Bp. D’Arcy (where U. Notre Dame is) speaks

On the site of the Diocese of Fort-Wayne-South Bend, we find this statement:

It does not have Bishop D’Arcy’s name on it, but it is clear that it is his statement since it is on the diocesan website page for the Communications Office and it is in the first person.

My emphases.

Concerning President Barack Obama speaking at Notre Dame
graduation, receiving honorary law degree

March 24, 2009

On Friday, March 21, Father John Jenkins, CSC, phoned to inform me that President Obama had accepted his invitation to speak to the graduating class at Notre Dame and receive an honorary degree. We spoke shortly before the announcement was made public at the White House press briefing. It was the first time that I had been informed that Notre Dame had issued this invitation.

President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred. While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life.

This will be the 25th Notre Dame graduation during my time as bishop. After much prayer, I have decided not to attend the graduation. I wish no disrespect to our president, I pray for him and wish him well. I have always revered the Office of the Presidency. But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith “in season and out of season,” and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.

My decision is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life.

I have in mind also the statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 2004. “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” Indeed, the measure of any Catholic institution is not only what it stands for, but also what it will not stand for.

I have spoken with Professor Mary Ann Glendon, who is to receive the Laetare Medal. I have known her for many years and hold her in high esteem. We are both teachers, but in different ways. I have encouraged her to accept this award and take the opportunity such an award gives her to teach.

Even as I continue to ponder in prayer these events, which many have found shocking, so must Notre Dame. Indeed, as a Catholic University, Notre Dame must ask itself, if by this decision it has chosen prestige over truth.

Tomorrow, we celebrate as Catholics the moment when our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, became a child in the womb of his most holy mother. Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for the university named in her honor, that it may recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. therese b says:

    “While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics”

    “What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed”

  2. Mike says:

    Wasn’t Notre Dame founded in rebellion against or in contravention of a bishop’s directive? It seems we have come full circle…

  3. Bryan says:

    Or…he could have forbidden (much like Cdl Egan in NYC) NDU to continue to hold itself out as a Catholic institution since they have continued to do their best to deny their responsibility as such.

    Does anyone really think ND cares whether the bishop shows up? That’s one less VIP to deal with.

    When faced with a moral question…follow the $$$. Serve God, who’s reward is some nebulous point in the future, or serve man, who can make your life comfortable in the here and now?

    Sad. But, based on the open rebellion of most ‘catholic’ universities since 1967 and the stunning yawn with which Ex Corde Ecclesiae was received, not unexpected, huh?

  4. DarkKnight says:

    Perhaps the Bishop would care to host a Mass with a reception following for Ambassador Glendon at the cathedral might be nice. An opportunity to show which honoree was worthy of being elevated by Holy Mother Church.

    President Obama holds the bishop in contempt, there is little need to worry about the feelings of a tin-plated messiah.

  5. Sandy says:

    At least he has the backbone to take a stand and publicly announce that he will not attend. God bless him for that!

  6. JML says:

    Nice statement, Your Excellency. However, wishy-washy in my opinion. Sparing the rod does spoil the child.

    A stronger rebuke may have been in order with salient points from the USCCB and His Holiness (and those of his predecessors) on the sanctity of human life.

    After setting forth the teaching moment, a statement such as “Despite my fervent objections, the administration and faculty of Notre Dame will receive President Obama at their commencement. As Bishop of this diocese I cannot participate in such a “celebration”. Instead, I will offer a Requiem Mass on that day at the Cathedral Church at 10 AM to pray for the millions of infants who have been slaughtered by abortion.

    My blessings to the graduates of the Notre Dame Class of 2010. May you continue to witness to the sanctity of human life.”

  7. Kimberley Utterson says:

    I applaud Bishop D’Arcy’s decision.

    My alma mater, Notre Dame’s mantra is, above all, “God, Country, Notre Dame.” It is here, that my problem with ND inviting Obama to speak resides. In this instance, I think that ND has put “Country” before “God.”

