The Public Duty Of Bishops: Lessons from the storm in South Bend

The chairman of the University of Notre Dame's board of trustees, Richard C. Notebart, and university registrar Harold L. Pace present U.S. President Barack Obama with an academic stole signifying the honorary degree he received during the commencement c eremony at the university in Notre Dame, Ind., in late May. (CNS photo/Christopher Smith)The chairman of the University of Notre Dame's board of trustees, Richard C. Notebart, and university registrar Harold L. Pace present U.S. President Barack Obama with an academic stole signifying the honorary degree he received during the commencement c eremony at the university in Notre Dame, Ind., in late May. (CNS photo/Christopher Smith)

Editors’ note: Archbishop Quinn originally prepared these observations for consideration at the June meeting of the American bishops. Circumstances did not make that possible at the time. He has submitted them to America as a contribution to the debate on the role of bishops in dealing with public issues.

The right to life is a paramount and pre-eminent moral issue of our time. The Catholic bishops have borne a consistent and prophetic witness to the truth that all other rights are anchored in the right to life. When Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973, this conference was nearly alone among institutional voices pointing out the defects and dangers of this decision and calling for its reversal.

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Our witness to the sanctity of human life cannot diminish and our effort cannot cease. We must continue to enlist new vehicles of communication to highlight the grave moral evil inherent in abortion. We have to design effective and imaginative strategies to help people see that the choice for life is the most compassionate choice. And we have to speak with courtesy and clarity about why the protection of the unborn is a requirement of human rights and not their diminishment.

There is no disagreement within this conference about the moral evil of abortion, its assault upon the dignity of the human person, or the moral imperative of enacting laws that prohibit abortion in American society.

But there is deep and troubled disagreement among us on the issue of how we as bishops should witness concerning this most searing and volatile issue in American public life. And this disagreement has now become a serious and increasing impediment to our ability to teach effectively in our own community and in the wider American society.

The bishops’ voice has been most credible in the cause of life when we have addressed this issue as witnesses and teachers of a great moral tradition, and not as actors in the political arena. Coming out of the Catholic moral tradition, this conference has defended human life in the context of the pursuit of justice, covering the whole continuum of life from its beginning in the mother’s womb to its natural end. The Second Vatican Council rightly described abortion and infanticide as “unspeakable crimes.” But the council did not stop there. In a coherent moral logic, the council exhorted bishops to be faithful to their duty of teaching and witnessing concerning “the most serious questions concerning the ownership, increase, and just distribution of material goods, peace and war, and brotherly relations among all countries” (“Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church,” No. 12). The more recent “Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life” proposes an equally broad spectrum of concerns. This consistent focus over nearly 50 years, as well as the teaching of the popes, including Pope Benedict XVI, underline that neither the bishop nor the Catholic Church can confine itself to one single issue of concern in human society. If we proclaim that the right to life is necessary for the exercise of all other rights, then we must also address and defend those other rights as well.

Consequently, the Catholic Church brings to the defense of life and the pursuit of justice in this world the vision of faith and a living hope that transcends the limitations of what can be accomplished in this world. This comprehensive and transcendent vision must provide the benchmark in weighing proposed pathways through the thicket of public policy choices that confront us. This traditional benchmark provides a challenge to us bishops today in evaluating our future approach to those who disagree with us on issues of fundamental importance.

The dilemma that confronts us today is whether the church’s vision is best realized on the issue of abortion by focusing our witness on the clear moral teaching about abortion and public law, or whether it is preferable or obligatory to add to that teaching role the additional role of directly sanctioning public officials through sustained, personally focused criticism, the denial of honors or even excommunication.

This dilemma has troubled us for many years now, but it has been crystallized in the controversy over the decision of the University of Notre Dame to award an honorary degree in May of this year to the president of the United States. This is the first time in the history of this conference that a large number of bishops of the United States have publicly condemned honoring a sitting president, and this condemnation has further ramifications due to the fact that this president is the first African-American to hold that high office.

False Messages

The case for sanctioning President Obama by declaring him ineligible to receive a Catholic university degree is rooted in a powerful truth: The president has supported virtually every proposed legal right to abortion in his public career, and abortion constitutes the pre-eminent moral issue in American government today.

Notwithstanding this fact, the case against a strategy of such sanctions and personal condemnations is rooted in a more fundamental truth: Such a strategy of condemnation undermines the church’s transcendent role in the American political order. For the Obama controversy, in concert with a series of candidate-related condemnations during the 2008 election, has communicated several false and unintended messages to much of American society. There are four such messages that call for our serious consideration today.

