McInerny on Notre Dame’s “vulgar lust”

This is in The Catholic Thing written by the gentleman scholar Ralph McInerny, for many years a professor at the University of Notre Dame.

He tackles the problem of the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama.

My emphases and comments.

The Catholic Thing
COLUMNS
Monday, 23 March 2009 
Is Obama Worth a Mass?    [A allusion is to the reconciliation of the Bourbon King Henry IV after his Protestantizing apostacy: "Paris is worth a Mass".]
By Ralph McInerny
   
Now that the abortion president [I think it might be fair to beef that up as "the Abortion President"] will be honored and feted and listened to at Notre Dame’s commencement, the question becomes, who will say the commencement Mass[Indeed.]

The University of Notre Dame has officially and with much self-satisfaction invited President Barack Obama to address its 2009 graduates and to receive an honorary law degree. Not to put too fine a point on it, this is a deliberate thumbing of the collective nose at the Roman Catholic Church to which Notre Dame purports to be faithful. Faithful? Tell it to Julian the Apostate.  [I believe they are feeling the pressure of their contumacious move and have therefore also offered something to Mary Ann Glendon, far far more deserving.]

That someone who procures or advocates abortion thereby excludes himself from communion with the Church has been clear doctrine all along, and increasingly bishops have found the courage to tell those Catholic politicians who are the great enablers of abortion legislation that they cannot receive Holy Communion. Is it any worse to celebrate such a politician as Barack Obama? So where does that put ND President Father Jenkins? He can hardly say Mass without receiving the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, so doubtless he will recuse himself and have someone else say the Mass. [A very good question.  If Fr. Jenkins says Mass publicly for this even, there could be a risk of scandal.] But to whom will he go? All his cohorts must come under the same cloud as he. Perhaps the pastor of the president’s erstwhile church in Chicago will be invited to harangue the assembled graduates and parents and faculty – those who can bring themselves to attend commencement this year. Why not? [Indeed.  What was his name?  Jeremiah Wright.  Or perhaps the strange Catholic priest who was so much in the news, Pfleger.]

Perhaps because, having been reminded of the sermons he heard over the years, Barack Obama distanced himself, as they say, from the fiery orator at whose feet he sat for decades. [After all, Paris vaut bien une messe!]  In this, whatever his motives, he has perhaps pointed a way for the Notre Dame administrators to redeem themselves. Perhaps they are unaware of Obama’s record on abortion. Perhaps they have not been paying attention to what he has already done as president. On being reminded of all this, and mindful of the parlous position this puts them into vis-a-vis the Church if they thus celebrate the president, perhaps they will as publicly rescind their invitation as they have issued it? Don’t count on it.

For one whose fifty-four year career as a member of the Notre Dame faculty is coming to an end this June, it is a bitter thing to reflect on the 2009 commencement speaker. It is of course convenient to have an excuse to absent oneself from the festivities. Listening to commencement addresses is the penalty that graduates must pay to receive their diplomas. One can count memorable commencement speeches on the cuticle of one finger. They are ceremonial occasions that will be little remembered and less celebrated. One has groaned at previous selections, but the invitation to Barack Obama is far from being the usual effort of the university to get into warm contact with the power figures of the day[read: "shameless pandering"] It is an unequivocal abandonment of any pretense at being a Catholic university[which is worse than shameless pandering, actually] And it is in sad continuity with decades of waffling that have led with seeming inevitability to it.

No event was more crucial for Catholic universities than the infamous 1967 Land O’Lakes statement in which the assembled presidents of Catholic institutions declared their freedom from the supposedly baleful influence of Catholic orthodoxy. They would continue to call themselves Catholic, but the definition of the term was constantly under construction. And this by institutions whose task is decidedly not to define what Catholicism is. And now we have come to the point where the University of Notre Dame is publicly excluding itself from allegiance to and acceptance of one of the most fundamental of Christian moral truths, mentioned explicitly in the Didache and again and again over the centuries. [Dr. McInerny writes with the blistering clarity of a magnifying glass.] Abortion is an essentially evil act, both from the viewpoint of natural morality and from the explicit teaching the Church. There is no way in which an individual, a politician or an institution can finesse that fact.

By inviting Barack Obama as commencement speaker, Notre Dame is telling the nation that the teaching of the Catholic church on this fundamental matter can be ignored. Lip service may be paid to the teaching on abortion, but it is no impediment to upward mobility, to the truly vulgar lust to be welcomed into secular society, whether on the part of individuals or institutions.  [Bravo. Perfect.]
Some years ago, Archbishop Michael Miller in his Vatican capacity as overseer of Catholic education, said in an address at Notre Dame [!] that the Holy Father was considering prohibiting the use of “Catholic” by institutions whose behavior contradicts that use. By inviting Barack Obama to be the 2009 commencement speaker, Notre Dame has forfeited its right to call itself a Catholic university. It invites an official rebuke. May it come.  [I suspect that the present Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Card. Grocholeski, will do nothing.  That is what ND is betting on.  Then the silence from the Holy See will be proclaimed as a precedent, even an approval of their contumacious invitation.]