    Recently, Obama has taken some of the most anti-life actions of any American President, including expanding federal funding for abortions and inviting tax-payer funded research on stem cells from human embryos. Not content with legal abortion-on-demand in this country, he seeks to foist the same policy on the rest of the world by rescinding the Mexico City Policy, which previously kept U.S. tax dollars from funding groups working to subvert the pro-life laws of countries overseas; and he seeks to export abortion around the world through his policies and appointments at the United Nations, including providing U.S. funding to the United Nations Population Fund, actively involved in China’s coerced-abortion program. Similarly, not content with Roe v. Wade, he champions the “Freedom of Choice Act,” (FOCA) which would nullify something like five hundred or so state and federal laws which impose modest, limited regulations on the unfettered right to abortion. Signing the FOCA would be “the first thing I’d do as president,” he promised the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

    His support for these policies and laws directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and, as a result, Notre Dame is breaking it’s own manta of “God, Country, Notre Dame” by putting “Country” before “God” and embarrassing our Lady. Bishop D’Arcy’s action of not attending the commencement, while is disappointing for those who graduate this year, further substantiates that Notre Dame made the wrong decision in inviting Obama to speak this year.

    -Kimberley Utterson, Notre Dame Class of 2003

  8. I think it was necessary for the bishop to respond to this, and take a stand. He has done so. I also believe it is his place, not ours, to decide how harshly he chooses to deal with this. Some believe he must “go nuclear” at this point; perhaps that is warranted, perhaps not. But it is not, to my mind, self-evident.

    After all, the bishop wants to reel ND back in, and I would hope everyone else wants the same. I’m not in a position to second-guess him.

  9. William says:

    Bishop D’Arcy should remove the faculties of Father John Jenkins, CSC

  10. Jimbo says:

    When I read Bishop D’Arcy’s statement, my first impression was “he’s being soft with them again.” But the overriding impression the statement left with me was this:

    Bishop D’Arcy will not attend. Don’t take this lightly, because Bishop D’Arcy LOVES Notre Dame. It will be painful for him not to attend. This might be a stronger statement than it appears to be at first, because “where the bishop is, there is the Catholic Church” is still bouncing around in my thoughts. Did my bishop mean to leave that impression? The bishop will NOT be at Notre Dame.

    How many other people from Notre Dame will be with him on that day, instead of attending their own graduation or their own university’s activities?

  11. Tom says:

    For a Catholic college or university to reject Magisterial influence in favor of an internal, self-constructed idee-du-jour, ready to serve the academic pursuit or desire of the moment sounds vaguely familiar to me…

    “To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell.”

  12. Vincent says:


    Knowing Msgr. D’Arcy, I think you’re exactly right.

  13. Kay says:

    “Notre Dame must ask itself, if by this decision it has chosen prestige over truth.”

    That was exactly my thought when I heard about this invitation.

    I’m happy that the bishop made this statement. It doesn’t need to be fire and brimstone; it might, in fact, be more effective as it is plainly stated.

  14. Brian Day says:

    While I have no facts to back this up, this sounds like a shot across the bow. Perhaps +D’Arcy is giving Notre Dame a chance to reconsider and save face before imposing any sanctions.

  15. Steve K. says:

    Could you imagine the fallout if Bishop D’Arcy even threatened to withdraw the Catholic imprimatur from Notre Dame? That would be a real shot heard around the world.

    I suspect you are right, this is a shot across the bow, but I am very pessimistic that it is going to fall on receptive ears there, where it matters. This isn’t an isolated incident (V-Monologues, etc.), after all.

  16. Paul Haley says:

    If the president had any class at all he would politely refuse the invitation, knowing full well the impact it would have on church-state relations. But, he has no class and that is evident to me because he appoints catholics to positions in his administration that he knows will not set well with the hierarchy or the vast majority of catholics. That said, the responsibility of Fr. Jenkins is clear – he must withdraw the invitation and suffer the consequences. Watch the pro-choice crowd howl over that!

  17. Steve K. says:


    It’s not so much about class – the President must be overjoyed by this opportunity, because it gives him another powerful tool to break the back of Catholic resistance to his inhuman and un-Godly plans regarding human life. He will perceive clearly what this means – he will receive the assistance of rebellious Catholics who dissent from Church teaching in silencing faithful Catholics who would oppose him. In return, he strengthens the hand of the dissenters so that they may prevail against the faithful in the struggle to control the Church (as well as increase their esteem and wordly success in the by-now-quite-anti-Christian American society at large). He knows exactly what he is doing and would never squander this chance given to him by Father Jenkins and ND.

    There is a war against the Church ongoing in America today and it is growing in intensity and bitterness. This scandal is another battle in that war. Sadly, we have to contend with an external foe and a Fifth Column.