1. The message that the Catholic bishops of the United States function as partisan political actors in American life. The great tragedy of American politics from a Catholic perspective is that party structures in the United States bisect the social teachings of the church, thus making it impossible for most citizens to identify and vote for a candidate who adequately embraces the spectrum of Catholic teaching on the common good. For instance, Republican candidates are, in general, more supportive of the church’s position on abortion and euthanasia, while Democratic candidates are generally stronger advocates for the Catholic vision on issues of poverty and world peace.

For most of our history, the American bishops have assiduously sought to avoid being identified with either political party and have made a conscious effort to be seen as transcending party considerations in the formulation of their teachings. The condemnation of President Obama and the wider policy shift that represents signal to many thoughtful persons that the bishops have now come down firmly on the Republican side in American politics. The bishops are believed to communicate that for all the promise the Obama administration has on issues of health care, immigration reform, global poverty and war and peace, the leadership of the church in the United States has strategically tilted in favor of an ongoing alliance with the Republican Party. A sign of this stance is seen to be the adoption of a policy of confrontation rather than a policy of engagement with the Obama administration.

Such a message is alienating to many in the Catholic community, especially those among the poor and the marginalized who feel that they do not have supportive representation within the Republican Party. The perception of partisanship on the part of the church is disturbing to many Catholics given the charge of Gaudium et Spes that the church must transcend every political structure and cannot sacrifice that transcendence, and the perception of transcendence, no matter how important the cause.

2. The message that the bishops are ratifying the “culture war mentality,” which corrodes debate both in American politics and in the internal life of the church. Both poles of the American political spectrum see our society as enmeshed in a culture war over the issues of abortion, marriage, immigration rights and the death penalty. In such a war, they argue, the demonization of alternative viewpoints and of opposing leaders is not merely acceptable, but required. More intense tactics and language are automatically seen as more effective, as necessary and more in keeping with the importance of the issues being debated. The “culture war mentality” has also seeped into the life of the church, distorting the debate on vital issues and leading to campaigns against bishops for their efforts to proclaim the Gospel with charity rather than with antagonism.

The movement toward sanctions against public officials will be seen as ratifying this trajectory in our political, cultural and ecclesial life. Whatever our intention may be, the acceptance and employment of a strategy that deliberately moves beyond teaching and pointing up the moral dimensions of public issues to labeling those with whom we disagree, will inevitably embolden those who de-Christianize our public debate both within and outside the church.

3. The message that the bishops are effectively indifferent to all grave evils other than abortion. Perhaps the most difficult task we face, as teachers on the moral dimensions of public policy in the United States today, is emphasizing the pre-eminence of abortion as a moral issue while defending a holistic view of the rights intrinsic to the defense of the dignity of the human person. This task of balancing arises not only in the formulation of our policy statements, but also in the steps we as bishops take to achieve justice in the political order. The pathway of sanctions and personal condemnation will open every bishop to the charge that if we do not use the tactic of sanctions and condemnations on issues such as war and peace or global poverty, we are tacitly relegating those issues to a level of unimportance. And it would indeed be difficult to explain how it is appropriate for a Catholic university to honor those who authorize torture or initiate an unjust war or cut assistance to the world’s poor. To assert on the one hand that the tactics of sanction and personal condemnation are legitimate tools for episcopal action in the public order, while on the other hand refusing to employ those tactics for any issue other than abortion will only deepen the suspicions of those in American society who believe that we bishops of the church in the United States are myopic in our approach to Catholic social teaching.

4. The message that the bishops are insensitive to the heritage and the continuing existence of racism in America. The election of Senator Barack Obama as President of the United States in November 2008 was a unique and signal moment in the history of racial solidarity in the United States. L‘Osservatore Romano compared it to the fall of the Berlin Wall. All over the world the election was hailed as ushering in a new chapter in the rejection of racial stereotypes and the enhancement of international relations.

Yet here in the United States, there has been the perception that we bishops did not grasp the immense significance of the moment. African-American priests, religious and lay persons have related that they felt they had to mute their jubilation at the election of an African-American president, and that we bishops did not share their jubilation. Some have expressed deep hurt over this, precisely because they respect the bishops and they love the church.

Added to this, the spirited condemnation of the president’s visit and degree at Notre Dame last May have reinforced for many African-American Catholics those feelings of hurt and alienation. It is not that African-American Catholics do not understand that the church must oppose abortion, or that they themselves personally believe that the bishops are acting out of racist motivations. It is rather that when the church embraces a new level of confrontation when an African-American is involved, this readily raises widespread questions about our racial sensitivity. And these questions will only continue to be raised more forcefully if we continue to walk down the path of confrontation with this administration.