Ralph McInerny is a writer of philosophy, fiction, and cultural criticism, who has taught at Notre Dame since 1955.

Thank you, Professor McInerny.

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75 Responses to McInerny on Notre Dame’s “vulgar lust”

  1. Fr. Michael says:

    Fr. Z commented: [I believe they are feeling the pressure of their contumacious move and have therefore also offered something to Mary Ann Glendon, far far more deserving.]

    The two speakers (Obama as commencement speaker and Glendon as recipient of the Laetare Medal) were chosen separate of each other. Glendon was contacted months ago, even when she still resided in Rome.

    Obama’s invitation was extended when he entered office, just as it has been extended to every modern day president. I know for a fact, that Notre Dame’s president’s office was in search of a commencement speaker up until this past week when the White House confirmed that Obama would attend.

    This conspiracy theory that one speaker (Glendon) was brought in so as to balance the other speaker (Obama) is just that, a conspiracy standing on no legs.

    I am not thrilled by the upcoming commencement exercises, but I will say this: I look forward to hearing Mrs. Glendon’s speach – I suspect it will be smart, forcefully Catholic and diplomatic and given to some amazing students AND to Obama sitting right next to Glendon. May he listen well.

    Thanks!
    Fr. Michael

  2. Fr. Michael: Thanks for the observation. You say you know about the timing of the way they were invited. Has this been published somewhere?

  3. ssoldie says:

    God bless and keep you Professor Ralph McInerny. I hope and pray that the Holy Father will make a statement prohibiting Notre Dame of using the word “Catholic” university.

  4. Vincent says:

    I can tell you one priest who certainly won’t be saying this Mass: + John M. D’Arcy, Bishop of Fort Wayne – South Bend. I can’t wait to read his pastoral letter on this.

  5. Rumold says:

    Whilst little may be expected of Cardinal Grocholeski I would not underestimate the lion-hearted bravery of Archbishop Raymond Burke to become involved and give the benefit of his views.Bishop D’Arcy is no slouch either.

  6. Frank H says:

    From the press release on Notre Dame’s website it appears that Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton never delivered commencement addresses at ND. Does anyone know whether or not they were invited to do so?

  7. Fr. Michael says:

    Clinton was invited, just as every modern-era president has been. He accepted but eventually declined to attend. I think that was in 1996.

  8. Cel says:

    As has most of the media, numerous European governments and many other institutions, it seems that Notre Dame have been caught up in the cult of personality that is President Obama. The whole world, it seems, falls over itself to gush about a man who was completely unknown two years ago. Even if he were not such a supporter of abortion it would still be unseemly.

  9. Peter Morrell says:

    I say this as an ND alumnus of the class of 2002.
    I agree completely with everything the good professor has said.
    Looking at the tenured faculty, I fear we have reached the point of
    no return. There may be some orthodox catholics at Notre Dame,
    but it has ceased to be an Orthodox Catholic University.

  10. RichR says:

    By setting a precedent of inviting sitting Presidents to speak, the university administration puts itself in these types of situations, and it is hard to eliminate the “tradition” without causing public notice. If they aren’t going to stand up for Catholicism, then shame on them. There’s a time to reach out to sinners, but this is glorification of an unrepentant pro-choice advocate and legislator. Obama will think the Catholics aren’t all that pro-life, the people will be confused, and the Catholic parents out there will scratch ND off their list of Catholic colleges.

  11. Beowulf says:

    While why not invite Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor from England, he received Tony Blair into the Church, he would have no qualm of conscience.

  12. JML says:

    I was ready to call down fire and brimstone upon many, then I read Sext from today’s Liturgy of the Hours (thanks Holy Whapping!!)

    “…Am I likely to take pleasure in the death of a wicked man – it is the Lord who speaks – and not prefer to see him renounce his wickedness and live?…(Ezekiel 18:23)”

    Pray for the President. Pray for the administration, faculty, and students at Our Lady’s University.

  13. Veritas says:

    The tradition of inviting the president of the US to speak every year is a tradition akin to that in “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson.

  14. RBrown says:

    The two speakers (Obama as commencement speaker and Glendon as recipient of the Laetare Medal) were chosen separate of each other. Glendon was contacted months ago, even when she still resided in Rome.

    Obama’s invitation was extended when he entered office, just as it has been extended to every modern day president. I know for a fact, that Notre Dame’s president’s office was in search of a commencement speaker up until this past week when the White House confirmed that Obama would attend.

