replies the philosopher. "To love is to wish good to him whom we love." To whom does charity command us to wish good? To our neighbor, that is to say, not to this or that man only, but to everyone. What is that good which true love wishes? First of all supernatural good, then goods of the natural order which are not incompatible with it. All this is included in the phrase "for the love of God." It follows, therefore, that we can love our neighbor when displeasing him, when opposing him, when causing him some material injury, and even, on certain occasions, when depriving him of life; in short, all is reduced to this: Whether in the instance where we displease, oppose, or humiliate him, it is or is not for his own good, or for the good of someone whose rights are superior to his, or simply for the greater service of God. If it is shown that in displeasing or offending our neighbor we act for his good, it is evident that we love him, even when opposing or crossing him. The physician cauterizing his patient or cutting off his gangrened limb may nonetheless love him. When we correct the wicked by restraining or by punishing them, we do nonetheless love them. This is charity—and perfect charity." Michelle, what is happening is that Catholics have traded the integrity of remaining firm in the faith-and at times, what a trying committment that can be-with the lust for human respect.  They have put the natural ahead of the supernatural.  Fr. Jenkins' defiance on his bishop (and 70 or so others), of the formal US Bishops' teaching and his glea over the chance to support a man who contradicts our faith on such non-negotiable matters, is more than a little odd or something of a subjective adventure-it is the very spirit of dissent and self-will that the Devil uses as a snare. I tell you out of charity-avoid it at all costs.
9 years 5 months ago
Fr. Martin, I agree with and support your comments.  The talks that impressed me at UND's commencement were, in the order of their excellence, 1) Judge Noonan's, 2) Fr. Jenkins's, 3) the valedictorian's, and 4) President Obama's.  Unfortunately, as the reaction to your comments shows, the talks hardened more attitudes than they changed.  Those who were moved (as I was, and in the same order indicated above) by the speakers are not surprised that others disagree with us. If among ourselves we Catholics-bishops, clergy, religious and lay, men and women-distrust and/or dismiss the speakers' invitaions to discussion and dialog in good faith about abortion. and other life issues, where is our charity?
9 years 5 months ago
Fr. Martin, Shame on you. You're much too intelligent to be unaware that you're full of it on this issue. I'm shocked and saddened to see the intellecutal contortions and rationalizing so many Catholics continue to engage in to justify their tacit support of the slaughter of millions of innocent unborn human beings. Are we really supposed to believe that President Obama's hollow and opportunistic words somehow trump his many radically pro-abortion actions? I guess we're supposed to believe what he says and not what we see so clearly with our lying eyes. Shame on you and Father Jenkins and every other Catholic who has sanctioned this terribly sad event.
9 years 5 months ago
Fr. Martin, I saw your contribution on CNN yesterday. About the time Raymond Arroyo was using Herod as an example. Your comments were appreciated by my wife and I and we also felt a sense of peace during the commencement, Fr. Jenkins' presentation and the President's address. It was wonderful to see Catholic outreach at work across the spectrum of people who were present, and watching on TV. I was very active in the Right to Life movement for years, very strident in the 70's and 80's. I have not changed my beliefs, but have come to realize that any hope of bringing people to the point where they will at least consider our thinking is done only with patience and a soft touch, not by beating them over the head with rejection and clenched fists. Christ was very present in my view in the people who have treated Obama as a brother. I've had trouble seeing Him in the angry folks so it was good to see His gentle nature show up in abundance on Sunday. Thank you.
9 years 5 months ago
Christ was an outcast to those who hated His association with sinners and tax collectors. How many of his original followers were sinless and who knows what they did in their lives prior to meeting Him? What about Paul, chasing down early Christians, approving the stoning of St. Stephen? And Augustine? Thousands of others who are saints, teachers, martyrs of our faith all who would be excluded if our judgments prevailed. God is as just as He is merciful and there is no doubt that supporting abortion is a deadly danger for those who do-but they are not out of reach of redemption any more than the rest of us. In fact, Christ came to reach out to such sinners since the self righteous had no need of Him, or so they thought. If Christ rejected, out of hand, the sinners He encountered while on Earth, his mother might have been the only one He spoke with. The rest of us would be doomed. So, the act of reaching out to President Obama and his response have been great steps forward in Christ's work. To believe that the president's predecessors have been any more pro life or sympathetic to Catholic belief is simply to deceive one's self, badly.