A Policy of Cordiality

As we confront the admittedly difficult task of balancing the need to uphold the sanctity of human life while avoiding the enormously destructive consequences of the strategy of sanction and condemnation, we bishops could profitably look to the example of the Holy See, which wrestles with these same complex issues of integrity of witness, fidelity to truth, civility in discourse, and political, national and racial sensitivities every day.

The approach of the Holy See might justly be characterized as a policy of cordiality. It proceeds from the conviction that the integrity of Catholic teaching can never be sacrificed. It reflects a deep desire to enshrine comity at the center of public discourse and relations with public officials. It is willing to speak the truth directly to earthly power.

Yet the Holy See shows great reluctance to publicly personalize disagreements with public officials on elements of church teaching. And the approach of the Holy See consistently favors engagement over confrontation. As Pope John Paul II put it, “The goal of the Church is to make of the adversary a brother.”

These principles of cordiality will not make our task as bishops in the public square an easy one. But they do provide the best anchor for insuring that our actions and statements remain faithful to the comprehensive and transcendent mission of the church, our ultimate mandate. Much of this is summed up in the council’s decree on bishops, Christus Dominus (No. 13):

The Church has to be on speaking terms with the human society in which it lives. It is therefore the duty of bishops especially to make an approach to people, seeking and promoting dialog with them. If truth is constantly to be accompanied by charity and understanding by love, in such salutary discussions they should present their positions in clear language, unagressively and diplomatically. Likewise they should show prudence combined with confidence, for this is what brings about union of minds by encouraging friendship.

For more on President Obama's appearance at Notre Dame see America's archive on the controversy.

