Sectarian Catholicism

The clouds roll with thunder, the House of the Lord shall be built throughout the earth, and these frogs sit in their marsh and croak—‘We are the only Christians!’” So wrote St. Augustine about the Donatists, a perfectionist North African sect that attempted to keep the church free of contamination by having no truck with Roman officialdom. In the United States today, self-appointed watchdogs of orthodoxy, like Randall Terry and the Cardinal Newman Society, push mightily for a pure church quite unlike the mixed community of saints and sinners—the Catholic Church—that Augustine championed. Like the Circumcellions of old, they thrive on slash-and-burn tactics; and they refuse to allow the church to be contaminated by contact with certain politicians.

For today’s sectarians, it is not adherence to the church’s doctrine on the evil of abortion that counts for orthodoxy, but adherence to a particular political program and fierce opposition to any proposal short of that program. They scorn Augustine’s inclusive, forgiving, big-church Catholics, who will not know which of them belongs to the City of God until God himself separates the tares from the wheat. Their tactics, and their attitudes, threaten the unity of the Catholic Church in the United States, the effectiveness of its mission and the credibility of its pro-life activities.

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The sectarians’ targets are frequently Catholic universities and Catholic intellectuals who defend the richer, subtly nuanced, broad-tent Catholic tradition. Their most recent target has been the University of Notre Dame and its president, John Jenkins, C.S.C., who has invited President Barack Obama to offer the commencement address and receive an honorary degree at this year’s graduation. Pope Benedict XVI has modeled a different attitude toward higher education. In 2008, the pope himself was prevented from speaking at Rome’s La Sapienza University by the intense opposition of some doctrinaire scientists. The Vatican later released his speech, in which he argued that “freedom from ecclesiastical and political authorities” is essential to the university’s “special role” in society. He asked, “What does the pope have to do or say to a university?” And he answered, “He certainly should not try to impose in an authoritarian manner his faith on others.”

The divisive effects of the new American sectarians have not escaped the notice of the Vatican. Their highly partisan political edge has become a matter of concern. That they never demonstrate the same high dudgeon at the compromises, unfulfilled promises and policy disagreements with Republican politicians as with Democratic ones is plain for all to see. It is time to call this one-sided denunciation by its proper name: political partisanship.

Pope Benedict XVI has also modeled a different stance toward independent-minded politicians. He has twice reached out to President Obama and offered to build on the common ground of shared values. Even after the partially bungled visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Pope Benedict, Vatican officials worked quickly to repair communication with her. Furthermore, in participating in the international honors accorded New Mexico’s Governor Bill Richardson in Rome last month for outlawing the death penalty (See Signs of the Times, 5/4), Pope Benedict did not flinch at appearing with a politician who does not agree fully with the church’s policy positions. When challenged about the governor’s imperfect pro-life credentials, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe responded on point, “We were able to help him understand our position on the death penalty.... One thing at a time.” Finally, last March the pro-choice French president Nicolas Sarkozy was made an honorary canon of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the pope’s own cathedral.

Four steps are necessary for the U.S. church to escape the strengthening riptide of sectarian conflict and re-establish trust between universities and the hierarchy. First, the bishops’ discipline about speakers and awards at Catholic institutions should be narrowed to exclude from platforms and awards only those Catholics who explicitly oppose formal Catholic teaching. Second, in politics we must reaffirm the distinction between the authoritative teaching of moral principles and legitimate prudential differences in applying principles to public life. Third, all sides should return to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and Pope Paul VI that in politics there are usually several ways to attain the same goals. Finally, church leaders must promote the primacy of charity among Catholics who advocate different political options. For as the council declared, “The bonds which unite the faithful are mightier than anything which divides them” (“Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” No. 92).

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10 years 4 months ago
I'm amazed that such a moderate and sensible editorial on on the matter of Obama's speech and honorary degree would inspire such vitriol. Notre Dame is, after all, a university, a place for the exploration of ideas, a place for asking questions and never being afraid to ask any question. What a pinched and narrow definition of a seat of learning, Catholic or not, seems to arise from certain of the comments. How sad.
10 years 4 months ago
I've noticed a couple of themes running throughout the posts that are critical of the editorial: first, that "elites" are the sole supporters of President Obama's ND visit and, second. that the U.S. is a scary place where, in Gabriel Marcella's words, Catholics must defend their faith "against the onslaught of secularism and materialism." A majority of American Catholics cast their vote for Obama last November--the altar of our churches and our parish councils may be filled with these "isolationists" but I think most Catholics engage in the complexities of the modern world with a sense of openness and intellectual maturity in the spirit of Vatican II.
