Doug Kmiec again with my emphases and comments.
Seizing the moment at Notre Dame
By: Douglas W. Kmiec
April 14, 2009 04:35 AM EST
Father John Jenkins, the president of the University of Notre Dame, probably yearns for days past when the only angry messages waiting for him related to rehiring head football coach Charlie Weis for a fifth season after Weis’ dismal 6-6 performance in 2008. Today, Jenkins is being targeted [pooor pooor poooor Fr. Jenkins] not by bad sports but by conservative Catholics sporting really bad attitudes about Notre Dame’s decision to welcome the president of the United States to campus next month to serve as commencement speaker.
The president recently returned from an extraordinarily successful visit to world capitals in association with the G-20 summit. [Ummm … successful by whose criteria? I believe that the President wanted to gather support from European leaders, for example, for military efforts and got nowhere with them. He bowed to a Saudi King. He blamed America for various ills. Great success!] The massive crowds in cities from London to Prague waiting for hours to catch a glimpse [This is the criterion of successs?] of the 44th president would be baffled by the ND-Obama rancor.
Well-acquainted with abortion politics in America, Notre Dame’s graduating class is less confounded. [Isn’t that a bit of an assumption? How well-acquainted would those students be with the Catholic arguments?] Indeed, an overwhelming majority are delighted [Again, crowds really impress Kmiec. Numbers apparently guide his judgments.] by the opportunity to have their special moment embellished by Barack Obama’s intelligence and eloquence. [Sorry, but this smacks of a sycophant.]
Some of the reaction to Obama is still post-election sour grapes. [Once again, Kmiec chooses to look at the issue through the lens of party politics. That is not why Catholics are upset about what is going on at Notre Dame.] Obama netted 54 percent of the Catholic vote nationwide, including a sizable share in Notre Dame’s home state of Indiana, where he became the first Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 to win the Hoosier State’s electoral votes. [See? Again it’s all about the numbers and not whether something is right or wrong.] Obama’s victory loosened the grip the GOP had on middle-income families, a result of Ronald Reagan’s likable personality and his stance against an abortion rate in excess of 1 million per year.
Obama’s views supporting abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research are pragmatic. Obama knows this is less than the absolute legal prohibition demanded by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America. [A clear demonstration of where Kmiec stands.]
Obama successfully found some common ground during the campaign by advocating abortion reduction with enhanced economic and social support, especially for poor, uninsured and often unemployed women. In addition, the president advocates stronger families and teenage responsibility. [He is pragmatic.]
Not enough. Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, who met with the president in the Oval Office on St. Paddy’s Day, can be seen on YouTube stirring up letter-writing and e-mail campaigns. [That is apparently a bad thing to do to The Wun. We must not stir discontent! We must … must…. we must… crawl… we must …. bow before his superior intellect… his eloquence…. oooooo] The local bishop in Indiana plans to boycott the graduation altogether.
Many Catholics, including this one, [Remember how important the numbers game is for Kmiec.] find it hard to reconcile this approach with the image of Christ in Matthew’s Gospel never turning away even “sinners and tax collectors,” though no one could blame Obama Cabinet officials for steering clear of tax collectors. [Riiiiiight… I wonder how much the IRS budget will be increased.] Jesus’ method was one of inclusion, teaching with generosity, forgiveness and truth — not snubbing those in high office. [Jesus didn’t snub anyone in high office?]