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10 years 1 month ago
These quotes should be carefully considered regarding the sanctity of life, which was critical regarding a President who was no advocate. See also comments at bottom.
                    Quotations from the early Church Fathers on the Sanctity of Human Life
 The Didache ca 120 AD
“Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion.” 2:2
“The Way of Death is filled with people who are … murderers of children and abortionists of God’s creatures.” 5:1-2
 The Epistle or Barnabas ca 125 AD
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor more than thy own life. Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion.” 19:5
 The Apocalypse of Peter ca 135
“I saw a gorge in which the discharge and excrement of the tortured ran down and became like a lake. There sat women, and the discharge came up to their throats; and opposite them sat many children, who were born prematurely, weeping. And from them went forth rays of fire and smote the women on the eyes. These were those who produced children outside of marriage and who procured abortions.” -26
“Those who slew the unborn children will be tortured forever, for God wills it to so.” -2:264
 Clement of Alexandria ca 150-180
“Our whole life can go on in observation of the laws of nature, if we gain dominion over our desires from the beginning and if we do not kill, by various means of a perverse art, the human offspring, born according to the designs of divine providence; for these women who, if order to hide their immorality, use abortive drugs which expel the child completely dead, abort at the same time their own human feelings.” -Paedagogus 2
 St. Athenagoras ca 765
“We say that women who induce abortions are murderers, and will have to give account of it to God. For the same person, would not regard the child in the womb as a living being and therefore an object of God’s care and then kill it…. But we are altogether consistent in our conduct. We obey reason and do not override it.” -Legatio 35
 Tertullian ca 160-240
“For us [Christians] we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter when you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to birth. That is a man which is going to be one: you have the fruit already in the seed.” -Apology 9:6
“They [John and Jesus] were both alive while still in the womb. Elizabeth rejoiced as the infant leaped in her womb; Mary glorifies the Lord because Christ within inspired her. Each mother recognizes her child and is known by her child who is alive, being not merely souls but also spirits.”
-De A ninta 26:4
 Nlititicilis Felix ca 180-225
“There are women who swallow drugs to stifle in their own womb the beginnings of a man to be – committing infanticide before they even give birth to the infant.” -Octavius
 St. Hippolytus ca 170-236
“Reputed believes began to resort to drugs for producing Sterility and to gird themselves round, so as to expel what was conceived on account of their not wanting to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth. Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time.” -Refutation of all Heresies 9:7
 Council of Eivira ca 305
“If a woman becomes pregnant by committing adultery, While her husband is absent, and after the act she destroys the child, it is proper to keep her from communion until death, because she has doubled her crime.” -Canon 63
 St. Basil the Great ca 330-379
“She who has deliberately destroyed a fetus has to pay the penalty of murder…. here it is not only the child to be born that is vindicated, but also the woman herself who made an attempt against her own life, because usually the women die in such attempts. Furthermore, added to this is the destruction of the child, another murder.” -Letter 188:2
“Moreover, those, too, who give drugs causing abortion are deliberate murderers themselves, as well as those receiving the poison which kills the- fetus.” -Letter 188:2
St. Ambrose of Milan ca 339-397
The wealthy, in order that their inheritance may not be divided among several, deny in the very womb their own progeny. By use of’ parricidal mixtures they snuff out the fruit of their wombs in the genital organs themselves. In this way life is taken away before it is born …. Who except man himself has taught us ways of repudiating children?” -Hexameron
St. Jerome ca 342-420
“They drink potions to ensure sterility and are guilty of murdering a human being not yet conceived. Some, when they learn that they are with child through sin, practice abortion by the use of drugs. Frequently they die themselves and are brought before the rulers of the lower world guilty of three crimes: suicide, adultery against Christ, and murder of an unborn child.” -Letter 22:13
The Apostolic Constitutions ca 380
“Thou shalt not slay the child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten. For everything that is shaped, and his received a soul from God, if slain, it shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed.” ,-7:3
 St. John Chrysostom ca 340-407
“Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit? Where there are many efforts at abortion? Where there is murder before the birth? For you do not even let the harlot remain a mere harlot, but make her a murderer also. You see how drunkenness leads to whoredom, whoredom to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather something even worse than murder. For I have no real name to give it, since it does not destroy the thing born but prevents its being born. Why then do you abuse the gift of God and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the place of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter? -Homily 24 on Romans.
For those who would say that the very early Church was silent on the question of abortion, even the few select quotations quoted above from the Church Fathers give witness to the contrary.
