Archbp. Carlson speak about Notre Dame, raises the right questions

From the the site stltoday.com

Carlson assails school’s plan to honor Obama

By Tim Townsend
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
05/15/2009

SAGINAW, MICH. — St. Louis Archbishop-elect Robert Carlson said the University of Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Barack Obama this weekend puts it at odds with church teaching and calls into question its future as a Catholic institution.

"Notre Dame has to figure out who they are — are they of the culture, or are they of the church?[That's the question, isn't it?] Carlson said in his first interview since Pope Benedict XVI assigned him to St. Louis last month. Carlson said the university’s actions will likely spark serious discussions with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Dozens of bishops and thousands of lay Catholics have protested Notre Dame’s decision to bestow an honorary degree on Obama — an abortion-rights supporter — at its commencement. Dozens of St. Louis Catholics are planning to drive together to South Bend this weekend to protest the commencement.

Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, who is now the head of the Vatican’s Supreme Apostolic Signatura, its highest court, said in a speech at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington last week that the honor is "a source of the gravest scandal."

"Catholic institutions cannot offer any platform to, let alone honor, those who teach and act publicly against the moral law," Burke said.

Carlson, scheduled to be installed as St. Louis’ archbishop on June 10, said Thursday he hoped Notre Dame officials were listening to his predecessor. "As the head of the Apostolic Signatura, (Burke’s) words carry great weight," [And his arguments carry even greater weight.]  he said. "And that’s something that if I were at Notre Dame I’d pay very close attention to."  [And Archbp. Burke is bound to hold other important positions in the future.]

Some bishops critical of Notre Dame have pointed to a document written by Pope John Paul II called "Ex Corde Ecclesiae," which describes the appropriate relationship between Catholic universities and the church[This is the important document which very few people are actually talking about.]

Part of that document says that "one consequence of its essential relationship to the Church is that the institutional fidelity of the University to the Christian message includes a recognition of and adherence to the teaching authority of the Church in matters of faith and morals."

It continues: "every Catholic University is to maintain communion with the universal Church and the Holy See; it is to be in close communion with the local Church and in particular with the diocesan Bishops of the region or nation in which it is located."

Carlson questioned Notre Dame administrators’ decision to invite Obama in the first place, citing the papal document.

"Whatever process they used was flawed" based on Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Carlson said. "I would say the university really has to sit down — its board, its administration — and reflect on what its role is, and what they’re going to be."

The archbishop-elect said he didn’t believe the Notre Dame situation had progressed to a point where the school should give up the title "Catholic," "but I think we are at the point that when this is finally over, that we’re going to have to sit down and have a heart-to-heart discussion about what is (Notre Dame’s) future."   [I think that "we" must mean the Catholic Bishops in the USA.]

That conversation, Carlson said, "will be very helpful for the church and I think it’ll be very helpful for Notre Dame." 

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13 Responses to Archbp. Carlson speak about Notre Dame, raises the right questions

  1. TNCath says:

    Archbishop Carlson said: The archbishop-elect said he didn’t believe the Notre Dame situation had progressed to a point where the school should give up the title “Catholic,” “but I think we are at the point that when this is finally over, that we’re going to have to sit down and have a heart-to-heart discussion about what is (Notre Dame’s) future.”

    I wonder if the Archbishop-designate has read the following article by Father Wilson Miscamble, C.S.C. in the September 10, 2007 issue of America:

    http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=10176

    If so, he might have a different perspective about the situation at Notre Dame.

  2. Fr. Michael says:

    TNCath, if I’m reading your comment correctly, I would gently respond that while Fr. Miscamble and I both share the sentiment that work must be done to ensure Catholic mission into the future, neither of us would be ready to say ND is no longer Catholic.

    I’m as disappointed as anyone else by President Obama’s reception of an honorary degree tomorrow, but over the course of these past weeks I have noticed an inability by commentators to make crucial distinctions between this one (albeit grand) event/situation and the overall context/picture within which ND exists and works. That is to say, the tremendous good that occurs daily on and off campus because of ND’s Catholic character and mission must be taken into consideration when pondering the future of the school.

    God bless.

  3. Bos Mutissimus says:

    Father Z: here is a dumb question (but then again, I am the Dumbest Ox) — why do they refer to Abp. Carlson as “Archbishop-*elect*?” He wasn’t “elected” at all, was he? I thought he was appointed by the Holy See. Should such a man — not yet installed in his See, that is — be categorized as “(Arch)bishop-*designate*?”

    Cheers, and thanks again for keeping such a great blog!