Of course, the truth of unborn life is disputed inside and outside the church. [It is, in fact, disputed. But the fact that there is a dispute doesn’t justify dissent.] Catholic teaching insists that the personhood of the unborn child is not just a matter of faith but of objective science and the natural moral law available to all. Science does confirm that the first fertilized cell is unique and different from mother and father. But scientists do not claim to establish when legal personhood begins — that, most say, remains a political judgment. For me, it is faith informed by love [how does he sleep?] — but that’s for another column. [Let’s think. “Science does confirm that the first fertilized cell is unique and different from mother and father…”. Excuse me, but science confirms a lot more than that the fertilized cell is unique and different from mother and father. How about science’s affirmation that the fertilized cell is alive, that it contains all the basic codes necessary for developing into a child capable of living outside of the mother’s womb, and that it, and not the mother, determines its own progress toward birth? “But scientists do not claim to establish when legal personhood begins — that, most say, remains a political judgment.” Duh! Of course scientists don’t make that claim. Legal personhood, by definition, is well…. a legal, and therefore, political judgment. What scientists can do is to affirm that the embryo and fetus constitute human life. What the Catholic Church teaches is that human life is a continuum from conception to natural death. Just as this life from the embryonic stage gradually takes on greater and greater capacities, older human beings gradually lose many of those capabilities as they approach death. If legal personhood can be denied to an embryo, it can be denied to an elderly human being suffering any number of debilitations. Sooo… will someone please explain how this guy Kmiec was ever considered a pro-life advocate?]
Will Obama talk about these differences at ND? He is courageous enough to do so, [he’s so dreamy…] and he is overdue for a Catholic moment. [an empty phrase] Unlike his masterful dominance [he’s such a dreamboat…] of the rest of the national conversation, Obama has let the right wing frame his post-election ties to the Catholic constituency.
For example, when Obama suspended George W. Bush’s hastily drafted eleventh-hour conscience clause regulations, the word went out that this was the end of Catholic hospitals. Not so, but to make the point, the Obama team needed to highlight well-established federal and state laws that already permit medical personnel with moral and religious objection to refrain from abortion practice. [That’s right… Obama is all about protecting the consciences of Catholics.]
Of equal importance is reminding America of how his administration has already assumed the mantle of Catholicism [WHAT?!? The Obama Admin. has "assumed the mantle of Catholicism"?] in winding down the war in Iraq, establishing a greater social safety net for the poor, setting out a bold plan for eliminating nuclear weapons and jump-starting a serious interfaith conversation with Islam, long sought by the Holy Father himself. [Here’s one of the real points of this article: “Of equal importance is reminding America of how his administration has already assumed the mantle of Catholicism in winding down the war in Iraq, establishing a greater social safety net for the poor, setting out a bold plan for eliminating nuclear weapons and jump-starting a serious interfaith conversation with Islam, long sought by the Holy Father himself.” “Already assumed the mantle of Catholicism”? And how does Pres. Obama do this? 1) “Winding down the war in Iraq”. Not quite. First of all, didn’t the One promise during the campaign to withdraw all US troops within 90 days of taking office? The latest estimate from the White House is 2011. And if anyone deserves credit for winding down the war in Iraq, it’s George W Bush and his faith in The Surge. 2) “Establishing a greater social safety net for the poor”: Where? What net? 3) “Setting out a bold plan for eliminating nuclear weapons”: This must be a reference to his speech in Prague, in which he said he wanted to eliminate nuclear weapons. So where’s the “bold plan” to accomplish this? 4) “Jump-starting a serious interfaith conversation with Islam, long sought by the Holy Father himself”: Right. And where did The Wun do the jump-starting? Or is this a reference to his remark in Turkey that we are not at war with Islam and that the US is not a nation of Christians, or Jews or Muslims, but of citizens. Yes, I can see the Holy Father jumping up and clapping like ardent-Catholic Pelosi at hearing this.]
At Notre Dame, Obama might remind all of us not to make the perfect the enemy of the good. [Creeepy… I use this phrase on the blog and in conversations all the time. I feel like a need a shower now.] On May 17, as he stands at the foot of Our Lady’s Golden Dome, it will be 85 years to the day the Notre Dame Irish beat back the lit torches of Ku Klux Klan hatred that had spilled onto the campus. Three-quarters of a century ago, plus 10 years, the “fighting Irish” defeated the ignorance and prejudice of the KKK with their fists. [What just happened… is he suggesting that resistance to Pres. Obama is racial? Are people putting pressure on ND now version of the KKK?]
Today, they and we are blessed to use our minds — if they are open.