    That history begs the question: Are there any circumstances when a President would not be invited?

    This conspiracy theory that one speaker (Glendon) was brought in so as to balance the other speaker (Obama) is just that, a conspiracy standing on no legs.

    That is an assumption standing on no legs. It’s quite possible that the invitation to Glendon was extended to feign neutrality so that a pro abortion speaker could be invited.

    I am not thrilled by the upcoming commencement exercises, but I will say this: I look forward to hearing Mrs. Glendon’s speach – I suspect it will be smart, forcefully Catholic and diplomatic and given to some amazing students AND to Obama sitting right next to Glendon. May he listen well.
    Thanks!
    Fr. Michael

    Obama will listen, but he is a very, very slick politician who knows well that his appearance at ND will win him more votes than it loses.

  15. RBrown says:

    BTW, for four years I was colleague of Ralph’s brother Dennis, who is also a gentleman scholar and really good guy.

  16. Gail F says:

    If ND always invites the sitting president to speak, is that in the university bylaws? Or could the university leaders have chosen not to invite President Obama without having to vote to change the rules? In light of Obama’s vehement abortion support, not inviting him in the first place (even if it meant breaking governing rules) would of course have been the correct thing to do, but I would like to know whether the automatic invitation is a custom or a rule. I’m not at all surprised that he accepted the invitation especially considering the Democrati party’s obvious wooing of pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians — I assume to give them points for appealing to “religious” people.

  17. SC says:

    Fr. Z,
    This is such a HUGE scandal for American Catholics, do you think the Pope will do something?

  18. TOTUS says:

    Look, the solution is easy. The invitation to the POTUS has been sent and there’s nothing that can be done about it. However, if efforts can be made to refuse sending an invitation to the TOTUS (Teleprompter of the United States) then salvation may still be possible for the golden domers. Without TOTUS, the POTUS will be unable to come up with gems like “its above my pay scale” and such, and will quickly back out of the deal. Problem solved.

  19. benedict follower says:

    For anyone who has not yet signed the petition of the Cardinal Newman Society, please consider to sign at http://notredamescandal.com/
    There are already over 20,000 signatures.
    If I were Prof.Mary Ann Glendon I would consider that it may be more honorable to refuse the Laetare Medal in these circumstances. What does it signify when at the same time they give an honorary doctorate to a man supporting the gravest sins and that which is the most contrary to natural and divine law? where what is supposed to be one of the greatest Catholic universities betrays its church and the teaching on faith and morals to a great degree?

  20. F C Bauerschmidt says:

    A historical note: if I recall correctly, Henry IV was actually referring to his abandoning of protestantism for Catholicism when he said “Paris is worth a Mass.” So I’m a bit puzzled by the allusion: it would seem to imply that ND is becoming Catholic to get Obama. I guess his point is just the more general one aobut being willing to compromise one’s religious principles.

  21. Kevin in Texas says:

    A tangential, but important, question for Father Z:

    If a priest celebrating Mass were to commit a mortal sin and then celebrate Mass without having gone to confession first, would he be able, liturgically, to abstain from consuming the Body and Blood of Christ during the Mass itself? Would the Mass be valid if he didn’t receive the Body and Blood? Or perhaps valid but not licit? Not something that I hope occurs much, but something I’ve wondered about as a hypothetical question!

  22. RBrown says:

    F C Bauerschmidt,

    I think Fr Z’s point compared Henry IV to Obama, that he is pro abortion but willing to speak at a “Catholic” univ.

  23. Matthew says:

    “Bishop D’arcy is not slouch”

    I will be willing to believe this when he puts the university campus under interdict for graduation weekend. I am not sure whether he can do this or not but canon law provides many tools for discipline. O for the days of the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston who upon being appointed to the see of Boston, ordered the Sulpicians to leave his diocese and to take their dead with them. Holy Cross priests service in the diocese of Ft. Wayne – South Bend at the Bishop’s pleasure. Order Jenkins and company OUT!
    Matthew ’87

  24. jacques says:

    Why doesn’t the Vatican intervene officially?
    If it doesn’t that would mean that the Pope okays the invitation: A further sign that there are two speeches that the Church may use according to circumstances, hence leading to further confusion and scandal among the catholics in America (and elsewhere)if that wasn’t enough in the times being.
    “The one who shuts up is agreeing”

  25. Bill in Texas says:

    RichR: “By setting a precedent of inviting sitting Presidents to speak, the university administration puts itself in these types of situations, and it is hard to eliminate the “tradition” without causing public notice.”

    This would have been such a great opportunity to cause such public notice. Too bad the opportunity was missed. Now we can only pray that an even greater notice will be served by rescinding the invitation.

