Thursday, April 30, 2009
As all of my readers, I'm sure, are aware, Mary Ann Glendon has decided recently to refuse the Laetare Medal this year.
The actual medal has the inscription "Magna est veritas et prevalebit" which could be translated "Truth is mighty and shall prevail." How appropriate!
Professor Glendon has essentially said that she did not want to legitimize an otherwise wrong action. Originally she was going to accept the award, but the University has gone on to say that her presence makes it all okay. Of course, what they fail to realize is that it would be better to not have President Obama here in the first place.
[NOTE CHANGES BELOW!]
Father Jenkins had made it clear that he intended to offer the award to someone else. I can't see how this could have been a good thing. At this point, with the controversy as it is right now, finding a worthy candidate who will accept this award is going to be nigh on impossible. This may mean that the award will be given to someone who is a less worthy example than, say, Mary Ann Glendon would have been. And then, the argument of Fr. Jenkins, that "at least they'll get to hear from Prof. Glendon," will fall apart completely.
Just now I heard that they have decided not to give the Laetare medal this year, but rather ask a former recipient to speak instead. So, I ask, how is it possible that the relatively short tradition of having Presidents of the United States speak and receive honorary degrees has now trumped the much longer and more venerable tradition of awarding the Laetare medal?
We do know, as the medal proclaims, that Truth is mighty, and we have seen the end of the story, and we know that the Truth will prevail. Perhaps not today, perhaps not before commencement, but the Truth will prevail.
This is the lesson we must take from this whole controversy. Magna est veritas et prevalebit!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Let's be honest: all the hand wringing and justification for Fr. Jenkins' decision is just fluff. Despite the unprecedented tour de force of close to fifty US bishops objecting to this travesty, Fr. Jenkins's claim that his decision is "consistent" with the bishops' 2004 directive on speakers at Catholic colleges - simply because Barack Obama is not a Catholic - is, well, absurd on its face. No person in his right mind buys it.Stuff and fluff indeed. It's a good article and gets right to the point, not dancing around the issue in the way some have.
And that's the point - Notre Dame leadership is not "in its right mind" any more. The ones who made or endorsed this decision are not thinking with the mind of the Church let alone the Mind of Christ. This doesn't just apply to Fr. Jenkins either. It also applies to his superior, Fr. Hugh Cleary, who has an obligation to demand Jenkins' immediate resignation from his post to end this scandal but who chose instead to make a sappy, glowing, politically-correct statement which dares call this hurtful fiasco a "teachable moment."
No, Father Cleary - a "teachable moment" would be your removing Fr. Jenkins from office to show the world that the Church really means what she says in calling abortion an "abominable crime." (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 51)
As far as I am concerned, a thunder of judgment has just been shaken down on Notre Dame, its Board of Directors and any faculty, students or alumni who endorse the decision to bring Barack Obama to Notre Dame's campus to sully Our Lady's good name and our deepest loyalties.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
One point that Fr. Z didn't comment on:
Rather than share my full letter, which I have shared with some in church leadership, I prefer to present some of the key points.Perhaps the Council on Catholic Education has been notified.
You've got to love a statement that quotes canon law and Ex Corde Ecclesiae. I will be continuing to pray for Bishop D'Arcy, as I am sure he could use all the prayerful support he can get right now.
Monday, April 20, 2009
I can not remember when I was first introduced to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy or even the feast day. It was probably related to listening to Relevant Radio in college.
There are a few things I like about the divine mercy chaplet. It is simple, and quick. Whereas a rosary takes about 15 minutes, the divine mercy chaplet can be finished in about 5. I realize this is not the ideal motivation for prayer, but it is a legitimate one. At least that's what I tell myself. Second, the hour of mercy is 3:00, and usually I can find the 5 minutes it takes to pray it, if I remember. Finally, it is a very Eucharistic prayer. "Eternal Father, I offer you the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world." This begs to be said before the Blessed Sacrament.
Often, since I don't have class, I go to the place of adoration on campus either right at 3:00 or at least some time within the hour. I pray the Chaplet before Jesus in the Monstrance. I also like to pray the St. Michael prayer, and remember my intentions for the day. There are usually (though not always) what I would think are extra people in the chapel at 3:00 and I like to imagine that some of them are there for the same reason. It has become a staple in my daily prayer regimen and is a nice reminder in the middle of my day of the mercy of God.
In my first U.S. Bishops’ Conference meeting – June of 2004 – the bishops passed what seemed to me to be a compromise statement as a result of our lengthy debate on politicians and Communion. There we stated that pro-choice leaders (and specifically, Catholic leaders were mentioned) should not be given public platforms or honors. As we all know the eminent American Catholic University, Notre Dame, is poised to bestow such an opportunity and honor on President Obama, who is, of course, not Catholic. But it doesn’t take another Bishops’ Conference statement to know this is wrong: scandalous, discouraging and confusing to many Catholics.I am not as convinced that Fr. Jenkins will be fired over this. His superior doesn't see anything wrong with this. The trustees don't see anything wrong with this. Further, they don't seem to care that Bishops care. Would that the rancor be such that his job would be in jeopardy! I can agree on this point: Bishop D'Arcy would be a great replacement choice, and that would be seen by history as a turning point for this University.
