Archbp. Buechlein of Indianapolis to Fr. Jenkins

His Excellency Most Reverend Daniel Buechlein, Archbishop of Indianapolis, has written to Fr. Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Shame.

He is the Metropolitan of the province where the University is located.

The letter is on the archdiocesan website.

Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments.

Archbishop Buechlein responds to Notre Dame invitation to President Obama

(Editor’s note: Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein sent the following letter to Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, to express his disappointment and concern about the school’s invitation to President Barack Obama to speak at the university’s commencement on May 17.)

Dear Father Jenkins:

I join my voice to the [growing] chorus of thousands of faithful Catholics around the United States, and those of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in particular, who are appalled and embarrassed [stronger than many of the letters from bishops] by your recent invitation to President Obama to address the 2009 graduates of Notre Dame.

I was stunned and angered upon hearing the news of the invitation; in the end, I am among the thousands of good people who are profoundly saddened by it.

There isn’t a single reason that would justify [Which stresses the Catholic position that the right to life is the most fundamental right.] Catholic sponsorship of the president of our country, who is blatantly opposed to the Catholic Church’s doctrine on abortion and embryonic stem-cell research.

You dishonor the reputation of the University of Notre Dame and, in effect, abdicate your prestigious reputation among Catholic universities everywhere.

Like other people of good faith, I await some action that indicates your regret concerning a truly wrong decision.  [He calls for specific action expressing regret.]

Sincerely in Christ,

Most Rev. Daniel M. Buechlein, O.S.B.
Archbishop of Indianapolis

I wonder how that would work.

The University/Fr. Jenkins says in some way "We screwed up and regret now having renewed the ‘standing invitation’ which we have always given to Presidents."

Then what happens?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. LCB says:

    That makes 30 Bishops, by my count.

  2. Tominellay says:

    …thinking one of the *Catholic* Democrats should advise the president to excuse himself that day because of pressing duties or emergencies in another country…

  3. TNCath says:

    Hooray for Archbishop Buechlein! The wagons are circling. It’s time for Notre Dame to decide whether or not it wants to be a Catholic university.

  4. Rancher says:

    Unfortunately I think NDU has already had the catholic vs non-catholic decision made for it. Unless initiated by BO on some pretense the chances of his commencement visit being cancelled are near zero. Too much ego on Jenkins part to yield to the Bps, alumni or anyone else.

  5. EDG says:

    The thing that stuns me is the utter arrogance of Fr Jenkins in ignoring the words of the bishops.

    The action I’d like to see would be disinviting Obama altogether, but if they can’t do that, couldn’t they at least announce that they are not conferring the honorary degree? It’s the latter thing that really puts it over the top, because the academic honor definitely implies the approval and agreement of ND and there’s absolutely no other way of presenting it. Was an honorary degree part of their “standing invitation” in the past?

  6. magdalene says:

    Wow, the admonitions just keep getting stronger and stronger. This bishop nails it. Are we nt all tired, over tired, of blatant disobedience in the public sector that casts scandal on the faith.

    Does Fr. Jenkins have ears to hear? Or is he like Pilate?

  7. therese b says:

    I think poor Fr Jenkins is between a rock and a hard place now. I suspect Tominellay’s solution will come into play. It is very interesting to see the wagons circling. Would this have happened five years ago in a similar situation? (That was not a rhetorical question).

  8. Jerry says:

    It would be fascinating to know what’s going on behind the scenes with Alumnae, major donors and the Fellows and Board of Trustees.

  9. Allan says:

    Exactly. We don’t know how many letters of support he’s getting, or from whom. It would be wrong to assume with data that all the pressure is on our side.

  10. Allan says:

    “without” data, sorry! Entry field does not display all the way on my PC….

  11. Jo Ellen says:

    Fr. Jenkins and the Board have too much at stake with federal monies flowing into ND. Check out:

    Comments and actions from the Catholic Church just don’t carry much weight anymore! Right, Fr. Hesburgh?


  12. TNCath says:

    Jo Ellen wrote: “Fr. Jenkins and the Board have too much at stake with federal monies flowing into ND.”

    I believe Bishop D’Arcy referred to this as having “chosen prestige over truth.”

  13. Rachel says:

    Where is my bishop???? He didn’t speak out against what Nancy Pelosi said during the election and he is also very silent here.

  14. Rich says:

    I still say they should take away the honorary degree as the best course of action. That’s the part of this thing that really grinds my gears, the fact that they not only invited Obama, but are heaping honors on him as well.

    you took down my comment in 3 minutes because it didn’t echo your opinion——-we all know what that signifies.

    Forgive me, but I don’t know what that signifies… other than the likelihood that your comment was garbage…

  15. Luke says:

    Why not withdraw this particular standing invitation? This is reason enough to withdraw all future invitations to presidents. They could send a letter stating that a campus-wide fire drill has been scheduled for that date. Besides: why should any Catholic in good standing be concerned about insulting somebody who shamelessly admits that he has little objective concern for human life? I’m fairly certain that Mother Teresa wouldn’t balk at such an opportunity. If saints would act in this manner, then wouldn’t this be a model for all Christians to follow in these circumstances? If God is for us, who can be against us. . .only those whom we shake hands with ourselves. At least in my own opinion.