  18. Rancher says:

    In justifying his terrible decision, Jenkins the president of ND, made the ridiculous claim that this would provide an opportunity for dialogue and discussion with the president of the United States on issues that the Church and BO disagree on. What blatant bull. There will be no discussion and no dialogue. fr. Jenkins did not invite BO to engage in a debate. He will have a platform to say, unchallenged, whatever the heck he wants. And,the conferring of an honorary degree is an endorsement of the merchant of death no matter how you cut it. Whether those with the authority to do so remove the title “Catholic” from ND the university has, de facto, given up any claim to be Catholic. I hope that monetary donations to ND go in the toilet after this unjustifiable decision. Money talks and if donations go down so too will the PC president of the institution.

  19. Bishop D’Arcy celebrated Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus on Thursday evening, for the feast of St. Joseph. It would have honored his episcopal office if president Jenkins would have told him in person, rather than calling him in the morning.

  20. ken says:

    People who do bad things never change if they aren’t disciplined. Parents know this; employers know this; the hierarchy of the Church doesn’t. This is another weak response from a weak bishop to a priest who needs to have his nose shoved into the steaming pile of you no what that he left in the middle of the living room.

  21. Michael says:

    As a resident of South Bend, I must say that for those who feel that the Bishop is being wishy-washy or some such nonsense, I can only respond that our Bishop is a great man who has had to deal with more than one affront from ND. This may be the largest, but it is not the only. You cannot comprehend the power that the University wields in our area, and while I know that, in a perfect world, this would not matter, we are not in a perfect world. D’Arcy has made his views on the matter clear, and is perhaps waiting on a response from Notre Dame.

    I am so happy with this great Bishop who I have noting but the highest esteem for. Perhaps he could have been more strict, perhaps not. I do not think it is for us to decide. The political and pastoral issues are more than we know. Give him the benefit of the doubt. This is a Bishop after all.


  22. D says:

    Well, looks like the Bishop will be missing out on a wonderful ceremony! Also, and opportunity to witness to the President on abortion.

  23. TNCath says:

    With great respect and admiration for Bishop D’Arcy’s decision to not attend the graduation ceremonies as well as the powerful statement he made, I am not sure this goes far enough. Moreover, wouldn’t Bishop D’Arcy’s encouraging Mary Ann Glendon to NOT accept the Laetare Medal have been a stronger statement?

    I sincerely wish that Bishop D’Arcy would tell Notre Dame that the game is up, and that it is time to decide whether or not it is a Catholic university.

  24. rags says:

    I have to agree with Fr. Fox – we should respect the actions of Bp. D’Arcy because he has in fact proclaimed the Truth. Do we all wish he was a little more forceful? Of course, but we were not appointed bishops of Fort Wayne – South Bend. He was. So let’s support him and pray for him that his words and actions may take root in the hearts of the faithful.

    Someone above stated that Pres. O’Bama should know that “a vast majority of Catholics” will be upset about his acceptance. I just want to remind everyone that the majority of Catholics in this country voted for him! And the majority of our Bishops remained silent. So, I think the president is soaking up all this Catholic spotlight.

    So what do we do? Pray, like never before and then get into the trenches! Go work at your parish and teach CCD; take a pay cut and go teach in a Catholic school; have kids and raise them up in the faith; put a picture of the Pope on your desk and tell all your co-workers how awesome he is; give financial support to all the orthodox schools and religious orders you know of…

    I know I’m preaching to the choir but I just wanted to throw out some words of encouragement.

    Above all, be at peace, be joyful and be positive. Our society is so negative, depressed and self-centered, that when they see a Christian who is filled with the peace and joy and light of Christ they can’t help but be drawn to Him.

    Keep up the great work Fr. Z! Long live the Pope, and may all his enemies be converted before they perish!

  25. rags says:

    Sorry about the type-O (O’Bama for Obama) – It must have been my subconscious longing for a good Irish Catholic President!

  26. Mark says:

    A well worded, strong statement. I’m sure ND President knows how to read between the lines and understands where the institution he leads stands now with respect to its identity as Catholic.

    But to spell it out – it stands under a question mark.

  27. TNCath says:

    Sorry folks, but this the umpteenth time Notre Dame has thumbed its nose at the Church and, specifically, Bishop D’Arcy. Notre Dame has been given many, many, many chances to change its ways and hasn’t. I applaud Bishop D’Arcy for his patience and persistence. I respect his authority and his judgment on this matter and admire him very much for what he has done, but one does not have to be a bishop to see that under the present circumstances Notre Dame has no intentions of paying attention to Bishop D’Arcy or the Church now or in the future. Eventually, unless we have some direct intervention from the Holy Spirit very soon, Bishop D’Arcy or his successor will be faced with the inevitable: to announce that Notre Dame is no longer a Catholic institution.