God knows what all motivates such a decision. I suspect that, since Notre Dame will need a scapegoat for this debacle, and Fr. Jenkins will probably lose his job, at this point perhaps he ought to determine to lose it for doing something right instead of something wrong. He ought to disinvite the President, who I believe would graciously accept the decision. Notre Dame, instead, ought to give the honorary degree to Bishop John D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who has supported and tried to guide the University, despite their too frequent waywardness, faithfully for 25 years.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I can give a little background as far as I understand it. After the group formed, they were sent a letter from President Jenkins, suggesting a meeting to discuss the situation. In response, the group made a counter offer. Originally, President Jenkins wanted a closed meeting limited to 25 students. The counter offer, in a letter to Fr. Jenkins, contained the following preconditions for a meeting.
I would say that these requests go too far. ND Response knows that the University will not back down, if the demands of the Bishops of the Church will not change their minds, it's no doubt that a small group of students will not. To demand, as a precondition to discuss this issue at hand, the formation of an administrative position, and an official policy statement of the University seems out of line here. Perhaps they would have been good points for discussion in a meeting, but not as preconditions.
1. The University publicly makes the institutional and permanent promise that the University of Notre Dame will not engage in, promote or allow practices offensive to life (e.g., research involving human embryos in any way, including on biological materials derived from embryo- or fetal-destructive techniques on-campus, or off-campus in collaboration with others);
2. The University will formally support pro-life initiatives on campus through financial and personnel resources. In particular, that you will appoint a pro-life ombudsperson at the level of associate provost to ensure that appropriate attention is paid to life issues at the beginning of life in both teaching and research at the University of Notre Dame. The appointee should be a person who has a deep and demonstrated commitment to the cause of unborn life.
Additionally, we hope that you will consider the following ways in which the University can take up the cause of life as its own by publicly speaking out against the injustices against the unborn: through the “What Would You Fight For?” commercials aired on NBC during football season, by leading the Notre Dame students in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., by designating the topic of next fall’s forum as a celebration of life in its earliest stages, and by speaking out in other prominent forums.
You are a teacher, and we are students. Therefore, if these proposals are acceptable to you, we would like to meet in a setting that is comfortable for both of us, such as a classroom. We would suggest the McKenna Hall Auditorium or the Jordan Auditorium of the Mendoza School of Business. We anticipate that this meeting will be exclusively with the students of ND Response and select faculty and staff who support us. To this end, there will be more than 25 people at this meeting. We can guarantee that the number of students that will speak or engage with you will be limited to less than ten. The content of this meeting will be available to the public following its event in the form of a transcript and live video recording: True dialogue only comes with accountability.
The request for a larger group seems reasonable, as the size of ND Response is quite large, and ensuring that the number of student speakers is limited to 10 seems like a reasonable request. I also think that one way or another the meeting should be made public, even if only through the release of a transcript. In this way, interested students (such as myself) who might be unable to attend this meeting, especially if a compromise were reached which limited the number of attendees, would still be able to see what happened as it happened, not in the form of press releases from each side.
The response from President Jenkins, needless to say, was in the negative. I first saw this yesterday on Lifesite, and it has since hit some other news services. I will be working from the official ND Response press release.
This, I believe, is a misrepresentation of the facts. The request for dialogue could have been originated by ND Response, in a sense, by their very formation, and their initial statements, though, as far as I know, Fr. Jenkins made the first concrete effort, naming a place and time, and listing preconditions. By responding with the conditions they did, ND Response, in a sense, denied the request for dialogue. By making what I see as unreasonable demands, Fr. Jenkins, probably rightly so, shut down the negotiations for dialogue, which he was, at one point open to. Compare that to their headline "University of Notre Dame President Rejects Students' Requests for Dialogue". At best, he rejected the preconditions for dialogue.
In a private letter addressed to a coalition of 12 campus groups and organizations, University of Notre Dame president, Fr. John I. Jenkins, CSC, denied students' requests for dialogue on the issues surrounding the University's invitation to and honoring of President Barack Obama at this year's commencement exercises. Responding to a letter sent to him by representatives of the ND Response coalition on April 7th, the University's president wrote that "conditions for constructive dialogue simply do not exist" and that students could disregard his earlier invitations to meet with him.