Christopher Davis
10 years 4 months ago
Someone in the hierarchy has to stop the insanity. I will not raise my son in this poisonous environment. It's been two years and I still hope right wing chest thumping will abate into something more charitable, but it doesn't. As a moderate, I'm not sure there's a place for me (or us)in the current Church. He has not been baptized, and for me, now, I think that that's better. As politicians have a way of saying, "I didn't leave the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church left me."
10 years 4 months ago
Chris (no. 51), You're not alone, but it would be very sad to allow a loud minority to drive you and your child away from your faith. My advice is stop reading blogs and continue to live your faith. Peace
10 years 4 months ago
Chris at 51: I only get that feeling when I come online and get into too many comboxes. Have your child baptized, all this, too, shall pass.
10 years 4 months ago
It shot up into the sky like the eruption of a volcano, pouring lava down the mountain sides and spewing black ashes wherever the wind would carry them. "Notre Dame University is not a Catholic University" was the initial eruption. The cause? Notre Dame University had given an invitation to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, to give the commencement address this May and to receive an honorary degree of law. The President accepted. Notre Dame, a Catholic university, would be giving a public honor to "the most pro-abortion President in our nation's history." Anyone who lives in volcano country knows that the initial eruption is followed by other eruptions, usually smaller but still spewing lava and ashes. So with this event. Other eruptions kept coming. The winds of outrage came from many directions and from many people to scatter black ashes on Notre Dam's famous Golden Dome. The local bishop of that section of Indiana protested. He did so by right because he is the official local teacher of the Catholic people in that region. Notre Dame had neither consulted nor notified him of the invitation to President Obama before it was extended. The bishop was justified to be disturbed, especially because it should have been known by the university that there could be a negative reaction by many people. The reaction reached the point that some would say that Notre Dame was not true to the Catholic Church's teaching on abortion. There is every basis to know that Notre Dame is true to Catholic teaching. The extreme reaction was, I am sure a surprise. But the fact is that there are some organizations, even a few Catholic colleges and individuals that jump on that type of opportunity to discredit Notre Dame's Catholicism. Another eruption cam from those who cited a document from the Catholic Bishops of the United States (USCCB), published in 2004: "Catholics in Political Life," which states 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." It should be pointed out that such documents produced by the bishops through the USCCB do not have the force of law. In fact the USCCB has no canonical jurisdiction over any diocese or local bishop unless its positions have been approved and authorized by the Holy See. A bishops' statement is a judgment call, one that is promulgated only if two-thirds of the bishops agree. That percentage shows the strength of the judgment but does not transform it into a mandate. There is another powerful section in the same bishops' statement that gives an additional consideration, one that also pertains to "life." "Who has a place at the table of life?, the Bishops write. "Where is a place at the table for a million of our nation's children who are destroyed every year before they are born...? A table is a place where important decisions are made in our communities, nations and world. How can the poorest ...those who are vulnerable ...have a real place at the table where policies and priorities are set?" As I see it, that is the challenge that Notre Dame puts to President Obama. In my opinion this quotation is the more apt one for Notre Dame. As a university it is well suited to set a table of life and to make a real contribution at any table, and especially government tables where policies and priorities are set. It is because of that setting that I support Notre Dame in its decision to ask him to give the commencement address. The honorary degree is a statement of respect for the Office of the Presidency as well as the President. Neither honor is seen as the University supporting his decisions. Over 50 bishops are reported to be on public record as critical of Notre Dame, to the extent of some apparently going so far as to declare Notre Dame off limits for their students. One additional factor. It
10 years 4 months ago
The Bishops and other senior clergy in the United States (amd many others) have been so eager to attack President Obama, that I am beginning to wonder if there isn't something more basic at the bottom of this issue; namely a bitter resentment directed at Obama simply because he is African-American...I don't want this to be true but it looks as if it is...
10 years 4 months ago
With all the furor from some of the bishops over President Obama's upcoming visit to Notre Dame, they are acting more like the Republican Catholic Bishops than the Roman Catholic Bishops!