 It should be seriously remembered that they spoke with both authority and truth. And apparently they had no trouble doing it either!  We all must remember that one day each one of us will also have to stand before God and explain him/herself regarding what one has done here on earth and whether or not one had a good conscience, lived a true Catholic life, and in part gave good example as well as care and concern to the most innocent and vulnerable. When one does not act appropriately as noted by, in this case, within the context of the 5th commandment which is from God Himself, one must remember God’s justice which many forget, and it is forever. It is better to have Fear of God (which is the first sign of wisdom) than to fear any man, or the dark worldly ideas on this earth, all of which is very much addressed by St. Paul. 
It is critical to love and gently care for the little one’s in the womb, and consider it a major blessing, than for anyone to think it is okay to kill a human life. God gave us life first. Have we all forgotten this? And so it is very important to care for one’s bodies. How can one even possibly perceive that a woman could kill her own child! What have we become? It  should be honorable, and rightly needed as well, to teach women ‘virtue’ and how they should conduct themselves with modesty, and not let it all hang out and be sloppy in dress to boot, and to teach the commentaries of St. Paul as well. Goodness we just finished a year of St. Paul.  
Freedom always comes with a price, and in part requires a serious responsibility, as well as charity and love. Without an appropriate love, with it’s fine examples (which is found in many women and men's saints lives), as well as the best example of a Mother’s love through looking at the Blessed Mother, we become a dark and doomed country on the path to perdition, and instead  little by little become a very selfish, self-centered non-Christian people. It is far better for Catholics to set a most beautiful example of loving from birth through death, than one which amounts literally to hatred by the killing of innocent life which is a terrible example to every one. One should be able to see that this abortion and those who believe in it  leads to a darkness which induces more killing and emphasizes dramatically a lack of respect for life which will then happen at all levels (both the elderly as well as the innocent young). It also shows a lack of charity and love of  “neighbor" in the tiniest sense, and, certainly it is not love of God or even one’s own self, as our dear Lord would have it.
If a woman cannot respect the beautiful life giving gift in her womb, it is quite a problem, and this needs to be emphasized in teachings from the pulpit and our Catholic colleges, and at home too, and is in part, is what it means to 'be in the world and not of it.' If there is no real respect for the tiny innocent one, how do you think people will react to those who get old? With what respect will they have of the elderly? (Ah yes, the word 'respect.').  Yet, should we not care how the young, who are alive and in this world, are being shown such a viciousness, and terrible example and thinking, by permitting one to speak who believes in the black death of abortion that is being approved of, and  ultimately is disrespect for one’s body (a body which initially comes from the loving hand and care of God .
We need to pray that our dear Lord and Holy Spirit open up all hearts to Him who made us and loved us and placed us on the earth first to do good, be caring and nurturing to all, and provide to others, both in the womb and outside the womb, the loving respect and example they all deserve to receive. Have we all forgotten why God made us in the first place? "To know, love and serve Him in this world, so that we may be happy with Him forever in heaven."  Have we forgotten our roots?
We must remember and reflect on these beautiful words of the Bible –
“I knew you before you were even in the womb…..” In eternal splendor, before the dawn of light on earth, I have begotten you; From the womb before the dawn I begot you (Psalm 110); In the beginning; before time began, the Word was God; In Him everything in heaven and on earth was created, things visible and invisible (Col. 1:12-20); All were created through Him, all were created for Him, and in Him everything continues in being; The Eternal Life that was present to the Father and visible to us (1 John 1).... My goodness, there can be no greater Love than this!
 Without the respect for the beginning of life in the womb, it should be a concern too that a  ‘health care plan’ might also included sections dealing with euthanasia. And then, to have a person come who was so anti-Catholic in thinking rather than one who is supposed to live and follow the 10 Commandments of God, gives a most horrible example to everyone  who reads about it, or sees it, and that  includes all Catholics because it permits approval  of those things that go against our own faith, and evil views once again permiate over the land and cause massive confusion to all.  Why do this?
It would seem that the necessary 'catechesis,' which is real truth must come from the pulpit.  Pope John Paul II’s most wonderful and yet very direct words must be put into the heart, mind, soul and spirit of every priest, bishop, archbishop, cardinal  - “Be Not Afraid.”   
 In part, real catechesis is very much needed, as in the recent Feast Day of St. John the Baptist, who, because of speaking real truth was imprisioned and beheaded for the truth.  And what about the Scriptures that address Proverbs and Ecclesiasticus Certainly, one can address what love is, but  we all need to know how to act as appropriate Christians (how to be in the world and not of it), and these parts of scriptures certainly give one good lessons and show virtues as well. 
As real Christian people, the people that teach in colleges and those who speak at Catholic schools, need to be  good and fine examples of real and authentic Catholic teaching. For it is they who will provide sound counsel and input to our Catholic youth  and help guide them along the 'narrow path.'  Heaven help us if we lose youth because we are all  afraid to have speakers who can enlighten our youth, and can also speak real and honest truth to them and guide them appropriately. Wisdom, be attentive. 
Blessings to all.
 