In their original letter to Fr. Jenkins, the student leaders of ND Response confirmed their interest in discussing their concerns with the University's president but acknowledged their hesitancy to accept the parameters of a meeting he outlined in an email to ND Response on March 27th. Citing that President Jenkins' offer of holding a closed-door meeting to 25 members of the coalition was not an adequate option, ND Response leaders requested that a meeting be held in one of the largest classrooms on campus and opened to all members of the groups in the coalition. In addition to this request, the students also asked that the University affirm its "commitment to defending human life in its most vulnerable stages" before President Jenkins sat down to speak with students. In particular, the students requested both that the University publicly declare that it would never engage in or collaborate with research involving human embryos or fetal tissue obtained through destructive techniques and that the University appoint a "pro-life ombudsman" to ensure that proper attention is paid to life issues in both Notre Dame's teaching and research. "These requests," ND Response spokeswoman Mary Daly said, "were intended to lead the University into making gestures of good-will that would facilitate our productive discussion and demonstrate President Jenkins' genuine interest in transparent dialogue."
Although his letter indicates that President Jenkins urges the students to "disregard the invitation to meet," Daly says that "ND Response remains open to true and transparent dialogue with Fr. Jenkins on this issue."
There is a well-reasoned analysis here, though I may disagree on a couple details, he has done a good, and I think fair, job.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Archbishop John R. Quinn is the retired emeritus Archbishop of San Francisco. From what I can tell, he retired under fire at the relatively young age of 66, in the time of the priest sex abuse crisis. He was a diocesan priest of San Diego before being consecrated a Bishop. He wrote recently in the Jesuit periodical America: (with my emphasis and [comment]) (s0urce)
"What if the president is forced to back out of his appearance at Notre Dame either because he withdraws or the university withdraws its invitation?" asked Quinn. "If this happens, will that further the pro-life effort in our country?" [I think the answer might be yes. The better question might be: would it further the effort if the premier Catholic university ignores the bishops and invites the most idealogically pro-abortion President ever?]
The archbishop emeritus also wondered, "If the president is forced to withdraw, will that bring about fewer abortions in the United States?"[As if the pro-life movement was a numbers game. Would it be better for the country to halve the number of abortions, but still pay for them with public funds? Of course, this is the arguement that people made at election time, that the truly pro-life people should support Obama because he will address the reasons people seek abortion, thereby lowering the numbers, nevermind that this hasn't ever panned out in the past.]
Quinn also questioned whether a turnaround would be received as a way to "link the church with racist and other extremist elements in our country." [??? Could anyone be convinced that if, after all this fallout, it was a racial issue? Or does he mean that pro-lifers are extremist terrorists?]
"Will the banishment of the first African-American president from Catholic university campuses be seen as grossly insensitive to the heritage of racial hatred which has burdened our country for far too long?" he mused.
"We must step back and consider the limitations - prudential, moral and political - on the role of bishops in public issues," wrote Quinn. "We must weigh very seriously the consequences if the American bishops are seen as the agents of the public embarrassment of the newly elected president by forcing him to withdraw from an appearance at a distinguished Catholic university." [OR, get this, Bishops could teach! In season and out, that's what Bishop D'Arcy said, choose truth before prestige. And, Ex Corde Ecclesiae definately applies, and it says the Bishops have a special duty to ensure the Catholic identity of a Catholic university.]
The Archbishop also expressed confidence in Obama's character. "The president has given ample evidence that he is a man of good will, of keen intelligence, desirous of listening and capable of weighing seriously other views," he wrote. [Because seeking the removal of conscience protections fits that description.]
It would seem that Fr. Jenkins is looking for any out he can find. It has been reported that Fr. Jenkins is now trying to hide behind some canonical technicalities.
Canonist Ed Peters discusses this comment as well.
The 2004 document was clearly adopted by the Bishops as provisional. As the document says, "[h]aving received an extensive report from the Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, and looking forward to the full report, we highlight several points from the interim report that suggest some directions for our efforts...." Nevertheless, despite its provisional character, this document has been used by all the people at Notre Dame who recommend speakers for commencement or others for honorary degrees since its publication. We have tried to follow both the letter and the spirit of its recommendations.
Two key sentences of the document have been frequently quoted regarding the invitation to President Obama:
"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."
Because the title of the document is "Catholics in Political Life", we understood this to refer to honoring Catholics whose actions are not in accord with our moral principles. This interpretation was supported by canon lawyers we consulted, who advised us that, by definition, only Catholics who implicitly recognize the authority of Church teaching can act in "defiance" of it. Moreover, fellow university presidents have told me that their bishops have told them that in fact it is only Catholic politicians who are referred to in this document.
In addition, regardless of how one interprets the first sentence, the second is also important. It reads: "They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions. [My italics]" In every statement I have made about the invitation of President Obama and in every statement I will make, I express our disagreement with him on issues surrounding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research. If we repeatedly and clearly state that we do not support the President on these issues, we cannot be understood to "suggest support".
But speaking of words, Jenkins' unnamed canon lawyers (assuming, by the way, that they were answering the question Jenkins thought he was asking, and that Jenkins understood and is accurately conveying their response) tell him that "by definition, only Catholics who implicitly recognize the authority of Church teaching can act in 'defiance' of it." Huh?He goes on to suggest that the solution to the problem would be for the school to declare itself no longer Catholic, then the Bishops wouldn't have any complaints. Recall also that Bishop D'Arcy said in his interview recently
What's this "by definition" stuff? What definition? A definition of "defiance"? The word "defiance" is not in the Code. Even the Latin pertinacia does not seem to apply to our facts, so, what exactly is Jenkins talking about here? I don't know, but whatever Jenkins or his canonists hope it means, the sentence he/they put so much stock in was obviously not drafted to stand up to close textual parsing. Else, all a Catholic would have to do to avoid the charge of acting in "defiance" of Church authority would be to decline recognizing Church authority in the first place!