10 years 4 months ago
Many comments here seem to belong to a sectarian mentality.People who think that the Jesuits stop at America magazine would have good reason for imagining Ignatius and Co turning in their graves but the Society of Jesus is not limited to the religious wing of the Democratic party.I have lived in many countries and have witnessed great jesuits who are not bogged down in their own cultural traditions,free of political mindset and give a beautiful testimony to the Holiness of the Order.Please pray for those Jesuits that they may not lose hope and that the Holy Spirit will cotinue to guide them in this moment of darkness
10 years 4 months ago
THANK YOU AMERICA MAGAZINE!!! You speak for so many of us. I hardly recognize the public face of the Church I grew up in, the Church that educated me and was the bedrock of my family. I'm disgusted with the ridiculous media-created culture wars and everything being politicized from the bishops and priests to the Knights of Columbus and parish Singles Club. The corruption runs wide and deep. Only those who view life through the lens of a rightwing Republican are worthy to be considered "Faithful Catholics". All others need not apply. Whose brilliant idea was it to attempt to force the 50 million or so Catholic voters into one political party as a solution for dealing with abortion? Naturally it was same people who would dare to tell me that my conscience is not properly formed or that I'm "under catechized" (after 12 years of Catholic education!) or I'm part of the "Cultue of Evil" for even daring to question the ethics of such a scheme. It would be those who use the abortion issue as cover for hateful self indulgent behavior. It would be the culture warriors who manufacture outrage as a means of fundraising. It would be the busybodies whose life mission is to root out and punish the elusive "proabort" they believe is lurking under every rock and around every corner. And it would be the harpies who want to "purify" the Church by purging it of anyone remotely normal. Well, guess what---we're not leaving. WE WANT OUR CHURCH BACK!
10 years 4 months ago
Opposition to abortion as birth control of last resort is different than hurling invectives at those who see recognize that in other circumstances, it may be entirely appropriate for the woman to make a different decision (see nuance, Merriam-Webster Unabridged). To those who argue otherwise, please read the _breadth_ of pastoral responses in practice, to assisting victims of rape and incest. To those who argue the seamless cloth, please read the origins of the 'just war' -- gee that evolved soon after Christianity became a part of the Roman Empire. Seems that we can accommodate our most fundamental principles when the MEN in power decide it's appropriate to do so. All the sound and fury recalls: "But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments." Those barking loudest now would do us all a favor by using their tefillin as a muzzle.
10 years 4 months ago
My comment has three parts; hopefully the third part will be a bit humorous. First, there is something fundamentally strange about a major world religion getting itself tied up around abortion and same-sex marriage. These are significant topics, but they are not the centerpiece of a religion that seriously believes that God is three, and that God died to extend eternal salvation to all people (that is a whole lot of salvation). I believe abortion is wrong, but I also believe that many American Catholics (including many Catholic bishops) have made a fundamental mistake in tying themselves to changing a Supreme Court decision. It is almost laughable, but it is really sad, to have bishops and priests telling Joe Biden to stay away from Communion; when has Joe Biden ever had an abortion? This group of Catholics do not mention those who have (or perform) abortions, but rather go after male politicians. It is easier to go after male politicians. And, in the process these Catholics (and the bishops among them) have turned themselves into an arm of one political party in the US, not a good long-term idea. Which leads to the second part of my response: Notre Dame had George Bush, the Republican president, at its commencement. Who seriously objected? Sorry, but it is just not good form now to object to a Democratic president being invited. And don't trot out words about "intrinsic evil," as if there is some evil that is OK. Lots of people think that President Bush did some evil things; life does get sticky sometimes, especially in politics. It is remarkably unconvincing to separate out abortion, same-sex marriage, and stem cell research and put them in a special category. That smacks of self-serving legalisms. And,finally, a word about honorary degrees. Some America editors knew Jeroslav Pelikan at Yale. Pelikan received many many honoroary degrees (I think that once I saw a number in the low 90s, but that might be inaccurate). But Pelikan himself used to say: "Honorary degrees are for honorary brains." He accepted those honorary degrees, but he also held them in a place where they belonged: a place of honor but not a place necessarily of serious academic achievement. Mother Teresa received many honorary degrees, and so she should have. That does not mean to say that she was an academic giant, but rather a woman to be honored, in the way that academic institutions know how to bestow honor. Every May and June individuals who have been generous to a particular college or university receive the sincere gift of an honorary degree. If Notre Dame gives an honorary doctor of laws degree to Barak Obama this year (or George Bush a few years back), it is because they honor the office of President of the United States. As well they should. Too many commenters take honorary degrees too seriously.