 
10 years 1 month ago

The letter below was sent to the Notre Dame Observer but not published.


A former atheist's take on the Obama travesty

 

As a recent revert to the Catholic faith, I have been following the travesty pulled off by the Notre Dame administration with the Obama invite very closely because it contains many of the elements that pushed me to 10 plus year journey into agnosticism then atheism. 

 

I was born, raised and baptized a Catholic in Spain almost 35 years ago. My journey away from the Catholic faith started in college, a public university near my hometown, where I was introduced to an intellectual atmosphere that despised belief in God, and particularly Catholic teachings. Amongst the numerous reasons I was pointed out about how the Catholic faith was just a invention created by the powerful elite were the numerous contradictions of the Church through its history, from its being adopted by the Roman Empire at the time of the emperor Constantine, to the selling of indulgences during the Middle Ages to more recently its closely related links to dictatorial regimes such as Francisco Franco's. While those who criticize the Catholic Church in those terms quite often forget the extraordinary work done by the Catholic clergy all around the world assisting the most needy in society, it's nonetheless important to understand the effect that such criticism can have in young minds such as those who will be attending this year's commencement at Notre Dame to receive their well earned degrees.

 

Few teachings are more fundamental in Catholic doctrine than the evil of abortion. Moreover, some of the strongest language that the Bible puts in the mount of Jesus Christ can be found precisely to warn those who cause children or young people to sin: Mark 9, 42 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe (in me) to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea."

How can the Notre Dame administration led by Father Jenkins invite Mr Obama to give a commencement address in spite of such warning is a mystery to me.

 

Mr Obama is a declared pro abortionist who as recently as April 2009 reaffirmed his anti life stance. He eloquently described his radical views in the Illinois senate in 2002 when he expressed his reason for voting against that state's version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, a law which would have required doctors to save the life of babies who survived abortion procedures, "[A]dding a - an additional doctor who then has to be called in an emergency situation to come in and make these assessments is really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion. . I think it's important to understand that this issue ultimately is about abortion and not live births."

 

Students, and young people at large, who are watching the Catholic establishment at Notre Dame compromise one of the Church's most sacred teachings for the sake of having Notre Dame's name associated with a popular president will be automatically led, as I was, to question the veracity of those teachings. When those young people begin to question the veracity of the Church's teachings, they will be then led to question the authenticity of the Church, Jesus Christ and whole idea of God. Put bluntly, the Notre Dame administration, with his decision of inviting Mr Obama as a commencement speaker, is inciting many young people around America to question our faith's tenants.