Likewise, watch how Jenkin's claim that bestowing an honorary doctorate on the pro-abortion movement's most powerful politician ever does not "suggest support" for the politician's pro-abortion record, can be parsed into a defense of Jenkins: an honorary doctorate of law does not "suggest" support for a politicians' legal philosophy, no, instead it screams it. Therefore, Jenkins is not guilty of "suggesting" support. Aren't word games fun?
They are saying in their correspondence, that that only applied to Catholics, and that it was only a provisionary document. The person who can interpret when there is a difference on a Canonical matter is the local Bishop, but they never asked my opinion as to whether this document applied or did not apply.Basically, this whole thing feels like an attempt to get out of a scandal by technicality. Do you think that St. Peter at the gates to heaven will see it the same way.
It also brings up a number of questions. If this was something done, or thought about ahead of time, why did it take this long to get out? Isn't it more plausible that this was a reactionary step? Also, what sort of canon lawyers did they find to come up with the interpretation they did, after all, the Bishops, who crafted this document, have been quite clear about that they intended. At this point, I think that anything Fr. Jenkins will say, short of canceling the invitation, will just seem like a child making excuses.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Without any formality, the Priest (a 92-year-old Franciscan) entered from the sacristy with his servers. The liturgy starts with just an opening prayer. John's passion is used every year (unlike on Palm Sunday, which uses the gospel of the year.) Then the Church prays in a special way for basically everyone. I like to remember those whom I know who fit into the various categories, especially those who do not know Christ, and those who do not believe in God.
Then there is the veneration of the cross. They did not have a relic of the True Cross, but I still like the tradition. I have been to places where it is uncommon to kiss the cross, where people may bow or something before it, but that was not the case here.
This is the only day of the year where Mass is not celebrated. Luckily we consecrated enough Eucharist on Thursday!
And then it's over, just a prayer, and we're done.
Tomorrow there are no liturgies until after sunset.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Holy Thursday has become one of my favorite days of the liturgical year. After my return to the Faith, I was invited to participate in a Holy Thursday tradition I was not familiar with. To be honest, I probably didn't even know what the Holy Thursday liturgy contained at that point. The tradition was to visit 7 churches on Holy Thursday, while the Blessed Sacrament was at the altar of repose. It was a wonderful tradition, Church hopping. A couple friends and one professor went every year that we were in Chicago.
This year, being on my own, I observed this tradition alone. None of my friends or acquaintances wanted to join me on this journey; some didn't care to go to mass, and the others preferred to go to the Basilica mass. I went to a parish mass, which was good except for the women who got their feet washed. I then proceeded to 7 other Churches, prayed to Jesus all around the town. The last place I ended up was the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus.
I showed up at 11:00 PM, the starting time listed for Tenebrae. I have been to Tenebrae services before, at St. John Cantius in Chicago, and the Church then was far from full. There was only standing room in the Basilica, and precious little of that. I stood in the back. It was beautifully done, the singing was wonderful. My previous experience, however, had the entire congregation chanting, led by the religious in choir, separated by left and right side. I liked that, and would have liked involving the congregation more, in that sense. At the end of the service, it was a wonderful experience. The lights were put out, and all that I could see was the single lit candle, and silence was nearly complete. When they closed the door to the vestibule the place erupted in noise, and as soon as the light was visible again, that same silence.
Holy Thursday is the start of the Pascal Triduum. It technically does not end, there is no closing rite, the Eucharist is simply taken to the place of repose, and people leave when they do. Good Friday starts without a formal rite and ends in the same way. Saturday again starts with the blessing of the fire and the procession in, but there is a concrete end to the vigil mass. In a sense, I like to think of the whole Triduum as one service, with Holy Thursday essentially being the beginning of the Easter Vigil.
Happy Triduum to all!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
What, Bishop, is your role at the Notre Dame graduation?
I always go and I’m going this year to the Mass, which is the day ahead, Saturday, and the only other time that I didn’t go to a Notre Dame Graduation was when senator Moynihan received the Laetare medal, because of his pro-choice position, and even then I went to the mass. When I attend the mass, the President is the celebrant, but I attend, and then I speak at the end of mass, a little bit about a Catholic University devoted to Faith and Reason, kind of an informal talk, and I will do that. But at the graduation, as such, I usually just sit there in my robes, the choir robes that a Bishop wears, and I go to the Lunch and I’m on the platform, so those are the things I won’t do.
Okay, were you anticipating this, because of the tradition of inviting new Presidents?