JOHN KELLY, Deacon
10 years 4 months ago
Just when my faith in the bishops was flagging, Archbishop Hurley renewed it. Thank you, archbishop, for your reasoned response and respectful comment.
JOHN KELLY, Deacon
10 years 4 months ago
Just when my faith in the bishops was flagging, Archbishop Hurley renewed it. Thank you, archbishop, for your reasoned response and respectful comment.
10 years 4 months ago
"Morally pro-life" and "legally pro-choice" are not mutually exclusive opinions. One can espouse both positions fervently.
10 years 4 months ago
Thank you, and may God bless and keep you.
10 years 4 months ago
Those bishops who are condemning Obama are either politically partisan or they are subconsciously so defensive and autocratic that they seek a world of their weak making rather than engage with the real world.
10 years 4 months ago
Catholic conservatives move so obviously in procession with the Republican Party that I believe they would have the Pope carried through St. Peter's Square on the back of an elephant. Their fear-based poltico-theology is, apparently, the only path "true" American Catholics can take in the day to day trek to salvation. However, when political expediency requires, they can be expansively forgiving. Thus, when President George W. Bush, who in campaigning had appeared at strongly anti-Catholic Bob Jones University, was invited to Notre Dame, I heard no cries of outrage from the holier-than-anyone Catholic right. As a Catholic and Notre Dame graduate, I applaud Father Jenkins for inviting President Obama. Let us listen to his message instead of slamming the door in his face. And watch out for the elephant manure.
10 years 4 months ago
I pray among fellow Catholics who historically vote Republican. They can be raised to applause during the liturgy of the Mass with a few partisan words from the pastor of condemnation of the President or of exclusion of other Christians from the truth of Catholicism. In acting so, I am afraid that they make Christ dance on behalf of their sectarianism in a way the Romans could not achieve at the crucifixion. Notre Dame should not be enticed to join this calvary cabal.
10 years 4 months ago
I pray among fellow Catholics who historically vote Republican. They can be raised to applause during the liturgy of the Mass with a few partisan words from the pastor of condemnation of the President or of exclusion of other Christians from the truth of Catholicism. In acting so, I am afraid that they make Christ dance on behalf of their sectarianism in a way the Romans could not achieve at the crucifixion. Notre Dame should not be enticed to join this calvary cabal.
10 years 4 months ago
Jesuits=why I remain a Catholic. Thank you.
10 years 4 months ago
We have 5 catholics on the supreme court ( a majority), soon to be 6. Why is Roe v Wade still a "constitutional right"? Quit bashing Obama for upholding the law ( who isn't catholic).
10 years 4 months ago
Although not a Catholic, I value my college education at the Jesuit college in Maryland, Loyola. Whether or not I agree with your editorial is immaterial - it certainly has stimulated response, if not necessarily discussion. The basic issue that it raises, however, is not unique to the Catholic Church in any of its varieties, and as you point out, has existed from very early in the history of the Church (and almost certainly from early in the history of religious thought itself). Why is it that 3 people of the same religious faith cannot spend a day in a room together without giving rise to a schism, 4 sects, a couple of heresies and a holy war or two? What is it in us that makes it so common a thing to pronounce that there is only One True Faith, and that it is defined by a single element of religious understanding to the exclusion of everything else? Protestant and Catholic alike seem so often to invoke the name of the Christ while seemingly ignoring the teachings of Jesus. It would do us all good to set aside some time each day to read from the New Testament as well as the Old.
10 years 4 months ago
Thank you for this article. I am glad that at least some consider the concept of "Big Tent" Catholicism as alive and well. Every man, woman, and child in this country is a sheperd for eachother, our communities, and our planet. It is our responsibility to try and improve the conditions of the world we live in today as well as ensure the very best for people tomorrow. The US two party political system offers us some advantages over the parlementary states of other nations, but it does not do so without considerable limitations. It is unlikely that either party accomidates every belief or opinion of any given individual, nor do the parties keep all their ideological promises. But at the present time to support a third party is most likely to lose one's voice in matters of policy. For all of our countries faults, we must never forget how blessed we are to be Americans. We live in a nation of freedom, and should never act in such a way as to take freedom from others. Our political choices should should take into account all of our values, be they respect for life, peace, social justice, of anything else. Where we disagree, we should not act out in anger or divisiveness, but instead live our lives to suit our personal values and act to improve our community for the benifit of all people.
