Depending on which account of the events surrounding the tragic invitation extended to President Barack Obama by the University of Notre Dame, one gets the impression that those of us who oppose the invitation are nothing but religious zealots who are out of step with modern day accommodation and compromise. I, on the other hand, strongly believe that those who have permitted this invitation to move forward, or have actually facilitated it, are Catholic zombies. These are people who have apparently grown spiritually dead to the truths of Catholic teaching, the things that make being a Catholic special and the teachings that separate us from the world so that we can be God’s salt in the world.
I guess in this day and age each person has to choose which sort of Catholic he wishes to be, and we are all grateful that Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall is one of us zealots!
On Thursday, March 26, 2009, Virginia House of Delegates member Robert G. Marshall sent a letter to Father John I. Jenkins. C.S.C., President of Notre Dame University. It is such an eloquent letter that we felt compelled to share it.
Further action items that each of us can pursue follow at the end of Delegate Marshall’s letter:
Reverend John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President, Notre Dame University
400 Main Building
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Dear President Jenkins:
I write to you as a Catholic, an l8-year legislator and as a graduate of Benedictine Belmont Abbey College regarding your invitation to Barrack Obama as a Commencement speaker.
You claim that Notre Dame's invitation for the President to address graduates "should in no way be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research."
John Cardinal O'Connor deliberately refused to invite democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton, then running for re-election, to the 1996 Al Smith dinner because Clinton refused to sign a bill banning partial birth abortions. He also declined to invite republican presidential candidate Bob Dole to avoid the appearance of favoritism. (Jack Kemp and Al Gore went to the dinner as vice-presidential candidates.)
Your list of moral issues on which Barrack Obama is at variance with constant Church teaching is incomplete and should have included Obama's endorsement of same sex "civil unions" with rights of marriage, homosexual adoption, opposition to a Federal Marriage Amendment, and support at the UN for decriminalization of homosexual behavior.
You attempt to make a distinction between honoring the president, as in awarding him a doctor of laws degree, and supporting his political views. But honor is the recognition with words and awards for someone who, in one or more aspects such as virtue, intelligence, integrity, etc., excels others. Such an award would be considered an act of justice. But there is no justice in granting a doctor of laws degree to one who wishes to place outside the protection and rule of law, an entire class of human beings who cannot defend themselves against unjust aggression.
In addition to Obama's support for the Freedom of Choice Act which would undo 35 years of court-tested state and federal laws which have saved lives, he favors civil and/or criminal sanctions against doctors, nurses, and medical personnel who would exercise their rights of conscience to refuse to participate in any manner in the unjust killing of a child before birth by abortion. This position alone should disqualify the president from receiving any honor from Notre Dame, let alone a doctor of laws degree.
The Catholic Catechism notes that anyone who promotes "social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible to achieve” is guilty of scandal (Catechism of the Catholic Church #226).
You state another reason for your invitation is that President Obama is an inspiring leader … facing many challenges … he has addressed them with intelligence, courage and honesty.
During the 2008 campaign, Mr. Obama said that deciding when human life begins is above his “pay grade.” (Virginia third graders are required to learn this simple fact.) Yet, Obama wasted little time issuing an order authorizing the destruction of embryonic humans apparently without attempting to resolve whether they are indeed created human beings. Nor did he seek to establish whether scientific process, including that conducted at Notre Dame, has eliminated any justification for using embryonic humans for stem cell research.
Mr. Obama further accuses those who oppose human experimentation of ideological bias and politics as he authorizes tax monies for this lethal research, which has demonstrated NO cures, NO therapies and NO long range clinical benefits! This is neither an example of honesty nor courage, but merely blind ideology.
Most curiously for someone receiving a broad welcome from a college president such as yourself, President Obama is seeking tax law changes which would make charitable giving to our churches and institutions like Notre Dame much more difficult and costly.
You conclude that you “cannot change the world if you shun the people you want to persuade, and if you cannot persuade them … show respect for them and listen to them.”
We respect the person of the president since he is made in God’s image; we respect his high office which derives from our venerable Constitution. But it is precisely because we have listened to the words of this president that we reject his Culture of Death policies which are inimical to the individual and common good.
We oppose and reject actions which give the appearance of indifference to evil and that is why we reject President Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame University.
Lastly, your actions make it much more difficult for Catholic lawmakers like myself to garner support for legislation upholding a Culture of Life, and against policies which degrade our culture and foster disrespect for persons. I urge you to reconsider your invitation.
Delegate Bob Marshall
Ask the leadership of the Congregation for Catholic Education to get involved in this and do what can be done to stop the Obama appearance:
Most Reverend Archbishop Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect
The Congregation for Catholic Education
of Seminaries and Institutes of Studies
[Secretary: Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P.]
00120 CITTÀ DEL VATICANO
Father Jenkins is a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross order of priests. Please ask Father Jenkins’ Superior General to communicate with Father Jenkins about the scandal that is being created:
Very Rev. Hugh W. Cleary, C.S.C.
Congregation of Holy Cross
Via Framura, 85
00168 Rome, Italy
Or e-mail him:
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Get your friends, neighbors and family members involved. See more action items here: (Read)
Pray, pray, pray!