  28. Chris says:

    Um, OK, and?

    More talk, talk, talk.

    He should be on the first plane to Rome to figure out how to take his university back from the darkness.

  29. Jim Reilly says:

    Wouldn’t it be grand if as the President was addressing the graduates, Bishop D’Arcy was offering a Solemn High Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart across campus for the forty million plus babies murdered. Those who choose not to attend the graduation could go to Mass and stand in solidarity with their church. What a powerful prayer.

  30. TNCath says:

    Chris wrote: “He should be on the first plane to Rome to figure out how to take his university back from the darkness.”

    I think it would be safe to say he has been in contact with either Archbishop Sambi or someone in Rome already.

  31. Chris says:

    TNCath: “I think it would be safe to say he has been in contact with either Archbishop Sambi or someone in Rome already.”


    He’s been the ordinary there for 25 years. What, do you think Notre Dame just fell into heresy this spring?

  32. DarkKnight says:

    I think that we’re taking the wrong approach.

    The bishop has spoken clearly.

    However, the bishop cannot discipline the president of the University. Perhaps a nice letter to the appropriate congregation in Rome, with a similar one addressed to the Jesuit Superior. We are applying pressure in the wrong places, it needs to go where it will do some good.

  33. Frank H says:

    Darkknight, ND priests are not Jesuits, they are Holy Cross.

  34. TNCath says:


    No, I am very aware of what Notre Dame has been up to. So has Rome. Just because Vatican officials know what’s going on doesn’t mean they are going to do anything.

    DarkKnight, Notre Dame is sponsored by the Congregation of the Holy Cross, not the Jesuits.

  35. White Knight says:


    I realised back in the early 90’s that the best view of the dome was in the rear view mirror. The tail wags the dog up there.

    “You cannot comprehend the power that the University wields in our area” seems a lot more to me like “Never underestimate the power of the dark side” from a certain space opera with another man in black.

    You’re absolutely right. Notre Dame has used its influence to save students from what would have had any non-ND student in prison. Driving drunk from a bar late at night, plastering a woman walking on the side of the road, or covering up the near fatal and certainly life altering (paralysis) of a chinese student that was struck by a faculty member driving under the influence.

    ND has WAY too much power in that little town.

    My whole family used to make mini-pilgrimages (about 3 miles to be exact) to the grotto a couple times a year. These are some of my earliest memories. But those were days long long ago. Those days are a distant memory. Maybe this will be enough to wake up the alumni and bring some sanity back to this once great pillar of Catholicism.

  36. John Enright says:

    This is a great statement. We need more of theses types of statements from bishops.

  37. DavidJ says:

    DarkKnight: In a diocese, the bishop reigns supreme, regardless of a priest being in an order. Granted, there’s a long tradition of formality in the areas I’ve lived in of the bishop going along with an order’s decision, but make no mistake: any priest serving in a given diocese serves at the bishop’s discretion.

  38. I also was very surprised that the bishop encouraged Mary Ann Glendon to attend and accept the Laetare Medal. If the bishop thinks it is wrong for him to attend the graduation, shouldn’t it also be wrong for her to attend?

    And for what reason? So she would receive teaching opportunities with the Laetare Medal on her resume! Doesn’t sound right to me…

  39. supertradmom says:

    Hooray for the Bishop of South Bend! And, I feel that this is not the last we shall hear from his excellency on this subject. I hope the graduates boycott their own commencement.

  40. Latter-day Guy says:

    Bravo to the Bishop! What a wonderful example.

  41. fortradition says:

    Nice that the bishop responded. However, I wasn’t impressed as I don’t believe he went far enough. I think N.D. should be stricken from the list of Catholic Universities and no longer be considered Catholic according to the Papal document Ex Corde Ecclesia written by Pope John Paul II. (What good is a Papal document if it isn’t enforced!!!) This is not the first misstep by Fr. Jenkins. If you recall he allowed the obscene play at N.D. a few years ago also. The Holy Father should step in and excommunicate Fr. Jenkins. If no real action takes place from the hierarchy, this kind of thing will continue.

  42. I am wondering…..

    With Bishop D’Arcy’s statement out, will we now see a flood of statements, even if only in interview format, from other bishops?