Bruce Snowden
10 years 4 months ago
Regarding the "approvers" including an Archbishop of what the editorial "Sectarian Catholicism" tries to sell, let me add my two cents to the 64 comments already posted. The editorial has certainly touched a sore spot. Unlike Jesus who died after only three hours on His Cross, sometimes the crucified could hang for days, during which bodily functions like bowel movements continued. St.Peter chose upsidedown crucifixion and no one knows how long he stayed alive on his cross. But if it were days, just think of what might have happened to the Head of the Church! How messy it must have been! By reason of sins, crimes, scandals and bad judgements, the People of God for the past 2,000 years have defecated all over the Institutional Church a current example is Notre Dame's invitation to President Obama to address its 2009 Graduating Class. It does seem, however, that God often uses enigmas, riddles and mysteries, to accomplish His purposes. Not even murder,or adultery, as in the cases of Moses and David prevented delivery and glory. To this may be added homocidal crimes against the unborn, as well as Infanticide. Isn't this what President Obama endorses along with his "approvers" in some way? It's a mystery to me how any red blooded Catholic can approve of what Fr. Jenkins has done and which the editorial applauds. On second thought however, it's not too surprising that the President of Notre Dame would do what he did, as Notre Dame is no longer a truly Catholic University. And this drift away from the Church is not recent, according to a Judge, a graduate of ND's Law School, recently speaking on TV. He said some years ago he went to Mass at the University and was shocked to see the priest "celebrating" Mass using a piece of cake, not a host! He walked out scandalized. Such being the case, what can one expect "Our Mother" to do! She's been hijacked!
10 years 4 months ago
I am not in favor of the Broad Tent version of Catholicism. I think the Church would grow again if the hard line sectarians (my guess is they constitute about 20 of the US Church) became evangelicals or whatever. They claim to be papists and the like, but they find themselves at odds with the Vatican on a multitude of issues.
10 years 4 months ago
Jesus=reason I am still a catholic.
Sharon Daly
10 years 4 months ago
Your suburb editorial gave me hope that common sense can prevail. After over 35 years of bitter struggle, surely we can see that success has not come through angry denunciations or accusations of heresy. Self righteous indignation may feel good, but it educates no one about the sanctity of life. Nor will the attacks on Notre Dame help a single person understand WHY human life should be protected. Don't we have a responsibility to be persuasive rather than punitive? Apparently the Vatican thinks so, at least this month.
10 years 4 months ago
Thanks for an excellent and thoughtful article. Any thoughts on whether certain bishops realize they are being "played" by conservative politicians?
10 years 4 months ago
The May 11th article, "Sectarian Catholicism" is quite timely and states truths about the tactics of those in the Church who would call themselves "Orthodox." Also, the Church actually prior to the initial beginning of the "Right to Life Movement" had a broader perspective on some of the life issues, especially approving of the "principle of the double effect" in cases where it would be necessary to operate on a pregnant woman to remove a cancerous growth n her womb in spite of the fact that the fetus might now survive--that is just one of the issues some how The Right To Life Movement has ridden roughshod over developing Catholic thought. Somehow the "Right To Life Movement" has taken on a movement all of its own and instead of the Catholic Church making policy on doctrine regarding life issues, the Right To Life Movement seems to have stepped in and usurped that role. I wonder if that has occurred to any of our Catholic and Jesuit Scholars. Because of my age and being educated by Carmelite Theologians before Vatican II - I do recall also a Fr. Anselm Burke teaching at a Catholic College in NY in 1957 stating that the Church had debated since the time of Augustine as to when the soul was actually infused into a fetus. Of course that was before science caught up a bit and surpassed religion. However, The Right To Life Movement contains "one issue people" people who are simple and undereducated. There are Life Issues out there that have to be properly examined and dealt with by Catholic Theologians but at the same time, is war not a "life issue", is disease, aka HIV not a "life issue?" and so forth... We need our Catholic Scholars and our Catholic Universities to be able to freely examine "all the so-called life issues" and at the same time stop putting constraints and issuing "litmus" tests on our people, especially Catholics who serve in higher office where they have to consider "all the people they serve" not just Roman Catholics. Amen and God Bless and try if you can to "Keep the Faith.
10 years 4 months ago
My mother has been a Catholic her entire life. Her faith has given her a lot of comfort over the years. In the last election, several times when she got out of church and went back to her car she found leaflets under her windshield claiming that anybody that voted for Obama wasn't a real Catholic and would burn in hell for voting for him. That's not the Catholic church she's lived the first 60 years of her life with. Something is broken with your church. At least here in America.