9 years 5 months ago
Shame on you Fr. Martin. Remember the 5th Commandment,  ''THOU SHALT NOT KILL.''
9 years 5 months ago
I agree with MSW that this was a speech that could have been used to build a bridge to Catholics, and in this sense it was a missed opportunity. But it is also a little hard to imagine him quoting the Pope and Catholic theology without being accused of crass opportunism. What he said was vintage Obama, and lifted straight out of 'Audacity to Hope': the task of politics is to lead people to respect each other and work together despite their differences. This is straight out of the organising manual of Saul Alinsky, and the principle which community organizers stick to wherever they can - build unity on mutual self-interest and avoid religious or moral issues which divide. I don't think we should have expected anything else. He is committed, like a majority of Americans, to legal abortion but also, like most Americans, would like to see fewer happening. What he was doing at Notre Dame was inviting Catholics to join in that process of working to that aim (of course, many are already doing so). The US President is an enlightened Protestant who is committed to a high wall of separation between church and state. As Pesident he refuses to take a position on what is a matter of high moral principle on both sides, while favoring the greatest liberty. What he did at Notre Dame was issue an invitation  - to both sides, in fact - to put down their placards and work towards the common political aim of reducing abortions. Now that Catholics have seen that Obama is not going to bend towards their objective of restricting abortion through the law, they need to decide whether they can work with him to reduce abortion through other means.
9 years 5 months ago
Score: Notre Dame 60... the 65 'hard' bishops 0   Obama called for ' reduction' 'conscience clause' aid to bring to term, 'common ground'   Watch for some of the 'hard bishops' trying to snatch/wiggle back  the arrows that they loaded in the quivers of Randall Terry and Alan Keyes...   side benefit for some bishops, educational TV lesson in homiletics.. 
9 years 5 months ago
Thank you Fr Martin.  I agree wholeheartly with your assessment. The president spoke eloquently and used the controversy to try to get us to move forward... Your commentary on CNN juxtaposed next to Raymond Arroyo showed wisdom mixed with patience. You were great.
9 years 5 months ago
All my life the Catholic Church has taught me to love others as I would like to be loved. I was taught to bring Christ to others as Christ was brought to me. But in the last 10 years or so I have seen and also realized that many Catholics are sincere in their beliefs but have little desire to listen. My uncle has an old saying that he passed on to me. ''We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should always listen twice as much as we speak. It's the key to wisdom.'' To that end I wonder why we are so afraid to dialogue and listen to others who differ in opinion from us. We tell people they are evil. We argue that listening to people who appease the horrendous act of abortion would be condoning the evil itself. It is easy to judge. It is easy to label others sinners. But I wonder if the Church has done enough advocating politically, economically, and pastorally to defend human life. Have we worked with the poorest of the poor enough? Have we involved our children from the time they are born in the traditions of our faith? Have we built our families in such a way that the act of abortion simply fades away? No. The answer has to be that we haven't done enough. I for one enjoyed listening to our president reach passed all the criticism and polemics and make a sincere overture towards dialogue. The question will be whether our Church will humble itself as well and say that yes we can talk with others if we don't agree. The alternative is to alienate ourselves further from society and label all those who don't agree with us as unfaithful Catholics, sinner, or both.  
9 years 5 months ago
Notre Dame should switch its name. It is no longer  the school of our Lady. President Obama did his typical speaking out of both sides of his mouth. He has been a virulent supporter of abortion since his days in the Illinois State Legislature. He is basicly saying , ‘let’s compromise and have just  a ‘little’ murder of the unborn. Then we can all feel good. Meantime, so called Catholic Universities sell their souls for the prestige of having the President visit.   What is shocking to me is how Notre Dame can even pretend to represent the Church. 70 bishops and the representative to the Vatican spoke out. The University went directly against the Council of Bishops. I thought that the bishops were our leaders. What supposedly separates us from other Christian groups is the Magisterium. If any priest or lay person is just going to do what they feel like, we have no Church. 