No. I probably should have been. I got a call at a funeral in Decatur. I was driving forth a few weeks ago, and the call came that Fr. Jenkins wanted to talk to me. It was 3:00 PM by the time we connected, and I was trying to find out when the White House press briefing is, and maybe you know that?
I don’t, 10 AM or something.
If it was 10:00 AM, then I wasn’t called until after it was announced. That, I didn’t think was very respectful. I did not anticipate it, I did not know why he was calling, we do have contact from time to time, and I probably should have been. I do recall that President Clinton did not speak for whatever reason. Someone told me recently that he was invited, but couldn’t make it or something. I did not anticipate this, I did not, and I was kind of stunned.
Yeah, what was your initial reaction?
Well my initial reaction was, well, on the one hand to get the President is a feat for any University, but I told Fr. Jenkins right away I probably won’t come, I think I remember saying I’m about 60/40 that I won’t come. I said I’m a Bishop I have to teach. He said he was going to put out a statement indicating that this did not mean that they supported the President’s positions on embryonic stem cells or on the Life issues that he would put out a statement illustrating that. And, he also told me that Mary Ann Glendon was going to get the Laetare Medal, which is an award given to a Catholic, and considered by Notre Dame its highest honor. So I said she might pull out. And he said, well, he had communicated with her by e-mail and she did say to him, I’ll have to rewrite my talk. She and I conferred a few days later, we spoke and I urged her to come.
And so that kind of gets to my next question: Were you hoping to influence anyone else, or was this just a personal decision for you?
I did not expect to influence Notre Dame. I remember speaking to them at the time of the Moynihan appointment, and Fr. Malloy was most understanding of my position, but he said they could not withdraw the invitation. I was thinking more what was the right thing as a Bishop. I did know that there would be a tremendous outpouring, and I told that to John, I said this is going to be wild, to Fr. Jenkins. I was trying to search my own heart for the right thing to do.
And what are some of the things you thought about?
I think, as Pope John Paul II said, if you speak about the right to a job, the right to human rights, the right to be treated with dignity, none of those rights exist without the right to life. And the President, who I respect and everything, there were three or four things in a row: The Mexico City policy, there was also the promise in the campaign, at least in the primary campaign, to push FOCA, the freedom of choice act, which would do away with so many of the limitations that were put against attacking unborn life, also the embryonic stem cells and then the freedom of conscience. All four things, and a week later Notre Dame invites him, so I just felt that my position, if I’m up there, on the platform, it must be okay. It’s saying to the young people “well it’s okay, it really doesn’t matter.” And so there was no way I could. I had that decision within a half hour. Then the question was should I wait, which I did with Moynihan, should I wait until near the graduation, but then I sensed pretty quickly that I better get this out there right away. My anxiety now is for Notre Dame, that they are sort of a Catholic Icon, well, you might say for many religious people, other Christians, they’re kind of an icon. Dean Wenthe of Concordia got his doctorate at Notre Dame, a congressman got his Master’s at Notre Dame, and so forth, Condaleeza Rice, so many people who are not Catholics have great affection for the place. So, I just felt that my position was to teach; that a Bishop teaches by his words, but also by his actions, and I didn’t want to say anything else. And then, we’ve gotten over 3000 emails and letters here, and my assistant tells me they’re coming in every day. My fear is that Notre Dame has alienated itself from the Catholic Community, from the Bishops, many Bishops are writing, from ordinary Catholic people, with so many people that are parents or alumni, and that’s what troubles me. I don’t think most people would have a problem if he was invited to speak at the university in a symposium on health hare, a national issue, foreign affairs, the question of Iraq, and those things. The university should do those things, there needs to be diverse opinions, but this is giving a Doctor of Laws to a person who’s only experience with laws in the state legislature and here, has been anti-life laws. And Notre Dame is honoring him with a Doctor of Laws, and speaking to the graduates, so to give him that honor, that’s why I said, “Have they chosen Prestige over Truth?”
And he’s not just a person who’s beliefs run contrary, he’s actually, as you said, actually made laws, made US Policy. He’s in that position to make a difference.
Now the US Council of Catholic Bishops, I believe, did make a statement with regard to Catholic institutions honoring people, do you think there should be any consequence to Notre Dame for this, or would you rather not see that?
I think that issue has to be discussed with Notre Dame. They are saying in their correspondence, that that only applied to Catholics, and that it was only a provisionary document. The person who can interpret when there is a difference on a Canonical matter is the local Bishop, but they never asked my opinion as to whether this document applied or did not apply. I’m not in favor of overreacting, of any penalty or anything like that. No, I think dialog is the way to talk about it here. I will be meeting with Fr. Jenkins. Cardinal George, who is the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop of Chicago, I think he intends to meet with him. Many are calling for that sort of thing, but I don’t think that helps, no.
What about your relationship with Fr. Jenkins? Does he understand your position? Has he been understanding about this?
Uh, we’ll see. I’ll be seeing him soon. I think he…I don’t know if he understands my position. I told him when he called, that we must continue our relationship, that that’s important between a Bishop. Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which is a document on Catholic Universities and the bishops, calls for that, for mutual respect. I think he minds it, but I think he’s troubled by it, and I don’t think he’s really eager to talk about it too much.