10 years 4 months ago
Let's be clear, the "self-appointed watchdogs of orthodoxy" you have in your sights are not just the Cardinal Newman Society and Randall Terry. You are aimed head on against the bishops who have spoken out in criticism of Notre Dame. And you are identifying them with heretics and murderers of the early Church. How exactly is this consistent with the recent Jesuit profession of effective and affective loyalty and obedience renewed at GC 35? Pedro Arrupe, in the midst of the Humanae Vitae controversy insisted the mission of the Society of Jesus is "to make the teaching of the Church loved"- even the hard ones. Do you think maybe this admonition might be able to be heard today at America Magazine? I hope so.
10 years 4 months ago
I write (and read a lot) for a living -- and I'm a practicing Catholic -- and my head is spinning with all this. Valid statements are being made on all sides, it seems to me. Where do I stand? I think abortion is a moral evil. I also think President Obama has much to recommend him. I've heard that noted ND theologian and author Richard P. McBrien is "pro-choice..." Does this mean he thinks pro-choice Catholic politicians shouldn't be barred from receiving the Eucharist, or that he personally thinks abortion is morally justifiable under routine conditions? I think a Catholic university like Georgetown shouldn't accede to the administration's request to cover a cross on its campus if President Obama is speaking there. I also think a Catholic university like Georgetown should -- as it does -- have ministries for Jewish students, Muslim students, and other non-Catholics. The word "Catholic" of course means "universal." But I am having a great deal of trouble discerning at what point of opinion, practice, and faith one ceases to be truly a member of the Catholic Church. In terms of inclusiveness, I like the "big tent" concept, but I also think we have to draw the line somewhere when it comes to "this is OK and that's not OK." Anybody, capiche?
10 years 4 months ago
Today's extreme right-wing American Catholics would do well to study the history of Germany's Roman Catholic Church hierarchy during the 1930's. During graduate school I studied the documents and photographic evidence in the archives -- Too many of Germany's Catholic bishops (along with some Protestant clergy) entusiastically supported Hitler and helped enable his rise to power. Why? Because of his promise to re-criminalize abortion and destroy the "homosexual agenda" of the Weimar Republic. Once it appeared to them that the new Chancellor of the Third Reich would honor certain ecclesiastical rights of the hierarchy, the deal was clinched. [It should be noted that not ALL German bishops cheered the new Chancellor, just enough, however, to cause profound shame and profound scandal in the light of the ensuing Holocaust.] Hitler's Catholic allies cheered their new Fuehrer because of his "familly values." Doesn't that sound familiar enough to give single-issue Catholics pause, at all? Does the "right" stance on a single issue excuse all else?
10 years 4 months ago
Hm. How many of you "devout" Catholics said word one when pro-death penalty Republicans spoke at Catholic Universities? Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Church officially condemns the death penalty, no? Would it be too much to point out that the Pope personally begged George Bush not to invade Iraq, yet Bush spoke at Notre Dame, no? Making the Catholic Church a wing of the Republican party is something that will be the undoing of both the Republican Party as well as the Catholic Church.
10 years 4 months ago
Sectarianism it is NOT exclusively the flavour or brand for just those whose “adhere to the church’s doctrine on the evil of abortion that counts for orthodoxy and/or those who “adhere to a particular political program and fierce opposition to any proposal short of that program.” Sectarianism is also the flavour or brand for those who fiercely reject the church’s doctrine on the evil of abortion that counts for orthodoxy and go the extra mile to promote abortion while oppose to any other political program and pledge fierce opposition to any proposal of that particular program.” So, it is not by an eloquent demonizing of the other what help to gain credibility, but the engaging in true dialogue for it is possible to have and uphold radically different point of views and attain agreement without betraying the deep Truth of the issue or trying to cover it up for the sake of a quiet tolerance or the infantile stand we know best. In a true dialogue, each part must find a way to engage in relationship with the other's world view without neutralizing, softening or making their own view seem illegitimate. This is what truly offers hope to those who witness such perfect and true engagement to Truth in debate. The best and most exemplar model for us Catholics of course is Pope Benedict XVI whom with a lifetime of thoughtful work, disciplined study and unique life-experience has taken every opportunity to offer his patient energy and reason as the useful tools for any potentially explosive dialogue and in so gracefully doing he fill us with hope.