    My morning reconsecration to The Immaculata since January has been amended specifically: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you, and for those who do not have recourse to you, especially for the enemies of the Church and those recommended to you — the President and Vice President of the United States, our elected representatives at the local, state, and national level, and all judges.” Short of a miraculous conversion, or a Marian apparition witnessed by everyone in government, I don’t know what else would bring about a change in our downward national direction.

  26. Excellent letter from Dr. McInerny. It is truly horrible that Notre Dame is going to be giving such a great scandal. I wonder if the students will refuse to attend?

    Is it true that Notre Dame invites every president? If so, it is very interesting that Obama accepted the invitation. This is just one more example (following the appointment of numerous pro-abortion Catholics to White House positions) of Obama making war on the Catholic Church.

  27. Charivari Rob says:

    Father Z. – “…about the timing of the way they were invited. Has this been published somewhere?”

    The article about Glendon on The Deacon’s Bench mentioned the timing, as well, but did not cite a particular source:

    http://deacbench.blogspot.com/2009/03/and-now-other-shoe.html

    excerpt – “The decisions involving the Laetare and Obama’s invitation to speak were understood to be taken independently of each other — the Laetare winner is customarily notified of their selection sometime before Christmas, while word from South Bend says that the President had not been confirmed as commencement speaker until recent days.”

    Searching the ND website and the history of the medal, the process described for nomination and consideration of candidates makes the ‘before Christmas’ reference seem plausible.

    The same searches suggest there has been controversy in the past, such as the 1992 selection of US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan as recipient.

    The Observer had an article with an interesting quote or two from Father Jenkins:

    http://media.www.ndsmcobserver.com/media/storage/paper660/news/2009/03/21/News/Former.Ambassador.To.Vatican.Will.Receive.Laetare.Medal-3679017.shtml

    “Jenkins said Sunday that Glendon’s presence at Commencement – where President Barack Obama is scheduled to give the main address – will be a strong representation of the Catholic viewpoint. “In inviting President Obama, we will listen to him. But I think it’s important he will listen to others. And I can’t think of a better spokesperson for the Catholic viewpoint than Mary Ann Glendon,” Jenkins said.”

    So, can he give a compelling reason for the University to honor (and provide this forum to) someone who does not represent ‘the Catholic viewpoint’?

  28. Al says:

    I say “Scum”. “Scum” if you do not follow the teachings of the church yet call yourself an educator and defender of the church. Remove the scum who are in power… Just remove them. I don’t care what the excuses are. Need help? Where do you want me?

  29. Cavaliere says:

    Fr. Michael: Thanks for the observation. You say you know about the timing of the way they were invited. Has this been published somewhere?

    I believe Rocco at Whispers has something on the timing.http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2009/03/madame-ambassador-laetare-laureate.html

  30. TerryC says:

    It certainly sounds to me as if Prof. McInerny has decided not to attend commencement exercises at ND this year. At many universities it is quite common to honor retiring professors on such an occasion. I do not know if ND follows this tradition or not, but I have no doubt that his students and fellow department professors will note his absence, and the reason for it.

  31. Brian Mershon says:

    Dr. McInerney is one of the most genteel gentleman I have ever had the pleasure to meet. There are few like him left in this world.

    Notre Dame has been a joke for years and anyone who has been paying attention should already know that.

  32. Regarding the timing of the two invitations… I have had some private e-mail about this, but I am really interesting in something published or offered by the University of Notre Dame.

  33. a catechist says:

    I’m a heartbroken alumna. Of course, I hope Pres. Obama doesn’t sign any further Culture of Death legislation in the next few months. And yet, I can’t help but wonder if he signs something before graduation, it could be an “excuse” (for the backbone-deficient) to rescind the invitation. I haven’t given up hope that my own degree won’t be besmirched by the honorary degree actually being conferred. And I feel sorry for Dr. McI & the other faithful Catholics on the faculty who fight the good fight.

    Thank God my grandmother didn’t live to see this.

  34. Athelstane says:

    “Obama’s invitation was extended when he entered office, just as it has been extended to every modern day president.”

    That’s true. As noted above, Clinton was invited in 1993, and Bush was invited, and actually spoke, in 2001.

    The rule has a provenance predating the cultural collapse on life issues, so it seems worth asking whether the rule should be revisited. (It should be.)

    The reality, unfortunately, is that it is nearly impossible to get any traction to withdraw an invitation to a sitting president, barring extraordinary circumstances (say if he were weeks away from an impeachment trial, for example). No discredit to the Newman Society, but the Church and the pro-life community must find other ways to make their position known. Bishop d’Arcy and the Congregation must act respectively as their offices require; donors must revisit their intentions; the campus pro-lifers can put on heavy pressure for a staunchly pro-life invocation (Fr. Frank Pavone would be a nice touch), and some kind of respectful protest at or before the event itself are all possibilities. The university must be made to pay a price for this failure.