9 years 5 months ago
I agree with Fr. Martin's assessment of President Obama's address.  The president stated in his speech that there will never be universal agreement on the issue of abortion, but we should work toward a common ground regarding the issue. He honestly addressed a divisive problem facing all of us without trying to evade criticism of his views. The University proved without a doubt in my mind that it is still the leader in Catholic education by honoring a man for his achievements while disagreeing with some of his views.
9 years 5 months ago
I wasn't able to listen live, but in reading the speech I agree with most of the commenters.  Obama was pragmatic on policy, open to dialogue, and faith-filled from a primarily Protestant perspective.  Honors also to Father Jenkins for his steadfast leadership and his forthright statement of Catholic beliefs in his introduction.  I hope America will post the text of Judge Noonan's speech so that it can become part of the ongoing discussion. In the spirit of Cardinal Bernardin, people of good will could engage three debates: 1) what kinds of medical and social policies could we mutually create that would dramatically reduce the number of annual abortions in the next three years 2) how strong a clause can we agree on to protect healthcare providers, taxpayers and others who are unable in good conscience to participate in the mechanics and funding of any abortions and 3) how will we as a nation brighten the lines and tighten the loopholes between what abortion laws allow for today and what must be firmly resisted as violence against the vulnerable unborn?  While the greater church can continue to advocate for no loopholes and a line for life drawn at conception, will a few bishops be willing to work to find the common ground, however flawed theologically, to which President Obama is inviting them towards? For the sake of the lives that will be disrupted by abortion or unethical research in the coming years, I hope so.
9 years 5 months ago
The bestowal of an honorary degree of law on someone who has used his office to further the availability of abortion, here and abroad, someone who seeks to have abortion on demand enshrined by statute as the law of our land, someone who actually opposed protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion, is a disgrace of the first order.   None of the people praising Father Jenkins and the like for "dialogue" would have any patience with those advocating sexism, racism, fascism, or any one of a number of other issues which are simply off the reservation.  But abortion on demand, with 40,000,000 americans missing from the United States, is something we need to dialogue about - - while honoring those who will keep the death toll mounting by their public actions.  Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and hanged himself, Notre Dame just did the same for the presidential seal.
9 years 5 months ago
All my life the Catholic Church has taught me to love others as I would like to be loved. I was taught to bring Christ to others as Christ was brought to me. But in the last 10 years or so I have seen and also realized that many Catholics are sincere in their beliefs but have little desire to listen. My uncle has an old saying that he passed on to me. "We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should always listen twice as much as we speak. It's the key to wisdom." To that end I wonder why we are so afraid to dialogue and listen to others who differ in opinion from us. We tell people they are evil. We argue that listening to people who appease the horrendous act of abortion would be condoning the evil itself. It is easy to judge. It is easy to label others sinners. But I wonder if the Church has done enough advocating politically, economically, and pastorally to defend human life. Have we worked with the poorest of the poor enough? Have we involved our children from the time they are born in the traditions of our faith? Have we built our families in such a way that the act of abortion simply fades away? No. The answer has to be that we haven't done enough. I for one enjoyed listening to our president reach passed all the criticism and polemics and make a sincere overture towards dialogue. The question will be whether our Church will humble itself as well and say that yes we can talk with others if we don't agree. The alternative is to alienate ourselves further from society and label all those who don't agree with us as unfaithful Catholics, sinner, or both.
9 years 5 months ago
Father Jenkins and Notre Dame brought honor and glory back to the American Catholic Church today. I've never been so proud of my Catholic faith as I was today. I'm normally not an emotional person, but I found myself getting choked up after hearing Father Jenkins and President Obama delivered their speeches.  

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