10 years 4 months ago
Bravo! The way these people have treated the trustees and others at Notre Dame is just shameful - nothing Catholic about it. Thanks for standing up to them and calling them (and their agenda) out for what they are - political partisans.
10 years 4 months ago
I wonder what St. Paul would say about this?
10 years 4 months ago
There is nothing open minded ,subjective or progressive about being an accomplice to premeditated murder. Have Obama explain the genocide of 17 million aborted black infants from Reverand Wrights pulpit not the sacred soil of Our Blessed Mothers University. P.S. Wasn't it the Jesuits that covered up "IHS" for Obama ? "Before the cock crows thrice you will deny me" R.T.Fanning, Jr. N.D. '73
10 years 4 months ago
I am sorry, there is nothing nuanced about later term abortion, a policy that President Obama supports. But I guess this is a triviality that the Holy Sees is willing to overlook because of the Presidents position on income redistribution. However, I fail to see how the position of American Magazine reconciles with the Holy Fathers criticism of the US Catholic church and its increasing secularism...How many times will we deny Christ?.....There is nothing charitable about this editorial, if anything it speaks with more vitriol than with those the writer disagrees with, not an unusual trait of those on the left.
10 years 4 months ago
God revealed Himself as the Way, the Life, and the Truth. He sent His earthly head of His Church with Magisterium. A reading and rereading of your editorial has filled me with confusion and consternation of where your "Catholic" editoiral writer stands. Perhaps, I misread the editorial and it really is simply a political apology for the Democratic Party, because so many of its elected leaders are fallen away Catholics. Hitler tried to convince that certain people are not human beings. Obama holds Hitler's dictum.
10 years 4 months ago
The Donatists, by the way, were a schismatic group that was condemned for political dissension in a religious council led by the otherwise secular Emperor of Rome, who then proceeded to send Roman troops to attack them in North Africa in an effort to enforce the decisions of the council. So I guess the current corollary is that President Obama should be recognized as a religious leader, as well as a secular one, and that if he is able to convince enough other religious leaders in the country that those who oppose his visit to Notre Dame are wrong, then he would be justified in having our position condemned in council and having us arrested in our homes by the US military? The Donatist schism, while critical of Roman government, was primarily a dispute within the Church. And it was a dispute where the established Church hierarchy, as represented by Bishop Augustine of Hippo, carried the day by referencing established Church doctrine. It is Notre Dame who has taken a position contrary to the teaching of the USCCB and the Church hierarchy in general by embracing an opponent of fundamental Church teaching. It is Notre Dame, who in this analogy, occupies the position of the Donatists. Abortion is then, in this modern analogy, the equivalent of the Donatist position that some sacraments ought to be voided based on the standing of the officials who celebrated them. And it is the Bishops and the other opponents of Notre Dame and the President who represent St. Augustine and the established Church on the side of the argument in favor of quelling the schism. Why is it that this article does not condemn Augustine for limiting the size of the tent by challenging the beliefs of the Donatists? As schismatics, were they not excluded from participating in the main body of the Church? If the dominant and governing principle is a big tent, then why not just let the Donatists be, instead of going to the trouble to challenge their position? We can agree, I am sure, that we wish the tent to be as big as possible. But the tent can not be so big that to be a resident within it has no meaning. The tent must be associated with a set of truths that are seen as eternal. Otherwise, it has no purpose.
10 years 4 months ago
The church espouses a consistent pro-life position from conception to death. Many pro-life advocates conveniently overlook the other parts of the church's pro-life teachings: economic justice, helping the poor, not fighting unjust wars, and finally, abolishing the death penalty, in favor of a single portion of that teaching, abortion. It seems to me that those who object to the President's visit to Notre Dame might well spend a little time plucking the beam from their own eye before they rant about removing the mote from their brother's. I'm surprised we didn't hear from this same group about George W. Bush's appearance at Notre Dame. After all, the man was extremely proud of the fact that as Governor of Texas he had overseen the execution of more people than any other governor. This is pro-life how?
10 years 4 months ago
When context is dismissed out of hand, one can turn anything into one's own. I wrote to Fr. John Jenkins, CSC, and simply stated, in my email to him, that I was against awarding President Barack Obama, with an honorary law degree. That I thought was the prudent thing to do.
10 years 4 months ago
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. All of our sectarian brethren could stand to spend some quiet time with Matthew chap. 7. Leave my splinter be for a moment while you tend to your plank.