That will be an interesting conversation I’m sure.
Some of our viewers have wondered about your attendance at the ceremony when George W. Bush was there, and to the issue of Capital Punishment, and have said how is this different?
Well, So that must refer to George W. Bush when he was Governor of Texas.
Yes, because he authorized several death sentences.
Many, yes. The Catholic Church’s position is that the taking of a life in the womb is an intrinsically evil act. It doesn’t say that about the death penalty. A good Catholic could disagree with the Church on the death penalty. Now Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae, which is the Gospel of Life, and later it’s in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, said today we should protect society by bloodless means because we can do that with the penal system. We can keep people out of society who are dangerous, so we should do that. But, you could differ on that and still be a good Catholic. But the direct attack on life in the womb is intrinsically evil, can never be accepted, can never be permitted, or anything of that nature. And so, I agree with Pope John Paul II and present church thrust that we should protect life by lifetime imprisonment and things like that. But there’s a difference between those two issues, as there is a difference between the Iraq war, I did not agree with the Iraq war, but a person of good will, a good Catholic, could disagree on that, and reach a different conclusion. This is something that always binds, a direct attack on an unborn child.
Innocent life, right? Isn’t that how you put it in your statement?
And the other question everyone has been asking as they write in: what was Notre Dame thinking? Any guesses?
[Laughter] Well, you’d have to ask Father Jenkins. He hasn’t been available has he? Have you tried?
Did Father Jenkins make the decision? Is it his decision?
I think so, from what I hear, I’m sure, I would think, some members of the board of trustees might have been sought for their opinion, probably others. I don’t know whether or not he took into account the position of the Church, but I was not consulted. As far as I know no Bishops were consulted. Nor did he have to consult us, but I think it would have been better had he done this. I think what I put in my statement was for them to ask the question: have they put prestige over Truth, prestige over the Truth about human life, and that’s the question for a Catholic University. As I said before, if he’d came for a seminar even on this issue, or on health care or something like that, that’s what a University should be doing. But to honor someone Doctorate of Laws and the only laws he’s made are laws which are against innocent life. So, I think Notre Dame wishes to be a very significant University in the public order, and it is, and I think that’s what must have driven the decision.
What is the one message that you would like to convey with this decision not to attend? What is the one thing you want people to understand about your decision?
To be at those graduations, the Mass the day before, all the young people that are there, all the parents that are there, and their friends who are there, and they are graduating from this splendid University. How beautiful is life? You’re a parent. How beautiful is life? And they’ll go out to world, and fall in love, they’ll have children, they’ll have grandchildren, they’ll have families. No one is allowed to say who’s going to sit at the table of life, and more important, who’s not going to sit at the table of life. God didn’t give us that privilege, he gave us many other privileges, who we choose for a spouse, whether to become a priest. He gave us a lot of freedom. He didn’t give us that freedom. That belongs to him alone. That’s what I want to somehow convey. This is so central. There’s no other right unless you have the right to life, and a Catholic University should support that 100%. It doesn’t mean you couldn’t have a discussion of it on campus, but the University should always support it.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
On to the story at hand. A local news outlet has interviewed Bishop D'Arcy of Ft. Wayne/South Bend regarding the decision to invite President Obama to speak and to receive an honorary degree. The interview can be found here (it is quite a large download). Unfortunately they have not provided a transcript, but I will discuss some of the salient points. Lifesite also has a summary of the interview.
I shall include some salient points here with emphasis and [commentary], and hopefully produce a full transcript for posting later without commentary.
Were you anticipating this, because of the tradition of inviting new Presidents?
No. I probably should have been. [Unfortunately.] I got a call at a funeral in Decatur. I was driving forth a few weeks ago, and the call came that Fr. Jenkins wanted to talk to me. It was 3:00 PM [This is about the same time I found out as well] by the time we connected, and, I was trying to find out when the White House press briefing is, and maybe you know that?
I don’t, 10 AM or something.
If it was 10:00 AM, then I wasn’t called until after it was announced. That, I didn’t think was very respectful. I did not anticipate it, I did not know why he was calling, we do have contact from time to time, and I probably should have been. I do recall that President Clinton did not speak for whatever reason. Someone told me recently that he was invited, but couldn’t make it or something. I did not anticipate this, I did not, and I was kind of stunned. [Glad I'm not alone.]
Yeah, what was your initial reaction?
Well my initial reaction was, well, on the one hand to get the President is a feat for any University, but I told Fr. Jenkins right away I probably won’t come, I think I remember saying I’m about 60/40 that I won’t come. I said I’m a Bishop I have to teach. He said he was going to put out a statement indicating that this did not mean that they supported the President’s positions on embryonic stem cells or on the Life issues that he would put out a statement illustrating that. And, he also told me that Mary Ann Glendon was going to get the Laetare Medal, which is an award given to a Catholic, and considered by Notre Dame its highest honor. So I said she might pull out. [Yep] And he said, well, he had communicated with her by e-mail and she did say to him, I’ll have to rewrite my talk. [Good! She may have some great stuff to say!] She and I conferred a few days later, we spoke and I urged her to come.
