It's really interesting to witness the ongoing struggle between orthodoxy and malevolence surrounding the University of Notre Dame's invitation to President Barack Obama. The very idea that a Catholic university would honor the world's leading abortion advocate is oxymoronic on its face.
Lining up as supporters of the invitation are such luminaries as Cardinal Francis George, who on the one hand encouraged people to protest the outrage but on the other hand claims that Notre Dame really did not know what it meant to be Catholic:
Cardinal George exhorted the group of Catholics he was speaking with to keep the pressure on Notre Dame, calling on them to "do what you are supposed to be doing: to call, to e-mail, to write letters, to express what's in your heart about this: the embarrassment, the difficulties."
But the cardinal warned that he did not expect Notre Dame to cancel an invitation to the president of the United States, because "you just don't do that."
Etiquette apparently trumps Catholic teaching. Is that what it means to be Catholic?
Retired Archbishop John Quinn wrote in America
If the president is forced to withdraw, how will that fact be used? Will it be used to link the church with racist and other extremist elements in our country? 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? Will it be used to paint the bishops as supporters of one political party over another? Will this action be seen as proof that the bishops of the United States do not sincerely seek dialogue on major policy questions, but only acquiescence?
These questions are not negligible. Cardinal James Gibbons, when he received the "Red Hat," in a memorable sermon at the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere strongly praised the tremendous benefit that came to the church in our country because of the separation of church and state.
Perhaps the archbishop has forgotten about Cardinal James Gibbons and his response to Pope Leo XIII who, in 1899 condemned Americanism as a heresy, calling it
a "reprehensible" error. He had in mind a set of attitudes and practices intended to adjust Catholic belief and behavior (or in some cases just sweep them aside) to suit contemporary secular standards in unacceptable ways. The existence of such views, Leo said, "raises a suspicion that there are those among you who envision and desire a Church in America other than that which is in all the rest of the world."
Prominent figures in U.S. Catholicism like Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore — to whom the pope's letter was addressed … promptly insisted they held none of the views which Leo had condemned. And thereupon, one historian writes, Americanism "quickly disappeared as a meaningful force in the U.S."
Americanism is alive and well, and statements like those of Cardinal George and Archbishop Quinn simply confirm the fact beyond a reasonable doubt.
Additionally the praises that are coming forth in support of Notre Dame's olive branch to the treacherous Obama include the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Its president said Notre Dame deserves the respect of all Americans for refusing to rescind the invite to Obama!
Newspaper editorials are calling on Notre Dame's president to stand firm, and the Superior General of the Congregation of Holy Cross Fathers, the order to which Notre Dame President Father Jenkins belongs, just authored a 13-page letter to Obama that is a cross between chicken gumbo and oatmeal: its content is mush!
On the solidly Catholic side of the debate, we find a host of amazing Catholic prelates who have put their best foot forward in enunciating exactly what it means to be Catholic.
South Bend's own Bishop John D'Arcy, who has valiantly attempted to reign in the powers that be at Notre Dame for the past twenty years, made the news first on this subject.
Bishop John M. D'Arcy said Tuesday he will not attend the University of Notre Dame's graduation ceremony, where President Obama is scheduled to deliver the commencement speech and receive an honorary degree.
"President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred…. I wish no disrespect to the president, I pray for him and I wish him well. I have always revered the office of the presidency. But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith 'in season and out of season,' and he teaches not only by his words – but by his actions."
Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, wrote Father Jenkins:
I write to protest this egregious decision on your part. President Obama has been a pro-abortion legislator. He has indicated, especially since he took office, his deliberate disregard of the unborn by lifting the ban on embryonic stem cell research, by promoting the FOCA agenda and by his open support for gay rights throughout this country.
It is a travesty that the University of Notre Dame, considered by many to be a Catholic University, should give its public support to such an anti-Catholic politician.
Oklahoma's bishops, Most Rev. Edward J. Slattery (Diocese of Tulsa) and Most Rev. Eusebius Beltran (Archdiocese of Oklahoma City) have both sent letters to Father Jenkins protesting the Obama appearance and award.
Bishop Slattery's letter states, in part ,"For President Obama to be honored by Notre Dame is more than a disappointment, it is a scandal – especially to young adults."
Archbishop Beltran's remarks are soon to be published in the Sooner Catholic.
As posted by the Cardinal Newman Society on their web site, Bishop Walker Nickless of Sioux City wrote in the diocesan news outlet The Catholic Globe
This is truly a sad day for the famous university dedicated to our Blessed Mother. … Catholic institutions of higher learning must always be places where the Catholic values we hold so dearly will always be supported and promoted – not where the culture of death is allowed to be honored or valued.
Phoenix, Arizona's Bishop Thomas J. Olmstead's letter states, in part
It is a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States. Our USCCB June 2004 Statement "Catholics in Political Life" states: "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." No one could not know of the public stands and actions of the president on key issues opposed to the most vulnerable human beings.
Archbishop John J. Myers, Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, issued a statement containing these words, "When we extend honors to people who do not share our respect and reverence for life in all stages, and give them a prominent stage in our parishes, schools and other institutions, we unfortunately create the perception that we endorse their public positions on these issues. We cannot justify such actions, and the Bishops have stated so clearly and strongly."
Bishop Gregory Aymond of the Diocese of Austin, Texas, wrote "In my opinion, it is very clear that in this case the University of Notre Dame does not live up to its Catholic identity in giving this award and their leadership needs our prayerful support."
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, wrote in his March 27 column
Though I can understand the desire by a university to have the prestige of a commencement address by the President of the United States, the fundamental moral issue of the inestimable worth of the human person from conception to natural death is a principle that soaks all our lives as Catholics, and all our efforts at formation, especially education at Catholic places of higher learning. The President has made clear by word and deed that he will promote abortion and will remove even those limited sanctions that control this act of violence against the human person.
A distinct line has been drawn in the sand between those who understand what it means to be Catholic in the midst of a secularized culture and those who prefer assimilation into the secularized culture. The events surrounding the Notre Dame Obama travesty tell us something instructive about Catholics in America. The tragic differences that have been created by the heresy of Americanism are now crystal clear thanks to the Notre Dame fiasco. As Father Anthony Brankin said a couple of years ago,
We are cooperating with a genuinely godless secular state – a world regime of people who are not like us and who do not like us – and this state grows bigger and more sinister with each passing day. And it is this entity that has given birth to the global Culture of Death under which we groan and which we try to ignore. …How are we complicit in the crimes and depredations of those we have put in power? By ignoring their crimes, making excuses for them, and by saying nothing of any substance.
And, I would add, we are complicit by inviting the enemy to Catholic institutions, honoring that enemy and pandering to the culture of death in the process.
If you would like to send kind messages of thanks to those shepherds who are teaching us how to live Catholic, feel free:
Bishop John D’Arcy
Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend: Fort Wayne Chancery
1103 S. Calhoun Street
P.O. Box 390
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46801
Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, Archdiocese of Minneapolis/St. Paul:
Bishop Edward J. Slattery:
Archbishop Eusebius Beltran
Archdiocese of Oklahoma City
Pastoral Center Offices
7501 NW Expressway
Oklahoma City, OK 73132
Bishop Thomas J. Olmstead:
Archbishop John J. Myers:
Bishop Gregory Aymond
Diocese of Austin
P.O. Box 15405
Austin, TX 78761-5405
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo
Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
1700 San Jacinto
Houston, Texas 77002