10 years 4 months ago
I look forward to Fr. Jenkin's post-graduation report on how he rebuked power to its face, the way Blessed Teresa did a previous President. That should go a long way to removing the scandal of his decision.
10 years 4 months ago
I sent the article to Bill and got the following as a comment from him. Lorenzo Palafox, sJ I respectfully disagree. Firstly, America magazine and its editors are, in my opinion, hopelessly confused. (That is the most charitable assessment I can make). For example, last week I read in America that Catholics in good conscience could base their vote for Obama by weighing torture tactics against abortion and concluding that the former outweighed the latter in importance. Upon reading this, I practically fell off my chair. To offer a direct analogy, that is akin to weighing parental spanking of their children to the Nazi Holocaust and concluding the former outweighed the latter. How do you reason with people who have no sense of morality? Secondly, as to the "four steps": 1. Who are we to tell the Bishops what to do on matters of morality? The Bishops have spoken, and ND has refused to comply. Arguably, it is intentional disobedience. The relevant inquiry is whether an institution that purports to be Catholic may continue to do so under these circumstances. Should a "Catholic" university award honors to a non-Catholic politician who (hypothetically) promulgates regulations, requiring the human sacrifice of the first born of every American family (on the basis that it's okay because the politician is "non-Catholic")? Isn't Obama, in fact, doing something similar? Why is it relevant to the moral issue whether or not the politician is Catholic? 2. This statement makes no sense whatsoever. (Again, I defer to charity). What are the "legitimate prudential differences" when it comes to promulgating abortion? If you're a Roman Catholic of faith, there are none. 3. The Second Vatican Council is always cited in support of the unorthodox views of some Catholics. It's as though these self-proclaimed experts know more about the "spirit of Vatican II" than Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XI, both of whom have on countless occasions expressed their teaching that abortion is a grave moral evil in all cases. By the way, both Popes have first-hand knowledge of the "spirit of Vatican II". 4. Didn't our Lord teach (paraphrasing), "Be you hot or cold, but if you're lukewarm, I'll vomit you out of my mouth". It is not charitable to smile and do nothing when others are being murdered in your sight. The pseudo experts are again misinterpreting the "spirit of Vatican II". Bill
10 years 4 months ago
GAUDIUM ET SPES "Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator. 28. RESPECT AND LOVE OUGHT TO BE EXTENDED ALSO TO THOSE WHO THINK OR ACT DIFFERENTLY THAN WE DO IN SOCIAL, POLITICAL, AND EVEN RELIGIOUS MATTERS. In fact, the more deeply we come to understand their ways of thinking through such courtesy and love, the more easily will we be able to enter into dialogue with them. This love and good will, to be sure, must in no way render us indifferent to truth and goodness. Indeed love itself impels the disciples of Christ to speak the saving truth to all men. But it is necessary to distinguish between error, which always merits repudiation, and the person in error, who never loses the dignity of being a person even when he is flawed by false or inadequate religious notions.[10] God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts; for that reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone.[11] The teaching of Christ even requires that we forgive injuries,[12] and extends the law of love to include every enemy, according to the command of the New Law: "You have heard that it was said: Thou shall love thy neighbour and hate thy enemy. But I say to you: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you" (Matt. 5:43-44).
10 years 4 months ago
It is obvious that the American Catholics who wish to humiliate the elected president of the United States do not believe in the transforming power of love. Furthermore,they are not bothered by the disastrous effects of their actions in the name of orthodoxy. Do they wish to revive the patronizing arrogance of the 'good old times'when Pope Nicholas V, on June 18th, 1452, issued the bull DUM DIVERSAS authorizing Alfonso V of Portugal to reduce, to mention but one example, any "Saracens (Muslims) and pagans and any other unbelievers" to perpetual slavery?
10 years 4 months ago
Instead of comparing apples to oranges or citing unrelated historical figures' individual actions, why don't we let the Catechism (which we all agree on, right?) decide the gravity and magnitude of abortion? See paras. 2270-2275, which include a statement that "the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the [unborn] child's rights." Obama, who, in his inaugural speech, included equality, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness from the Declaration of Independence but excluded its reference to the "right to life," votes and acts 100% pro-abortion. In bestowing honors on him and giving him an unchallenged forum, Notre Dame and the supporters of its decision are on quicksand and are leading other Catholics astray. I wouldn’t have been able to explain such a position to Jesus while He was on the Cross, which I find a pretty helpful test.

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