    For my part I am not prepared to give up on ND as a Catholic institution. Good things are happening there. But as someone above noted, this is what happens when you stop making an effort to ensure a critical mass of believing Catholics on your faculty. ND currently has only 51% Catholic faculty, and that includes fellows like Fr. McBrien. Notre Dame needs to start making a serious effort to recruit and keep qualified, orthodox Catholics.

  35. Johnny Domer says:

    The thing about when the Laetare medalist is invited is basically common knowledge to anybody who knows the process; I don’t know that the university has anything up about the official procedures for inviting the Laetare medalist, but I know that Fr. Michael is correct in what he is saying.

  36. Athelstane says:

    I also recommend everyone read the excellent remarks made by Emily over at the premier Notre Dame associated blog in St. Blog’s, The Shrine of the Holy Whapping: http://holywhapping.blogspot.com/2009_03_01_archive.html#8136648654929718824

  37. Theresa says:

    According to this piece, http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/11292,
    the Laetare Medal is so named because its winner is announced on Laetare Sunday every year. So it looks, not so much like ND decided to name Glendon b/c of pressure as a result of the commencement speaker announcement, but rather that Obama was announced on Friday (outcry expected), with full knowledge that Glendon would be announced on Sunday.

    Theresa

  38. Joe says:

    I have a sad admiration for the phrase “the truly vulgar lust to be welcomed into secular society, whether on the part of individuals or institutions.” It makes me think of the Al Smith Dinner in New York. This is the story of North American Catholicism over the past 60 years, here in a nutshell: a Catholic laboring class that worked long hard hours so their children, who would in turn be embarrassed of them and their faith. I don’t mean the children who are there now, but those of that generation in charge of things.

  39. Cavaliere says:

    Apart from the obvious evil of abortion being sufficient to deny an invitation to President Obama to speak and be honored there is also his advocacy of the destruction of human life via embryonic stem cell research. Albeit a lame argument, the pro-Obama supporters will try to justify this by suggesting that more money for healthcare for the poor, raising the minimum wage, more funds for higher education scholarships will entice woman to not abort and as a result because Pres. Obama supports these things he is pro-life (at least in their warped, irrational reasoning.) These arguments fall flat though regarding ESCR. Since the embryo is not implanted in the woman their is no decision of “choice.” How will a higher minimum wage or even full employment help the human life in the embryo stage? To my knowledge only the incomprehensible Doug Kmiec is attempting to rationalize away this contradiction and failing.

    Fr. Jenkins spins this scandal that UND is simply honoring him for his leadership, not his beliefs. But knowing that ESCR is contradictory to the Catholic faith, a violation of Natural Law, has had no success he still believes that Pres. Obama possesses leadership qualities. So despite this Pres. Obama still supports and advocates the ESCR as the hope for millions suffering from a variety of diseases. From this we can conclude that the Pres actually believes in ESCR or that he is so controlled by those who do believe that he compromises his personal beliefs and goes along with the Michael J. Fox’s and other advocates for this pseudo-scientific research. In neither case would he thereby warrant the label of “leader.” In fact he has done nothing since assuming office that could be characterized as possessing leadership. A number of his political appointments have been a scandal, his recent overtures to Iran were met with derision. He had to fight with Congress to pass his stimulus package and now he has to send his ground troops out knocking on doors to promote his wonderful budget package. (Don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain, don’t ask why you have to send people out on Sunday morning to sell something that if it was so wonderful wouldn’t need selling.)

  40. Knute says:

    None of you ever knew George Gipp. It was long before your time. But you all know what a tradition he is at Notre Dame. And the last thing he said to me: ‘Rock,’ he said, ‘Sometime, when the school is up against it, and the liberals are beating the boys, tell ‘em to go out there with all they got, and just kick the lefties one last time for the Gipper.’ So men, on graduation day when we’re backed up against our own goaline, we’re go inside ‘em, we’re gonna go inside ‘em and outside ‘em, and when we get ‘em on the run we’re gonna keep ‘em on the run, and don’t forget when we get ‘em on the run we’re gonna go go go, and we aren’t gonna stop until we kick everyone one of’em out, today is the day we’re gonna win they can’t lick us, every man get in there and fight fight fight, whadda you say men? Arghhhhhh…

  41. Vincent says:

    Matthew:

    CSC priests constitute a far too significant portion of the priests working in our diocese for Msgr. D’Arcy to just throw them out.

  42. Luigi says:

    Why would ANY committed Catholic student attend this graduation ceremony? Wouldn’t they do much better to simply receive their diploma by mail instead?