 

My way back to belief, and Catholicism, was prompted two years ago by the tragic death of two young friends of mine who died in unexpected circumstances. After struggling with the whole issue of God for two years, I decided that I could not let past and present travesties, such as the current Notre Dame administration, to be an obstacle to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I began attending weekly Sunday mass during the summer of 2008. Approximately 1 month ago, I went through the sacrament of confession and took communion for the first time in 15 years.

 

As somebody who was contaminated by the same type of hubris and arrogance exhibited by Father Jenkins I can tell you that compromising the Church's teachings will have its consequences in the lives of many of those attending this year's commencement. The Notre Dame administration should do the right thing and rescind the invitation to Mr Obama for he cannot be of any inspiration to Notre Dame graduates as long as Notre Dame considers itself a Catholic institution.

 

Saint Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, was very clear on how to deal with idolaters such as the Notre Dame administration "I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people, not at all referring to the immoral of this world or the greedy and robbers or idolaters; for you would then have to leave the world. But I now write to you not to associate with anyone named a brother, if he is immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a robber, not even to eat with such a person." During the first century AD, the Church of Corinth was facing challenges which were no less phenomenal in scope than those faced by our society today. The Notre Dame administration has no excuse not to follow Saint Paul's instructions in the case of the Obama travesty.

10 years 1 month ago
Thanks Notre Dame, for clearly communicating to Obama and the rest of the world, that no one should listen to the Bishops! Now we have goverment funded abortions being proposed in the new health care plans. Not good fruit. Perhaps you need to consider that Christ is speaking to us through the Bishops and you are just making yourself an obstacle to that dire message to the detriment of real people's lives.
10 years 1 month ago
The HONORING Obama was the thing.  Not that he is Black. 
Killing babies is wrong.  It seems that we all agree on that one.  So, yes, let's find a pretty way to get that point accross to the president.  Honor and Glory should do the trick.  That's it!  Let's all honor and glorify the president and he will be excluding abortion from health care reform in no time.  He will be advocating for unborn babies pretty soon...  I would personally kiss his feet if that would stop him from supporting abortion, I really would...  My question to Notre Dame: Was Obama your "30 pieces of silver"? Thank God for Bishop D'Arcy.
10 years 1 month ago
I didn't include my last name in my earlier post. This was sent to the Notre Dame Observer but not published. I think that it sumarizes very well the evil in Mr Quinn's and America Magazine's editorial team reasoning supporting ND's honoring of Obama.
A former atheist's take on the Obama travesty
As a recent revert to the Catholic faith, I have been following the travesty
pulled off by the Notre Dame administration with the Obama invite very
closely because it contains many of the elements that pushed me to 10 plus
year journey into agnosticism then atheism.  
I was born, raised and baptized a Catholic in Spain almost 35 years ago. My
journey away from the Catholic faith started in college, a public university
near my hometown, where I was introduced to an intellectual atmosphere that
despised belief in God, and particularly Catholic teachings. Amongst the
numerous reasons I was pointed out about how the Catholic faith was just a
invention created by the powerful elite were the numerous contradictions of
the Church through its history, from its being adopted by the Roman Empire
at the time of the emperor Constantine, to the selling of indulgences during
the Middle Ages to more recently its closely related links to dictatorial
regimes such as Francisco Franco's. While those who criticize the Catholic
Church in those terms quite often forget the extraordinary work done by the
Catholic clergy all around the world assisting the most needy in society,
it's nonetheless important to understand the effect that such criticism can
have in young minds such as those who will be attending this year's
commencement at Notre Dame to receive their well earned degrees.
Few teachings are more fundamental in Catholic doctrine than the evil of
abortion. Moreover, some of the strongest language that the Bible puts in
the mount of Jesus Christ can be found precisely to warn those who cause
children or young people to sin: Mark 9, 42 "Whoever causes one of these
little ones who believe (in me) to sin, it would be better for him if a
great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea."
How can the Notre Dame administration led by Father Jenkins invite Mr Obama
to give a commencement address in spite of such warning is a mystery to me.
Mr Obama is a declared pro abortionist who as recently as April 2009
reaffirmed his anti life stance. He eloquently described his radical views
in the Illinois senate in 2002 when he expressed his reason for voting
against that state's version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, a law
which would have required doctors to save the life of babies who survived
abortion procedures, "[A]dding a - an additional doctor who then has to be
called in an emergency situation to come in and make these assessments is
really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the
physician to induce labor and perform an abortion. . I think it's important
to understand that this issue ultimately is about abortion and not live
births."
Students, and young people at large, who are watching the Catholic
establishment at Notre Dame compromise one of the Church's most sacred
teachings for the sake of having Notre Dame's name associated with a popular
president will be automatically led, as I was, to question the veracity of
those teachings. When those young people begin to question the veracity of
the Church's teachings, they will be then led to question the authenticity
of the Church, Jesus Christ and whole idea of God. Put bluntly, the Notre
Dame administration, with his decision of inviting Mr Obama as a
commencement speaker, is inciting many young people around America to
question our faith's tenants.
My way back to belief, and Catholicism, was prompted two years ago by the
tragic death of two young friends of mine who died in unexpected
circumstances. After struggling with the whole issue of God for two years, I
decided that I could not let past and present travesties, such as the
current Notre Dame administration, to be an obstacle to the Gospel of our
Lord Jesus Christ. I began attending weekly Sunday mass during the summer of
2008. Approximately 1 month ago, I went through the sacrament of confession
and took communion for the first time in 15 years.
As somebody who was contaminated by the same type of hubris and arrogance
exhibited by Father Jenkins I can tell you that compromising the Church's
teachings will have its consequences in the lives of many of those attending
this year's commencement. The Notre Dame administration should do the right
thing and rescind the invitation to Mr Obama for he cannot be of any
inspiration to Notre Dame graduates as long as Notre Dame considers itself a
Catholic institution.
Saint Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, was very clear on how to
deal with idolaters such as the Notre Dame administration "I wrote you in my
letter not to associate with immoral people, not at all referring to the
immoral of this world or the greedy and robbers or idolaters; for you would
then have to leave the world. But I now write to you not to associate with
anyone named a brother, if he is immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer,
a drunkard, or a robber, not even to eat with such a person." During the
first century AD, the Church of Corinth was facing challenges which were no
less phenomenal in scope than those faced by our society today. The Notre
Dame administration has no excuse not to follow Saint Paul's instructions in
the case of the Obama travesty.
10 years 1 month ago
HOGWASH! With all due respect, HOGWASH! For the past 50 or 60 years the Irish Catholics have been in the pocket of the Democratic Party. Lucifer himself could have been running for office, and the majority of Irish Catholics and some Italian Catholics too, would vote for him as long as the "D" was behind the name. Who cares what he stood for, he was a democrate.
The other thing that Lucifer could be is PASTORAL! As long as he is PASTORAL he commits no evil! You could kill, rob, rape, or whatever, and be loved as long as you are PASTORAL many of the laity, priests and bishops would love you! HOGWASH AGAIN!!
Cardinal Biffi gave a Papal retreat on the Anti-Christ. He said people today are willing to accept the Anti-Christ because all they care about are feeding the poor at the expense of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ and his other teachings are forgotten.
 