    How long will it take Abp Burke to weigh in?

  43. joe says:

    As if any further proof were needed, this only goes to show what a Hell-spawn the Land O’Lakes agreement has been.


  44. Tantumergo says:

    The track record of “withholding the rod” is abysmal. Is the history lesson of Thomas a’ Becket and Henry II completely lost?

  45. Jim says:

    It is depressing to think that this University, named in honor of She who conceived the Immortal Word in her womb, is about to confer an HONORARY degree on he who would promote the slaying of innocent beings in their mothers’ wombs. Tomorrow is the feast of the Annunciation. I will pray to the Mother of God for the conversion of those who have led us into this morass.

    When I was received into the Church, it was the practice to recite prayers for the conversion of Russia at the end of each Sunday mass, after the Last Gospel. The prayers of the Mother of God led to collapse of communism and restoration of the Orthodox Church in Russia. May her constant prayers and intercessions bring an end to abortion and the dictatorship of relativism. Amen.

  46. Steve K. says:

    In addition to everything else, you know this is a big middle finger to the bishops who took a stand on abortion during the election. Another public demonstration by the Obama government to the bishops of the Catholic Church that they are not masters in their own house, and he couldn’t have done this without the willing assistance of men of the cloth. For that alone, Bishop D’Arcy should bring wrath down on ND.

  47. Peter says:

    If I understood his letter correctly, Bishop D’Arcy is encouraging Mary Ann Glendon to accept the Laetare Medal for the teaching opportunity on that commencement day – not for future teaching opportunities! When she accepts the award, she can teach the prez of the U.S. and the prez of ND about the sanctity of human life.

  48. Peter, you are probably right. Maybe I misread the intent. But how will she “teach the prez”? Surely, she won’t say anything in her acceptance speech that will embarress herself or the president…

  49. Amado Cruz says:

    I think that Steve K. has a good handle on this (about the war being waged against the church). I am the parent of an ND alumni ( my daughter) and I am not waiting for any bishop to declare what is already evident: ND is no longer catholic; and it hasn’t been for a long time. The University can say it is catholic until it is blue in the face, but it doesn’t make it so. I applaud Bishop D’Arcy for his courage. President Obama is licking his chops and he is going to get a lot of mileage out of this. Notre Dame has set the pro-life movement back 30 years.

  50. Nick says:

    “Bishop D’Arcy should remove the faculties of Father John Jenkins, CSC”

    Actually Bishop D’Arcy should immediately remove the faculties of all the Holy Cross Fathers in his diocese and afford them a much needed opportunity to go on retreat. But he won’t.

  51. It’s something, but can’t he do more? Why do we even have bishops? Perhaps we can just have one big US diocese. We can send seminarians to Rome and have them ordained by the Pope.
    Seriously, our bishops have to learn that the “teaching moment” is long long past. In our society, people only understand sanctions. They don’t like them and will complain about them even when justly applied, but people understand them. And if people know they will suffer a penalty, they’ll think twice about doing something.
    Did Notre Dame intend to embarras the bishops? I don’t know. But, an academic institution surely has someone with a brain who knows Obama stands against innocent human life at its earliest stanges. Stripping Notre Dame of its Catholic credentials (the little that it has left) will hit them in the pocket book as practicing Catholics reconsider sending their kids there.

  52. Vincent says:

    “Actually Bishop D’Arcy should immediately remove the faculties of all the Holy Cross Fathers in his diocese and afford them a much needed opportunity to go on retreat. But he won’t.”

    Yes, so a quarter of the people of our diocese can go without the sacraments. That would just be ideal.

    Sorry for sarcasm.

    A few years back, Msgr. D’Arcy stopped the University of St. Francis in Ft. Wayne from having a pro-choice commencement speaker. This is not a question of will — it’s a question of politics.

  53. Fr. Darrell Roman says:

    Dear Readers,
    Please go to http://www.notredamescandal.com and add your name to the other
    individuals who signed the petition opposing Notre Dame’s decision to host
    and honor President Obama at commencement. As of today March 25th the Feast
    of the Annunciation there are more than 104,000 signers!!!

  54. D said:
    Well, looks like the Bishop will be missing out on a wonderful ceremony! Also, and opportunity to witness to the President on abortion.

    What opportunity? This won’t be a public debate, or a town hall meeting, or any other forum where ideas can be exchanged, challenged, etc. Any information exchange will be one-way, from the podium to the audience.

