Sunday, March 29, 2009

Notre Dame in the news

This week, those of us newshounds who have an ear in the conservative movement were informed that Pres. Obama is going to be a guest speaker--and receive an honorary degree--at this spring's graduation ceremony at Notre Dame University.

Yes, that Notre Dame--the most visible Catholic school in the nation. Inviting a staunchly pro-choice (heck, I'll even go this far: decidedly and demonstrably anti-pro-life) politician to be their graduation speaker. And to honor him with a degree.

Naturally, this hasn't been well-received in some quarters of the Catholic church.

There's been a lot of huffing and puffing, by some pretty high-ups in the church. Heck, there's even a petition with over 100,000 signatures on it imploring Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins to dis-invite the President.

This little brouhaha reminds me of a conversation I had with an elder of mine right before the 2008 Presidential election. He is a wise man, a gentle man, and he is well-versed on the ways of Catholicism. So I asked him how can Catholics even consider voting for pro-choice candidates?

And his answer surprised me, because it didn't even come close to saying that Catholics don't know what they're doing in the electoral box. Rather, it was about priorities.

Catholics, you see, have a long history of socialism, it was explained to me.

And then it hit me. EVERY DAY that I have been in a Catholic service, I have seen a collection basket. And it is expected--pardon me, TAUGHT--that each household donates their "fair share" to the church, and that such giving is not optional.

And I know that I wasn't awake for a lot of homilies, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't told every single service about the church's stance on abortion.

Given this huge difference in the preaching department, then is it really so amazing that Catholics have such a disregard for the by-the-letter practice of their faith?

I'm confident that Obama outpolled McCain on Notre Dame campus last November. And you can't say that it was un-Catholic for that to be the case. It just wasn't in keeping with ALL of the church's teachings.

And now we know why: the head of the school apparently doesn't give a whip about being a Catholic teacher in pro-life activities.

To me, this is a watershed event in the Catholic church. Many leaders (most notably today Cardinal DiNardo) have lent their voice to the "dis-invite Obama" cause. I don't think such a disinvitation will ever transpire: Obama would be a fool to pass up the coverage of his speech at Notre Dame, and the school's leadership is already convicted in the minds of true Catholics. They gain nothing by pulling the invite.

But that doesn't mean that something won't be done period. It is up to the leadership of the Church to fire Rev. Jenkins. Not accept his resignation--fire him.

Only if the Catholic church stands firm in its message can it even have a hope of properly teaching its flock. Father Jenkins apparently doesn't understand every facet of that message, nor does he have an issue with going counter to Catholic leadership regarding the use of learning institutions as a platform for those who "act in defiance of (the chruch's) fundamental moral principles" (quoted from a letter sent by Catholic Bishops to leaders of such institutions in 2004). He is a rebel amongst a church that doesn't have much tolerance for such looseness in its doctrinal leaders; in other words, he has no business being at Notre Dame as a teacher, much less as the president.

To add insult to injury, the whole school is being played as a prop by the Obama administration. Their acceptance to the invite--and the reason why Catholics should not hope that Obama will decline the invite--is at least partly political. That Jenkins did not understand that he was being played as a political stooge shows that he should have no business determining the course of any aspect of the church.

The Church's actions need to be firm AND PUBLIC as they resolve this problem. Obama will come; he should be generously hosted; undoubtedly he will be well received. But there needs to be absolutely no question about this issue from the moment he leaves that campus onward:

The Catholic church has exactly one stance on the issue of the unborn. One.

And there is no room for equivocating or looking for "common ground". Either you believe that the fertilization of a human egg creates a life that deserves protecting. . .

. . .or you believe counter to the church.


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