    They should request as many tickets as they are entitled to reeive and just not show up. Perhaps they can send a message of their own through the empty seats.

    Missing out on the ceremony is a small price to pay.

  43. Hiberniensis says:

    I wonder if the term the “Abortion President” will stick. I myself have been in the habit of calling him the “Abortionist-in-Chief”.

  44. Pseudomodo says:

    It’s great to see that Professor McInerny acknowledges the address by Archbishop Michael Miller. I got to see his (Millers) preaching first hand this past sunday where he visited our parish and celebrated two masses with us.

    I agree that the Holy See should explicitly challenge universities to identify themselves as Catholic, not only in name but in practice.

  45. Aaron says:

    The problem at Notre Dame is that almost all the good signs are coming from the _students_ while almost all the bad signs are coming from the administration (and the significant majority of the student body which remains only culturally Catholic). Thus while I’ve been saying for years, as double domer working on a third degree, that the good outweighs the bad and things seem to be getting better, this last sad saga has convinced that nothing will never get better with the CSCs providing university presidents and direction.

    Secondly, the poster who said Bp. D’Arcy is too dependent upon Holy Cross to kick them all out was right, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t sever the head of the Notre Dame administration and use the period of ill-will before any CSC response to develop other options. The CSCs are already pulling out of parishes because their decaying order is over-stretched, so Bp. D’Arcy needs to be cultivating other options anyway.

  46. Jackie says:

    Obama by accepting called the University\’s bluff, it is a good gamble that there will be no major disruption during his speech and no speaker condemning his actions regarding abortion. In most cases even if there was the media will cover for him. He will make pro-lifers look like an extreme faction of the church not to be taken seriously. Best evidence for this is that no pro-abort group is condemning Obama for speaking at a Catholic school.

    I think the best course of action is to ask Fr. Jenkins to do to Obama what Lee Bollinger of Columbia University did to Ahmadinejad, if Obama even thinks that this is possible, I bet he\’ll back out of giving the address.

  47. That was a really excellent piece, I feel more intelligent for having read it.

  48. Greg Smisek says:

    Perhaps if Bishop D’Arcy can’t otherwise mitigate the Notre Dame trainwreck, he should insist on addressing the commencement assembly personally or through a representative. He might even quote something from Archbishop Miller’s address.

    This reminds me of Pope John Paul II’s arrival in Denver for the 1993 World Youth Day. President Clinton greeted him on the tarmack. After various courtesies were exchanged, while Clinton was seated on the platform before the small crowd of WYD participants, the Holy Father recalled part of a speech he gave a decade earlier:

    “America, you are beautiful and blessed in so many ways… But your best beauty and your richest blessing is found in the human person: in each man, woman and child, in every immigrant, in every native born son and daughter… The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenceless ones.

    “The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves. It you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life! All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protest the human person.”

  49. Elizabeth says:

    Rest assured the Bishops won’t do a thing about it. Neither will Rome. Then they wonder why the good Catholics are confused and don’t know what to believe. It is up to US. Everybody ….. do someething to make your voice heard!

  50. mr.croucback says:

    Prof. Rick Garnett, a solidly Catholic professor at Notre Dame, has a post worth reading on this matter: http://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2009/03/more-on-commencement-speakers-response-to-rob.html

  51. supertradmom says:

    For the sake of honesty and the strength of the Roman Catholic Church in America, I hope and pray that the Vatican takes the name of Catholic away from ND (my alma mater) and from such other so-called Catholic Universities such as Georgetown. I believe this invitation could be rescinded, if the ND administration would become humble and admit a serious lack of judgment. God bless Dr. McInerny, whom I have met more than once. He is a true gentleman and a scholar.

    I wonder if the Vatican realizes what an impact all of this has on American Catholics. I hope the message is loud and clear through this blog, the petition, and other venues.

  52. joe says:

    Matthew,

    Yes, the hierarchy was in a bygone era willing to use discipline when necessary, not falling for human respect and pc. I think that you used an unsuitable example, in my opinion. Archbishop O’Connell did dismiss the Sulpicians from Boston when he was appointed. It is fair to question his motives though. He went to seminary under them and was asked to leave. It wasn’t the most amicable departure. The Sulpicians had a reputation of being very orthodox and disciplined. It is somewhat chronicled in “Boston Catholics” and other sources.

    Joe

  53. Gino says:

    I truly believe it is time for the Holy Father to act. He must take away the title “CATHOLIC” from schools like ND, Georgetown, Boston College etc.