    The Bishop’s non-attendance speaks louder about the importance of the issues than anything he could say to the President at the commencement, and it does it in a much more public way. The way I see it, this statement from the Bishop is witnessing to the President about abortion.

  55. Kevin says:

    What would be most interesting is to get a public statement from Bishop Dan Jenky, CSC, bishop of Peoria, IL. He was the former rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Were he to come out against this move, it would show a strong dissenting voice from a Holy Cross religious and might be moving to some more people.

  56. Aaron says:

    “Some believe he must “go nuclear” at this point; perhaps that is warranted, perhaps not. But it is not, to my mind, self-evident.

    After all, the bishop wants to reel ND back in, and I would hope everyone else wants the same. I’m not in a position to second-guess him.”

    As much as I feel concrete canonical action is absolutely necessary, I agree with Fr. Martin that sanctions have a _medicinal_ purpose, and thus His Excellency (far more than we on the boards) has to think very hard about what move is best calculated to achieve that remedial aim.

    One thing that I think weighs against any nuclear option, is that such would – and bear me out – simply be unfair to the university. Don’t get me wrong, losing the Catholic name would be entirely deserved, but think of this example. A child who misbehaves is told to stop without any follow-through and turns into a disobedient monster. If the parents ever wise up, they need to recognize their own share of the blame: by not punishing the child they have formed a tacit agreement that misbehavior will be tolerated. To rehabilitate the child they cannot jump to lifetime grounding and starvation techniques, rather they must slowly and incrementally form disciplined, virtuous habits.

    Bp. D’Arcy has been Notre Dame’s local ordinary for a quarter century, and for all I know it may be to his credit that Notre Dame is a far more faithful institution than when he came to town (the university was a heretical cesspool in the 70s and 80s). But the fact remains that he has not followed through on his statements and the repeated effrontery of university officials has gone unpunished. If the university is to be reformed – which a significant minority of faculty and students so desperately desire – it is up to the bishop to be a responsible parent and incrementally undo the damage he has abetted through inaction.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Bp. D’Arcy is, as American bishops go, a fine bishop, one who can always be trusted to speak out about immorality within the diocese. His decision to boycott is concrete and direct, and more than I suspect many other bishops would do. But he and the rest of our nation’s hierarchy _must_ learn that merely expressing disapproval does not remove present scandal or prevent future scandal. The bishops’ present public impotence is almost entirely of their own making. Only a restoration of ecclesiastical discipline to its divinely intended place in communal life will give them the voice for which they have been called. Let us pray that Bp. D’Arcy finds the wisdom and courage to use his sword in a way that causes his sheep to hearken to his voice.

  57. Aaron says:

    As for Bp. Jenky, I think it is imperative that we write to him and encourage public action. This is for two reasons:

    1) As a bishop he has a responsibility to witness to his own flock about the inappropriateness of the university’s behavior (maybe not for any old university but definitely for scandals that make the press in Peoria).

    2) As a university fellow one of his duties, by university by-law, is to protect the Catholic identity of the institution.

    His continued close ties to ND would be enough to invoke number one, but number two means he has undertaken resistance as a personal obligation beyond his episcopal office. Let us pray his lives up to it.

  58. Lori Ann says:

    Hi, Father Z.

    Are you up to taking us through America Magazine’s latest article on this topic, Three Cheers for Notre Dame, written by Michael Sean Winters? You’d have a field day.

    No, I do not subscribe.

  59. Joan says:

    Teach. Govern. Sanctify.

  60. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I’m glad to see him stand up on some level and recognize that it is just wrong that ND has not done this, and by not showing up himself he is reducing the significance of scandal that this entails. It is certainly easier now to see this as an act of defiance by an increasingly secularized university instead of something which might actually be supported by the Church.

    On the other hand, I think he should have made an even stronger statement than this, that he should have come right out and said that a Catholic university has no right granting an honorary law degree to a man whose legal career is so diametrically opposed to Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life. I mean, despite the problem of him speaking, the real scandal is that he is being granted an honorary law degree. And I think the bishop needs to be stronger than this. I applaud him greatly for not showing up, but there is a big part of me that thinks it is not enough. I don’t know.

  61. Patrick says:

    Lest we forget,

    Notre Dame is the home, for quite a few repeat years as I understand it, for that paragon of Am. Theater, “The Vagina Monologues.”


    The same pap was uttered by Fr. Jenkins in its defense, i.e., another ‘wonderful opportunity to dialog.’