    Bos

  4. TJM says:

    Father Michael, I think you should remove “Father” Jenkins as president before the Signatura does it for you. I am a double-domer. I was raised on the Notre Dame Campus. I have asked that my name be removed from the Alumni mailing and I certainly don’t want to see the next edition of Notre Dame Magazine delivered to my home because it will be filled with bilge about Obama and “dialogue and discussion.” By the way, Mr. Obama is showing himself to be the Chicago thug I thought he was with his heavyhanded treatment of Chrysler basically overturning the “rule of law” to favor unions (big-time campaign contributors”) over the creditors that supplied Chrysler. Until the craven Jenkins regime is gone and Notre Dame leadership recovers its Catholic worldview I will not contribute another dime to what I consider just another good secular university. By the way, The University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana had a weekly Latin Mass on its campus long before “Catholic” Notre Dame and one of its priests hosts a weekly television show on EWTN on Catholicism on Campus. Notre Dame could take lessons from them. Tom

  5. Fr. Michael says:

    Tom,

    As a regular reader of WDTPRS I’m well aware of your willingness to withhold your money. It’s been noted….. multiple times. And, I think that that is a very sound way of protesting ND’s decisions. And certainly there exist many worthwhile institutions that are in need of donations, especially in this depressed economic environment. Personally, I’ve been thinking more and more of how I could support local Catholic houses for women in crisis pregnancies. May the Holy Spirit inspire you in your discernment in this whole regard.

    I’ve always heard good things about the Newman Center there in Urbana. I know Bishop Jenky, CSC speaks highly of it and the good work being done in Christ’s name there. God bless.

  6. TJM says:

    Father Michael, thanks for your kind response. You mention Bishop Jenky whom I know from my days at Notre Dame and have always held in very high regard. He has been extremely “quiet” shall we say regarding this debacle but he may not be able to much longer because if “news” reports are true, Father Jenkins alleges he had the support of the full board which would include Bishop Jenky. I cannot imagine Bishop Jenky being a party to an action which defies the express directives of the USCCB. I know you cannot comment on this, but I think this debacle will go on and could have negative consequences for Bishop Jenky as well if this is true. My parting thought is that if the bishops do not take firm action against Jenkins in this context then lukewarm Catholics will feel no problem with supporting pro-abortion policies and politicians and their fine words will be for naught. I can tell you this, most faithful Catholics I’ve spoken with (including many Notre Dame alum) believe Jenkins should be suspended from the priesthood at a minimum and some have stated he should be excommunicated publicly. Tom

  7. TNCath says:

    Father Michael,

    Thanks for your thoughts. Perhaps I misinterpreted Father Miscamble, but my impression from his essay was that it was possible that, based on the number of non-Catholic faculty and unless a concerted effort was made to hire committed Catholics in every department of the school who fully embraced Church teachings in light of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Notre Dame’s future as a Catholic institution was debatable.

  8. Mike says:

    This statement by Archbishop Burke surprised me: “Catholic institutions cannot offer any platform to, let alone honor, those who teach and act publicly against the moral law.”

    It seems to say that it is unacceptable for a Catholic university to allow those who differ with church teaching to speak, even in a context of debate and dialogue. But isn’t the issue with the President’s appearance the endorsement of his positions implicit in the commencement venue and honorary degree?

    Surely it’s not only acceptable, but desirable, for a Catholic university to engage, on campus, those who oppose Catholic doctrine.

    Mike

  9. Brother Ass says:

    AFAI’m concerned, ND gave up their Catholic identity in 1967 at the Land O’ Lakes conference when they spit in the face of ALL authority except their own.

  10. TLewis says:

    Are you seriously joking? Notre Dame Catholic Ha Ha, now that is funny. What will be seriously not funny is when Notre Dame returns to the Catholic Faith. Why will that be seriously not funny? Because being seriously Catholic is what Our Lord and Savior has required us to be. Notre Dame has consistently promoted the evil phrase, “I will not serve,” for the past 48 years. Curious – those are the very words that Satan replies to the Trinity when he was asked to serve our blessed Mother “Notre Dame.”

  11. dcs says:

    Surely it’s not only acceptable, but desirable, for a Catholic university to engage, on campus, those who oppose Catholic doctrine.

    Why would that be desirable or acceptable?

  12. RBrown says:

    Bos Mutissimus,

    The word “elect” simply means chosen. In the case of democracy, it means chosen by the voters. In the case of a bishop, it means chosen by the pope.

  13. raymond says:

    TJM,

    Bishop Jenky has recently come up my “blog’s” radar as his diocese has been zealously stamping out Communion on the tongue.
    k. c.