And so that kind of gets to my next question: Were you hoping to influence anyone else, or was this just a personal decision for you?
I did not expect to influence Notre Dame. I remember speaking to them at the time of the Moynihan appointment, and Fr. Malloy was most understanding of my position, but he said they could not withdraw the invitation. I was thinking more what was the right thing as a Bishop. I did know that there would be a tremendous outpouring, and I told that to John, I said this is going to be wild, [WILD!] to Fr. Jenkins. I was trying to search my own heart for the right thing to do.
What is the one message that you would like to convey with this decision not to attend? What is the one thing you want people to understand about your decision?
To be at those graduations, the Mass the day before, all the young people that are there, all the parents that are there, and their friends who are there, and they are graduating from this splendid University. How beautiful is life? [Really beautiful, probably the greatest gift we received from God] You’re a parent. How beautiful is life? And they’ll go out to world, and fall in love, they’ll have children, they’ll have grandchildren, they’ll have families. No one is allowed to say who’s going to sit at the table of life, and more important, who’s not going to sit at the table of life. God didn’t give us that privilege, he gave us many other privileges, who we choose for a spouse, whether to become a priest. He gave us a lot of freedom. He didn’t give us that freedom. That belongs to him alone. That’s what I want to somehow convey. This is so central. There’s no other right unless you have the right to life, and a Catholic University should support that 100%. It doesn’t mean you couldn’t have a discussion of it on campus, but the University should always support it.
He also asked twice if they chose Prestige before Truth.
I have made reference to this section of Prof. Freddoso's speech numerous times already, so I will include it here:
Make no mistake. This protest has to do with President Obama’s actions and with hisThe issue is that objectively President Obama has acted in opposition to morality, and the Bishops have stated that those who do this should not be honored by a Catholic school. This describes the scandal of Notre Dame much better than I could.
intentions regarding future actions, and not merely with his beliefs.
Now, of course, the administrators of the university do not “condone or endorse his
positions”—or, presumably, his actions—“on specific issues regarding the protection of
human life.” And, to be sure, it is permissible to honor someone despite the bad
things he’s done, as long as those bad things are “not all THAT bad.” So let’s look at
a few of the actions that the administrators of the university consider to be “not all
President Obama has overturned the Mexico City Policy that had prohibited taxpayer
money from going to groups that promote or perform abortions in other nations. This
is bad, the administrators of the university admit, but it’s not all THAT bad.
President Obama has, in Michael Gerson’s words, “signaled that he will overturn [the
previous president’s] executive order protecting health workers from firing and
discrimination if they refuse to perform actions they consider morally objectionable.”
This is bad, the administrators of the university admit, but it’s not all THAT bad.
President Obama has lifted the previous president’s already weak-kneed restrictions
on the use of taxpayer money for embryo-destructive stem cell research—which
research, by the way, unlike non-destructive stem cell research, has yet to result in
curing anyone of any disease. This is bad, the administrators of the university admit,
but it’s not all THAT bad.
President Obama has nominated an enthusiastically pro-abortion Catholic to become
Secretary of Health and Human Services, the department that oversees the medical
profession along with other human services. This is bad, the administrators of the
university admit, but it’s not all THAT bad.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I need not say more.
- Presidents from both parties have come to Notre Dame for decades [as if it were a big-T Tradition] to speak to our graduates. Barack Obama will be the sixth President to speak at commencement, and the ninth to receive an honorary degree from the University. [This point combines two problems in argument, first is the "we've done it before so it must be good" point, which is clearly not the case. Not every president was as gung-ho pro-abortion as Obama. Second, it makes it out to be a political issue, as if party affiliation made or broke one's qualification to be honored by a Catholic school.]
- It's a rare thing to be able to offer your graduates a commencement address from one of the most influential figures in the world - especially as they're entering that world hoping to make it better. [Better for whom? The unborn? This point fails the Hitler test I laid out before. If the arguments fail to rule out a figure such as Hitler, they are deficient arguments.]
- We think a visit from the President will help inspire our graduates to be active citizens - whether they agree with his politics or not. [So, perhaps would a visit from a solid Catholic Pro-Life Democrat. Also a visit from a terrible person could spur graduates into action.]
- We knew there would be some controversy over this choice. Frankly, I was impressed [I was saddened and disappointed.] that Fr. Jenkins invited him; he's facing some criticism for this. And I admire President Obama for accepting. It shows he respects his audience. [But he doesn't, at least not their consciences.]
- But there shouldn't be any confusion about the honorary degree. We're honoring him as the sitting president of the United States...for his historic election, for fighting poverty, expanding health care, improving schools, seeking peace, breaking barriers of race. [You can't honor the man in part. The school is saying, by this honor, that although the many things he supports and has already done, gay marriage, abortion, embryonic stem cells, etc., are bad, they really aren't that bad. Not bad enough for him to be honored by a Catholic school, and so perhaps not bad enough for a Catholic to support either. That's scandal, my friends.]