    Time to kick the bums out. Where is our manhood? (Womanhood).

  62. Adam says:

    Something smells of hypocrisy here in this whole matter of the invitation to the president of the united states to speak at Notre Dame.
    1. Following his election, Pope Benedict sent very wam congratulations to the new president and wished him all the best – after all the US and the vatican have diplomatic ties.
    2. The president has recently met with cardinal George in the oval office.
    3. The president called Arch Dolan after his appointment to NY see – I didn’t hear that the archbishop refused to take the call.
    4. The president was at the Al Smith dinner prior to the election with the NY cardinal – I didn’t see the cardinal attack him when he Obama was a guest of his.
    5. The president has never come out stating that he is in favour of abortion – if so, let people show the statements that he has made.
    But above all, Obama is president of all americans and deserves to be treated as such. Does it now mean he can’t meet and speak with catholics at any level.
    Come next June, when he is in Italy for the G8 meeting, he will most probably visit the vatican to meet the pope, like all previous presidents. This meeting will go ahead it WILL HAPPEN and the pontiff will be gracious and receive the elected president.
    It would behove bishops to act courteously as the Pope does and will to all invitees – Obama has as much right to that courtesy and less of the hypocrisy that is now swirling around.
    Are we to take it that no cardinal, no usa bishop will ever again meet with the President nor invite him to speak? Has pres Clinton now been banished forever because he had a brief affair with a 20 something girl in the oval office?
    I think there is a huge amount of soul searching to be done here by some bishops. Yes abortion is morally reprehensible. Yes it is morally wrong and the Church teaches such. But the president is not one who has advocated that as president and the tem cell debate ought not remove him from speaking freely when invited to do so.
    Besides, have the critics attacked the vatican for holding talks (mostly private) with the Chinese communist party on creating diplomatic ties between the two parties? Catholic bishops have been to China, have held talks with party leaders – and these are the men in China who sanction abortions, a one-child policy and also carry out executions every day by their death penalty policy, something the vatican does not agree with.
    So, when was the last time the critics atacked the pope and his curia for meeting with the communist leaders who follow a culture of death?
    I have not seen Obama agreeing to the death penalty nor advocating a one-chile policy nor the abortion of any child born after the first in a family.
    Let’s get things in perspective.

  63. Andrew says:

    I think that the Bishop’s statement is appropriate and apposite. ‘Manners maketh man’, and the Bishop has made all the right points, but in a manner which is thoroughly dignified and courteous.

    Indeed, it would have done more harm than good for the Bishop to have ‘gone nuclear’; people know what the Catholic Church teaches on stem-cell research and abortion, and this measured statement, which will no doubt be read by President Obama and many non-Catholics, will have made the point in a much more effective way than would have been achieved by a more shrill tone.

  64. Adam says:

    One addtional point that no one seems to have noted in the context of this invitation:
    Last year the President of France, Mr Sarkozy was received by the pope at the vatican, after which the president went to St John Laterna, the pope’s episcopal cathedral, and there was made a CANON of the basilica. Nothing unusual about that for a French president as it’s historically accurate.
    BUT, the president of France is a CATHOLIC and has been married THREE times.
    Isn’t there a massive hypocrisy here that smells badly?
    Three times married as a catholic and he is created a canon of the Church? And it all happened in the presence of cardinals and bishops.
    Has anyone got an answer for this act that had vatican sanction?
    Have the critics of the notre dame invite any answer to this?
    It seems really relevant now in light of a non-catholic being invited to a catholic university.

  65. Chris says:

    MSNBC just did a short piece on the bishop not attending.

  66. Adam:

    I am not able to keep up with politics and morality in Europe, so I am unable to comment on the item about Sarkozy. But in any case, just because the rot is worse elsewhere, is no reason not to act prevent rot here, because it’s still not as bad.

    As far as Cardinal George meeting the President in his office, or the President being received at the Vatican, I think those are entirely different. President Obama is welcome to come to any church; and he would be welcome to come by for a cup of coffee at the rectory anytime. But he should not be welcome to step into the pulpit; nor should he be given honors by Catholic institutions. And I see absolutely no parallel whatsoever with a messenger of Christ visiting the President in the Oval Office.

  67. mariadevotee says:

    Adam, meeting with Obama is not the same as giving him a platform to talk and an honorary degree. We are called to admonish the sinner and to do that, we have to talk to them. Letting them be the star of the show and an honored guest is a different matter.