    For too long the Church has allowed too much freewheeling by some Catholics. Our bishops are too timid in most cases to refuse abortion voting Catholic politicos from the Eucharist, or stopping Colleges from putting on sexual depravities like the Vagina Monologues.
    It all looks like a “wink and a nod” to the Faith and go along as you please.
    Notre Dame is Our Lady’s School and it is a disgrace for this ABORTIONIST IN CHIEF to be invited to a “Catholic” Commencement.
    Shame on Father Jenkins; this invitation is a travesty.

  54. Rancher says:

    Ok, so ND has a long standing tradition of inviting Presidents to give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree. What a perfect opportunity ND HAD to send a message. By breaking tradition because of Obama’s strong anti-life agenda they COULD have redeemed themselves as a “Catholic” university and could have drawn a line which said “we will not honor someone who is so far distant from Catholic teaching on issues of life” Yep, HAD the chance and COULD have done the right thing. Obviously they wanted to send an entirely different message to the Church hierarchy. Unfortunately they also sent a very negative message about the church to the citizens of the USA and the world. Maybe this would be a good opportunity for P.Benedict to personally deal with the issue of whether ND can continue to use Catholic in describing itself.

  55. michigancatholic says:

    According to OSV, Bishop D’Arcy is set to make a statement tomorrow on the situation.

    http://www.osvdailytake.com/2009/03/bishop-darcy-plans-notre-dame-statement.html

  56. michigancatholic says:

    Notre Dame University is a joke. I did better at a public university–at least there I didn’t have to put up with the deceit.

  57. cthemfly25 says:

    Father Michael–thank you for your insight and your service in Christ. I can’t help but feel sick and somewhat depressed. I mean you no disrespect by my comment. Who cares a whit about tradition (with a small t) regarding past ND invitations to other less presidents. We march, we pray, we ask for God’s witness through us as warriors for life…and then our Church’s most visible institutions sometimes mock us. Others are watching including those who ask about our Faith, and then they see something like this and the Church Militant is left explaining that the Eucharist is real and central to our Faith facing ever greater skepticism. This action by ND is madness and has a feel of treachery.

  58. holyfamilyparishoner says:

    It’s good to see Professor McInerny still trying to talk orthodoxy. I was privileged to have him for several thomistic philosophy classes during my undergrad years. What a great man.

    Those who haven’t should read some of his Father Dowling books.

  59. CHRIS N TEXAS says:

    Calling all pro-lifers.
    Next meeting:
    University of Notre Dame’s 164th University Commencement Ceremony at 2 p.m. May 17 (Sunday) in the Joyce Center.
    Let us bring our rosaries and pray the sorrowful mysteries while Obama makes his speech.

  60. Fr. Michael says:

    Just a response to Aaron who wrote: The CSCs are already pulling out of parishes because their decaying order is over-stretched, so Bp. D’Arcy needs to be cultivating other options anyway.

    As a CSC priest I ask for charity in your remarks. This is the same blog where Holy Cross priests have been noted and thanked for offering the EF of the Mass each week.

    Anyone who knows anything about a diocese or a religious order knows that you can’t describe the whole lot by the decisions of a few. To think that all CSCs were involved in the commencement address decision betrays a complete lack of understanding about the reality of ecclesial structures and their inner workings.

    Thanks for your understanding.
    God bless.

  61. Merriweather says:

    So they strip the name “Catholic” from the school? Big deal. The liberals don’t care about that. Stripping the “Catholic” label, simply allows them to effectively *steal* an institution that was bought, built and paid for by faithful Catholics of past generations.

    These schools got their 30 pieces of silver from Uncle Fed, and now they are paying the price.

    I hope that there are at least a few “true Catholics” in the graduating class, who will stand up and turn their backs on Fr. Jenkins and Obama’s teleprompter when he accepts the degree. They should make sure they are in the front too. I will also be happy to hear the Rosary chanted REALLY LOUD during the teleprompter’s remarks.

  62. Marie says:

    If you don’t have a ticket for the graduation ceremony, you aren’t going to get anywhere near the Joyce Center on May 17. On an ordinary football Saturday, the Notre Dame security folks and the local police do a formidable job of sealing off roads and parking lots and generally restricting access. Add the Secret Service to the mix, and you can be assured that any outside protestors will be quite effectively sequestered far from the action.

  63. my kidz mom says:

    “The invitation of Adolf Hitler to be our Commencement speaker should in no way be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues,” Jenkins said.

    He told The Observer, the Notre Dame student newspaper, he does not “foresee circumstances” that would cause the Catholic college to rescind its invitation to him.

    “We have invited Hitler and he’s honored us by accepting,” he said.

    Jenkins said the university has a rich tradition of inviting presidents to address the student body.

    “Presidents have come to Notre Dame for decades to speak to graduates about our nation and our world. They’ve given important addresses on international affairs, human rights, service, and we’re delighted that Hitler is continuing that tradition,” Jenkins said.

