Lighting The Way Despite The Wayward

May 5, 2009 09:00 AM

Those faithful Catholics who are exposing the debacle at the University of Notre Dame are to be commended, and we are grateful for their courage, even in the face of opposition from fellow Catholics. American Life League's young leaders have experienced some of this firsthand in South Bend, but it has not deterred them. Many others, like us, who are also focused on this problem, have heard and seen more than could ever have been imagined, and not much of it is positive.

My favorite is the e-mail I received from a gentleman who said,

What do you suggest Catholics do, bury their heads in the sand, and only talk and listen to those who agree with us? Shall we build an invisible wall around us, similar to what China really did? This is what you seem to be advocating in light of the Obama Notre Dame thing. Remember Cardinal Egan ate at table with Obama at the Al Smith Dinner.


In responding to him, I explained that we Catholics are not ostriches; but we are people who believe that there is a time and a place to expose the horror of an abortion-supporting politician's views. Having said that, we do not think a graduation ceremony at an identifiably Catholic institution is the place for this to occur. Notre Dame could have invited the president to debate his views with a pro-life politician, or they could have hosted a town-hall lecture during which those students who know that abortion is an act of murder could have voiced their position and perhaps helped the president understand the error of his ways. But graduation?

While I am not sure what the Great Wall of China has to do with this, I certainly do recall the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner at which Cardinal Egan was photographed while apparently mesmerized by Obama. It is not my favorite photo of a prince of the Church; that's for sure. But as Deal Hudson wrote, "Obviously, Jesus dined with sinners and publicans – true. But he didn't give them a platform to preach to the faithful. That's the difference here."

Indeed, that is the difference and the specific reason why ALL is working with the Cardinal Newman Society and other like-minded organizations to expose this and press for even a last-minute cancellation of the invitation. But if that fails, then as our petition to Bishop D'Arcy of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, points out,


Any Catholic school that dissents from Catholic teaching to the degree that it would honor a man guilty of promoting an intrinsic evil of the magnitude of abortion has given up its Catholic identity and does not deserve to be listed in The Official Catholic Directory.

Notre Dame should be removed from the list of Catholic institutions, not only because its actions are discordant with the Catholic faith, but because it is scandalizing the very minds it is supposed to be molding and offering them – instead of Catholic truth – relativism, liberalism and a consistent pattern of behavior incompatible with Catholic teaching.


ALL is sponsoring an event this evening in South Bend at which we will focus on “the sins of Notre Dame." As ALL's leadership director, Michael Barnett, explains, “Notre Dame is placing the souls of millions in jeopardy in exchange for their own prestige. The school has no right to sell itself as Catholic to donors and potential students while simultaneously working to undermine the Church and honor the most pro-abortion president in the nation's history.”

In this instance, ALL is blessed to be in the company of, at last count, 59 Catholic bishops who are speaking out, decrying Obama’s commencement address and reception of an honorary degree, scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 17 on Notre Dame's campus. Bishop Michael Warfel, of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, Montana, said in a published letter he sent to Father John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame,


Notre Dame's decision is particularly disturbing because it seems to be one in a series of decisions. These decisions have sent a shamefully ambiguous message concerning Notre Dame's fidelity to the Church's teaching on the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. As an example of this, one does not need to look further than Notre Dame's decision last year to ignore Bishop D'Arcy's call to cancel the lewd "V-Monologues" with its mockery of Catholic teaching on human sexuality.

It is my intent not to support Catholic formation programs offered at Notre Dame until its leadership discontinues making decisions that are inconsistent with the promotion of the Catholic Church's teachings on the sacredness of human life.


We are so very grateful for these profound words and for the outpouring of similar sentiments from nearly 60 princes of the Catholic Church.

Sadly, however, the Notre Dame scandal, while the most egregious I have seen at a supposedly Catholic institution, is not unique. As a matter of fact, the Obama invitation is simply the most horrific example of the decaying respect for Catholic truth that appears to have infected more than a few Catholic campuses. As we go to press today, for example, we learn that the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit institution, is hosting South African Bishop Kevin Dowling, who has, according to a Cardinal Newman Society press release, "publicly criticized abstinence-only programs and supports condom use by those infected with or at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS."

Defiance has reared its ugly head in the Diocese of Scranton as well. Several months ago, Bishop Joseph Martino reprimanded U.S. Senator Robert Casey, a pro-abortion Catholic Democrat, for his position on abortion. In what is clearly an affront to Bishop Martino's directive, King's College, a supposedly Catholic college, invited Senator Casey to deliver the commencement address to its graduates.

Responding to this, the ever-courageous Bishop Martino said,

I do not believe he [Casey] has the moral stature to stand before the graduates of a Catholic college to address them about their futures and the challenges they will face when on the most important issue of the day—the sanctity of human life — he cannot muster the courage to oppose the pro-abortion agenda which is currently being promoted in Washington.


While some so-called Catholics stand up and shout that efforts to get Obama disinvited or have the University of Notre Dame removed from The Official Catholic Directory are tantamount to crawling into a bunker and hiding from the real world, thousands of believing Catholics are calling for an end to the madness. We're not buried in the mind warp of dissent and dislike for all things Catholic; we are simply sick and tired of business as usual. Rather than being ensconced in political correctness, those of us who decry the Notre Dame scandal and similar debacles do so because we love Christ; we love the Church, and we are ready to surrender our very lives in defense of the Church.

We recognize that the unfaithful current leaders of institutions such as the University of Notre Dame and the University of San Francisco actually represent wolves in sheep's clothing, prowling the highways and byways seeking out souls that can be misguided and misled, all in the name of academic freedom. In this conflict between Catholic truth and the "father of lies,"many of us are calling for an end to the madness. Concerned Catholics have a voice that is stronger than ever, and we are registering our opposition to not only the Obama event, but also to similar situations that have already occurred or may occur.

The Cardinal Newman Society has given thousands of faithful Catholics an opportunity to let their voices be heard, and this is undoubtedly why more than 352,000 Catholics have signed the online petition that can be found at http://notredamescandal.com/.

The mainstream media may not get it, and perhaps they never will. But that is truly irrelevant at this time of crisis in the Church. As long as Catholic bishops, national organizations like the Cardinal Newman Society, American Life League and media sources with integrity such as Life Site News are shining a light in the darkness, we need not fear, tremble or become discouraged. No bunkers for us! Pope Benedict XVI reminded us several years ago,


Life is not only given at the moment of death and not only in the manner of martyrdom. We must give it day by day. Day after day it is necessary to learn that I do not possess my life for myself. Day by day I must learn to abandon myself; to keep myself available for whatever he, the Lord, needs of me at a given moment, even if other things seem more appealing and more important to me: it means giving life, not taking it.

It is in this very way that we experience freedom: freedom from ourselves, the vastness of being. In this very way, by being useful, in being a person whom the world needs, our life becomes important and beautiful. Only those who give up their own life find it.

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