  68. Veritas says:

    Thank you, Father Fox. That, to me, is the critical issue: a ‘Catholic’ institution is giving this man an award (of sorts), and not just any award, but an honory degree of LAW. Yet, his legal philosophy and politcs is contrary to fundamental issues that Catholicism teaches the law should uphold. He has no respect for the natural law. Such a symbolic gesture undercuts the efforts of the Church (all of us) to reform society according to what we hold as sacred. That is, I am sure, the root of the pain that so many have expressed. I expected to see anger as reaction (especially in the Wild West blogosphere), but instead all I’ve seen is pain akin to Caesar asking, “et tu, Brute?” Pax.

  69. Charivari Rob says:

    This morning, Whispers is excerpting a CNS item from yesterday, with comments from the administration of Notre Dame (apparently from the 23rd).


    Father Jenkins makes a few statements, including…

    “The invitation to President Obama to be our commencement speaker should not be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of human life, including abortion and embryonic stem-cell research,”

    Sidestep and misdirection.

    Even if one could argue that it is possible to engage President Obama as an informative and even educational speaker on any number of issues with which he has experience without compromising the school’s obligation to Catholic values (which is not a given) – Father Jenkins omits the fact that the University will go the extra step and honor President Obama.

  70. William says:


    If the diocese lost the services of the Holy Cross Fathers it would be a splendid opportunity for the Fraternity, the Institute, and the Cantians to step in and fill the gap. The people of the diocese would be much better off for it.

  71. William says:

    17 May is a Sunday. There can be no Masses for the Dead on that day. But it is a good idea.

  72. Chris says:

    this is about to come on again on MSNBC any second now.

  73. taad says:

    When reading the letter from the bishop, recall the recent letter from the pope to the
    bishops. Support the pope and the bishops who are trying to keep it all together.
    Let’s not eat one another. The bishop should be thanked for his comments, and supported.

  74. Joel Raines says:

    All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
    Is the Archbishop doing nothing or something by not going to the ceremony?? I’m not sure

  75. Joel Raines says:

    All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
    Is the Archbishop doing nothing? or something? by not attending?? I am not sure.

  76. georgeaquinas says:

    Bishop D’Arcey is my Bishop and he is a fine Bishop. There is another point to consider in all of this. Bishop D’Arcey is retiring soon (he turns 75 in August). I am sure that there will be much deliberation in regards to appointing his successor. The correction of Notre Dame will take some time to accomplish. Perhaps Bishop D’Arcey is leaving it to his successor the begin the process. I am sure that there have been discussions about this incident in the Vatican. His Holiness is also a “fan” of Notre Dame. I hope that the the Notre Dame is brought back into the fold—or I should say, those parts of it that are not in the fold are brought in. Just my thoughts.

  77. TerryC says:

    Very nice straw men Adam.
    Obama doesn’t have to state he thinks abortion is alright, his actions in funding it, supporting laws which expand it, and stating that he is “pro-choice” a euphemism for “pro-abortion”, which is itself a euphemism for “pro-murder of innocents who are inconvenient” shows it.
    No one says we shouldn’t talk to people who are sinful, not even those who are guilty of sins which are intrinsically evil. We should not be honoring them. Being invited to give a commencement address is not “dialog.” It is not “talk to those who have positions other than our own.” It is honoring, as is the giving of an honorary degree. Hence the term “honorary.”
    Meeting a political leader in political circumstances in not honoring. This is not such an occasion
    You also make it quite clear that you have no idea of the difference between a personal sin, which is bad enough for the individual and an intrinsically evil sin. Abortion is an intrinsically evil act. There are never any circumstances in which it is not wrong. No state of personal intention can make it anything but an evil act. Such cannot be said for the litany of other sins you mention.
    For the record there is no “stem cell debate.” Stem cells which are harvested from human pre-born babies kill that human baby in the process of their harvesting. Science tells us that at the moment of conception a new unique human person exists. Science, not faith. Faith tells us that human person is made in the image of God and has an immortal soul. The humanity of that baby is undisputed by any honest observer using science. The legal personhood of that baby is what is being contested.

  78. TerryC:

    At “National Catholic Reporter” (in my judgment, all three words are disputable), that’s Father Tom Reece’s take: why, President Obama never said he loved abortion!

    I remember reading America magazine in the seminary and thinking about Reece, and everything he wrote: “what a limp noodle!” Everything was hand-wringing, hemming and hawing.

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