    Jenkins said Notre Dame is not ignoring the “crucial differences” on issues, but using the disagreement as a catalyst for dialogue.

    “We are not ignoring the critical issue of the protection of life. On the contrary, we invited him because we care so much about those issues, and we hope … for this to be the basis of an engagement with him,” Jenkins told the Observer. “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.”

    Jenkins called Hitler “an inspiring leader” and praised Hitler on other political issues.

  64. my kidz mom says:

    Before you jump all over this, No I am not saying Obama is Hitler! Just wondered how Prof. Jenkins might have sounded in the 1944 ND Observer.

  65. irishgirl says:

    How Our Lady must be weeping…..and Fr. Sorin as well!

    Come on Bishop D’Arcy-put pressure on Fr. Jenkins to DISINVITE Obama to ND!

  66. EJ says:

    I am still very confused as to the role of the diocesan bishop and a university which wants to call itself Catholic that is within his territorial jurisdiction… is an Ordinary powerless to DEMAND that certain speakers be disinvited? Why have we heard nothing from Bishop D’Arcy yet about Obama’s invitation there?

  67. JML says:

    EJ

    The letter/note has probably been deliverd. However, this is not “Beckett” where the Bishop will do a public excommunication or something like that. What I guess is happening, is the Bishop’s secretary has delivered the note to ND and is awaiting their response. I would imagine that as sensitive as this matter is, Bishop D’Arcy has no wish to embarrass Notre Dame any more than ND has already done to itself. Canon lawyers have been consulted and the letter/note is probably carefully crafted to include the teaching moment from the Bishop as well as an opportunity for Notre Dame and the President to wiggle out of the invitation with as little embarrassment as possible.

    What I HOPE will happen is that the His Excellency makes his letter public along with the reply from Notre Dame. What that reply is, and what the White House does, is right now all behind closed doors. Let us be patient and pray that this unfortunate episode ends quietly and without rancor.

    I don’t think any of the parties wants the Nuncio, or the Vatican involved in this.

  68. Greg Smisek says:

    A correction: JPII’s earlier words “American, defend life!” re-purposed for President Clinton’s ears, originally came from his 1987 farewell speech, spoken in the presence of then-Vice President George H. Bush.

  69. EJ says:

    JML – thank you, and yes I suppose the proper channels must be tried and exhausted first, but in light of just how contumacious this is, I HOPE and pray that the Church may not be a source of scandal through her silence this time.

  70. Jamison Allen says:

    Do we only invite politicians who support everything the Catholic Church supports? Where do we draw the line as Catholics? Do we say George W. Bush should not have been invited to give the Notre Dame commencement address because of the issues of the death penalty, war or poverty? Is Notre Dame really saying it supports the President’s policies? Will the Catholic Church or the United States of America benefit if American universities are literally separated into liberal and conservative universities?

  71. my kidz mom says:

    Jamison: 1)yes; 2)Obama has made himself crystal clear, I’m surprised you question where he has drawn the line; 3)these issues do not have equal moral weight with abortion; 4)yes; 5)restated: Will the Catholic Church or USA benefit if Catholic universities are truly Catholic? YES.

  72. John 6:54 says:

    This is akin to the early christians inviting Nero to dinner.

  73. RBrown says:

    Do we only invite politicians who support everything the Catholic Church supports? Where do we draw the line as Catholics?

    Excellent question. So I’ll ask you: Where should the line be drawn?

    Do we say George W. Bush should not have been invited to give the Notre Dame commencement address because of the issues of the death penalty, war or poverty?

    1. For the millionth time, Catholic doctrine does not oppose the death penalty. A Catholic can legimately oppose the death penalty and favor it.

    I suggest you read the Catechism.

    2. What’s the problem with Bush and poverty? What did he do to make people poor?

    BTW, under his administration tax rates were lowered for those with lower incomes, and the personal exemption and standard deduction were increased.

    3. The problem with the war is a good example. On the hand, Cardinal Ratzinger once said that with modern warfare, perhaps no war is just.

    Is Notre Dame really saying it supports the President’s policies? Will the Catholic Church or the United States of America benefit if American universities are literally separated into liberal and conservative universities?
    Comment by Jamison Allen

    What does liberal and conservative have to do with it? Was Hitler a liberal?

  74. eft says:

    How long is the speech?
    Long enough to pray the Sorrowful Mysteries?

    Maybe the valedictorian in the crowd should
    start the prayer in a whisper,
    the person seated adjacent will join in a whisper,
    everyone praying everything, and let it spread outward,
    never letting the total volume rise above a whisper.

    A quiet whisper like God’s voice outside Elijah’s cave.

    Fr Patrick Peyton CSC pray for us!