- These issues are dear to the heart of Catholics and the president has elevated them, and we honor that. [The issues I mentioned above are held dear, unfortunately, to the hearts of many Catholics as well. This is why it confuses the authentic teaching of the Church.]
- We are aware of the discussion surrounding the bishops' document, Catholics in Political Life. The University took this document into full consideration. We believe it allows those non-Catholics to be invited to give their views on important issues. [But the Bishop's disagree, they wrote it and they can authentically interpret it. I posted this regarding Bishop D'Arcy's statement, and many (almost 20 now) Bishops have made this clear in those references.]
-We have said from the start, that this invitation does not mean we agree with all positions the President has taken. We do not condone the President's positions on abortion and embryonic stem cell research. We have crucial differences with him on issues of protecting human life. Fr. Jenkins made that clear.
- Butt [sic] that doesn't mean we shouldn't invite him to Notre Dame. We can never change the President's views unless he listens to us. And how can we expect him to listen to us if we won't listen to him? [Only those we honor can change? Also, this fails the Hitler test.]
- And President Obama won't be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal. [Perhaps I'm wrong, but didn't Obama fire her, and is now unable to find a replacement?]- We think having the President come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the President and for the causes we care about. [The Bishops disagree.]
For the first time in eight years, Notre Dame students will not perform "The Vagina Monologues" at an on- or off-campus location.This is good news. I wish that Fr. Jenkins would have told them no, but either way, they will not be happening. It is not so important that it has become some sort of tradition that can't be violated (like apparently the honoring of American Presidents no matter their stand.) If the V-Monologues take a rest, perhaps they will never wake up.
Junior Miriam Olsen, a producer of last year's show, said the group of students in charge of organizing the production of "The Vagina Monologues" this year decided not to continue the show.
"We were not forbidden by the University to do the Monologues and we didn't give up fighting," she said.
"What happened was that I, and some other people who have been involved in the past, feel like the "Monologues" are an amazing piece that talks about women's sexuality that can be very productive for Notre Dame students," she said. "But unfortunately, what happens when the "Monologues" are put on, is they turn into more of a scandal than an action piece." [I had to read that line twice. The V-Monologues cause scandal, says producer. Maybe the whole Obama debate has had a positive impact after all, people are rediscovering the sin of scandal. Or perhaps she is just using a different meaning of the word scandal.]
After the first showing in 2002, the "Monologues" became an annual fixture at Notre Dame until 2007, when student organizers could not find an academic department at the University to sponsor the performance, The Observer reported.
The first showing of the Monologues off-campus was then performed at South Bend's First Unitarian Church on Feb. 28, 2007. [It is good to hear they couldn't even find a trinitarian location for this, I guess.]
University President Fr. John Jenkins allowed the production to be shown on campus in 2008, as long as an academic panel discussion followed each performance - a decision that was criticized by Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop John D'Arcy and several other Catholic leaders and organizations.
[Junior Will Haley] said he believes the controversy that surrounds the "Monologues" every year entices students to attend and participate in the show. Letting the controversy rest for a year could benefit the show. [Or maybe it will just die off. We can hope in Our Lady, spes nostra.]
"If the word vagina wasn't in the title, I don't think anyone would take notice of it," [except, maybe, for the content.] he said. "It's the fact that it's not allowed to happen that pushes people to strive to put it on." [This may be partly true.]
Sancta Maria, Spes Nostra, Sedes Sapientiae, Ora Pro Nobis!
Sunday, April 5, 2009
The speakers focused primarily on the reasons why President Obama ought not be honored by a Catholic school. I wish the focus was on the Bishops, especially some of Bishop D'Arcy's statements in the recent years, and specifically on the 2004 statement of the USCCB stating that Catholic Universities were not to honor those who were opposed to fundamental moral principles.
This, really, is the point, and the crux of the matter to me. It need not be our place to evaulate the morality of the actions of President Obama, or anyone, this is the job of the Bishops. The Bishops have clearly spoken on the issue, and rightly condemned some of President Obama's actions, especially with regards to abortion and embryonic stem cell research. They have also decided it prudent and just that honors are not to be given out by Catholic schools to those who support positions that are fundamentally flawed morally, so as not to cause scandal, or encourage those people in their sins. One of the speakers today made a point that these fundamentally immoral positions, by the action of the administration of the University, are seen as "bad, but not that bad."
Ultimately the problem is a lack of obedience. The bishops have made it perfectly clear that: (1) politicians who support fundamentally immoral and unjust laws should not be honored by Catholic schools, and (2) President Obama's positions on Abortion and Embryonic stem cell research are fundamentally immoral. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the invitation was wrongly given. But, since Land O' Lakes, Catholic Universities are above their Bishops, despite the canonical declaration otherwise in Ex Corde Ecclesiae.