Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Talking Points on Notre Dame Scandal

The talking points have been released for for the Board of Trustees of Notre Dame regarding the Obama invite. I shall attempt to present them here with Emphasis and [comment]. (Source: Lifesite)

- 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.]
I need not say more.

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