10 years 1 month ago
The issue of condemnation would never have arisen had Notre Dame selected a speaker consonant with Catholic principles.
10 years 1 month ago
Thanks! Bishop Quinn.  Very good and important comments.  Your comments should be read in every catholic church and the Knights of Columbus and any other group who attempts to make abortion the sole doctrine of the Catholic Church. 
10 years 1 month ago
Outstanding article!  We need more bishops like John Quinn.  This article should be required reading for all bishops so that they can truly have a positive impact on our society and give hope and inspiration to the faithful.
10 years 1 month ago
Obama is a law professor. Considered an expert in Consitutional Law. He's given an honorary degree by a Christian school. Next time, give him a one-question exam, first:
"At what point does a baby get human rights?"
It is a legal question. Before you can recognize and respect the inalienable rights guaranteed in the US Constitution, you have to know to whom those rights are to be afforded. Immigrants, legal or illegal? Enemy combatants captured on the battlefield? Persons born of US citizens, for sure... but when do those rights come into effect?
Considering Obama's stringent defense of infanticide while a state senator in Illinois, he knows the question is a trap for him.
Its a legal question. When do human rights start? Who is entitled to human rights and who isn't? Who is better suited to answer that question than a law professor?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOTfnz11kBk
10 years ago
Why is it that we cannot criticize this president without it becoming a racist issue.  He is a man like any other who has presented a "culture of death" agenda.  To bring up racism is, as one other writer said, "is annoying" and used as a veil against speaking truths against this president.  Truth should be color, gender, age, blind.  This president has been and is a the very pro-choice president.  Abortion is genocide.  Abortion is beyond a civil rights issue or a social justice issue, protecting the most vulnerable who rely on another for protection to give them a voice is a Human Rights issue.  ..."grave danger that the false interpretation of human rights poses in not taking into account the reality of human nature, which can drive democratic regimes to transform themselves into totalitarian regimes." "The distinction sometimes made in certain official documents between a human being and a human person to then apply the right to life and physical integrity only to people who are already born is an artificial distinction without scientific or philosophical foundation," he said.  "Every human being, from his conception to his natural death, has the inviolable right to life and deserves all respect due to the human person," JPII.  "  By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems.  And by abortion, the fathe is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world.  That father is likely to put other women in the same trouble.  So abortion just lead to more abortion.  Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but use any violence to get what they want.  This why the greatest destoryer of love and peace is abortion." Mother Teresa         
10 years ago
Quinn offers his argument against the fervent opposition to Notre Dame's inviting Obama to give their commencement address and awarding him an honorary degree. In fact, opposition to Obama's being so honored was a matter of faithfulness to the Magisterial document "Catholics in Political Life". This document was approved for publication by the full body of bishops at their June 2004 General Meeting and can be found online at [url=http://www.usccb.org/bishops/catholicsinpoliticallife.shtml]http://www.usccb.org/bishops/catholicsinpoliticallife.shtml[/url].
In the direct context of abortion, the applicable portion of the document reads (emphasis in original): "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."
As Quinn himself notes in his article, "The case for sanctioning President Obama by declaring him ineligible to receive a Catholic university degree is rooted in a powerful truth: The president has supported virtually every proposed legal right to abortion in his public career..."
Therefore, Notre Dame, as a Catholic institution - indeed, as the flagship Catholic university in the United States - should not have honored Obama, in accordance with "Catholics in Political Life". This was a simple matter of Magisterial authority. Quinn goes on to make a case of prudential judgment in favor of Obama being honored, but this bears no more authority, magisterially, than his individual opinion, because of the document issued by the full body of bishops in 2004.
(Let us note at this point that, in an attempt to find "common ground", opponents of honoring Obama recommended he give the commencement address, but that he at least not be awarded an honorary degree...which was, quite literally, in contradiction to the statement of the bishops to not "honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles." This attempt to find common ground was ignored by the administration of Notre Dame, which persisted in giving him an honorary degree.)
For the sake of argument, we note that Quinn provides four points in favor of honoring Obama. They all are based on concern that non-Catholics would have, in ignorance of church teaching on abortion, misunderstood the action and taken away a negative perception of the Catholic Church. Whereas the concern of Catholics urging obedience to "Catholics in Public Life" was that faithful Catholics would be scandalized by seeing the nation's most prestigious Catholic University awarding a great honor to the most rabidly pro-abortion politician to ever hold federal office. I suppose our prudential judgment - again, for the sake of argument, since the Magisterial teaching takes precedence - would be whether Quinn's concern for non-Catholics misunderstanding the church is more or less critical than faithful Catholics being scandalized by the Church being completely hypocritical regarding its own statements of fidelity to Church teachings and to the truth of God that all human life is sacred.
As "Catholics in Public Life" states, "It is the teaching of the Catholic Church from the very beginning, founded on her understanding of her Lord’s own witness to the sacredness of human life, that the killing of an unborn child is always intrinsically evil and can never be justified." In Quinn's eyes, we should disavow that truth of God out of concern that non-Catholics might misperceive us as partisan or even racist.
Quinn quotes from his own preferred Magisterial document at the end of his article, Christus Dominus from Vatican II: "The Church has to be on speaking terms with the human society in which it lives. It is therefore the duty of bishops especially to make an approach to people, seeking and promoting dialog with them."
What Quinn overlooks is that a Commencement address is by its very nature not a dialog, but a monologue. Obama was not there to dialog on the issue of sanctity of life, but to give a speech, and to receive the award of an honorary degree. Dialog? Hardly. And it is one thing to approach people who do not share our views on the sanctity of human life...it is quite another to bestow upon them an honorary degree in violation of the Magisterial teaching of the Church.
9 years 12 months ago
It is this kind of never-ending, never-leading anywhere "dialogue" practiced by Archbishop Quinn and certain of his USCC/NCCB confreres (when it was the USCC/NCCB) that has led from a "Catholic" justice (William Brennan) signing Roe v. Wade to "Catholic politicians" (E.M. Kennedy, G. Ferraro, R. Drinan) voting for abortion to "Catholic" politicians (M. Cuomo) voicing justification for their failure to do anything about the Holocaust of 40,000,000+ Americans to a "Catholic" Speaker and a "Catholic" Vice President publicly committed to maintaining the status quo. Is there any idea that perhaps this velvet glove strategy, which has failed for 36 years, finally needs to be revised and toughened?
JOE GIGLIO MR
9 years 7 months ago

Only an oblivious white person could make a comment that race has nothing to do with this and that "most of us don't even think of race" when thinking of the President.  If you were black and grew up and lived through the deep racial divide in this country, you would re-think your stance.  African Americans took great pride in seeing history made. You can't hide or ignore being black in this country.

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