  16. Ann says:

    I am so in favor of the bishops being strong on this. It is a scandal and I’m getting tired of the scandals.

    It may be that scandals are simply part of life, but there is no reason why anyone should have to be smiling and happy about them.

    I have struggled and worked to be orthodox and live properly. It doesn’t come easily for anyone. And it is just discouraging on a human level to see these public institutions spitting on the Faith, and these politicians spitting on the Faith, and then they get to be respected as “good catholics” and it just gets to me. I am human, and not yet a Saint, and hard as I work at it, I cannot see why the Bishops and Pope are not more vocal and do not take a more public line.

    IF I choose to do something I know it contrary to the Faith, I expect to have to repent and really mean it, and change my ways to be admitted to communion.

    Again, this may not be church teaching accurate, after all, we are obligated to obey the teachings of the faith no matter what anyone else does–but being human and not feeling very charitable at the moment–why don’t the Bishops get up there, call press conferences, and make a public announcement of excommunication on these politicians and leaders of supposedly Catholic universities?

    It is not fair to the rest of us, who struggle to live right, and keep on working on our faults and vices to become better and maybe develop some virtuous habits as we go along, to coddle the people who make us, in our weak moments, want to kick the whole effort.

    If the Bishops care about the masses, then they need to be harder on the public dissidents who make it easy for some to choose to cooperate with sins like abortion, and in doing so they will encourage weak people like me who want to be a saint someday but who are really an awful long way from it and struggling, and wondering.

    How weak are the Bishops that the most they can do about this situation is to write a few gently worded letters? Get real, I’ve been reading the early church Fathers and they were a LOT stronger in their words and make our modern Bishops look soft.

  17. John Polhamus says:

    As far as I can see, in the modern amoral America, a standing invitation to Presidents, or any politician, and even some bishops, is no longer a possibility. I say withdraw the invitation. NOW.

  18. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Ann, You mentioned the early church fathers. I’d go back a little bit more, and have our bishops act like the old testament prophets. Or plead for punishment as David did in the psalms…

  19. Lee Gilbert says:

    “The University/Fr. Jenkins says in some way \”We screwed up and regret now having renewed the ‘standing invitation’ which we have always given to Presidents.”

    “Then what happens?”

    One scenario:

    1. Our Lady smiles

    2. The ardent Catholics who prayed and worked for this decision are greatly heartened and encouraged to also pray and work 1) for the reversal of another crucial decision recently made by Fr Jenkins, the appointment of an Obama supporter as dean of the Law School; 2) for a more Catholic tenor in the faculty and teaching of the university, and of all \”Catholic\” universities.

    3. Catholicism re-emerges as a dominant cultural force to be reckoned with. The Church in this country is re-vivified, her bishops and archbishops greatly emboldened.

    4. A great enemy of Holy Church having been humbled, which we pray for in the Litany of the Saints, he lashes out with increasingly obvious impotence against all the interests of God, life, chastity, conscience.

    5. The wrath of the state is visited more intensely upon the Church, and the battle lines become much, much clearer, to our advantage, for it would result in much greater moral and religious clarity…and conversions.

    In the end, her Immaculate Heart triumphs over all the hardened hearts of our civilization. In other words, Notre Dame reigns supreme over the intellectual, moral and religious life of this country.

    But all of this hardly depends on the will of Fr. Jenkins. Our Lady- Patroness of the University- is perfectly capable of intervening spectacularly. It depends on her will, and perhaps somewhat on ours, whether or not we are willing to pray to the end that she intervene in this affair…

  20. Another Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Well “Massachusetts Catholic” I’d have to say I’m inclined to agree with your “Smite them, O’ Might Smiter!” course of action… But let’s not stop there “*Massachusetts* Catholic”… There are some bishops who are doing similar damage with different and often many many more issues. (Also *Los Angeles* Catholic)

    Is it alright to beseech God for the swift death of those who harm the Church, even her priests and bishops and cardinals?

  21. White Knight says:

    I LOVE our archbishop!!!

  22. opey124 says:

    Clinton was disinvited once, but not for an honorary degree. But it can and should happen. (following taken from Q&A on EWTN)

    In the biography entitled FULL OF GRACE, An Oral Biography of John Cardinal O’Connor, by Terry Golway, at Page 64, as related by Jennifer Lynch:

    “I worked on the Al Smith (Fundraising) dinner, which was run out of the Archdiocese Development Office. I remember the 1996 dinner, when President Clinton and (his then opponent) Bob Dole were disinvited. They both had accepted, but then Clinton vetoed the ban on partial birth abortions that had passed Congress. The Cardinal was very outspoken that he would not have Clinton at the dinner. He wouldn’t shy away from that. He said he wouldn’t want the President to come and to be uncomfortable at the dinner, which he would have been.

    So we went through a number of options. The Al Smith dinner was a big deal in a Presidential election year. The candidates always came. Some of the laypeople in the office felt it was important to have both candidates come. They asked, ‘How can you disinvite a President?’ The Cardinal was adament that we couldn’t have President Clinton so we couldn’t have Senator Dole because that would be like an endorsement. And that’s the way it went.”

  23. Jill of the Amazing Wolverine Tribe says:

    What happens? How about people gather in front of his office with pitchforks and lit torches and throw him out after tarring and feathering, and then he does the decent thing and either takes a page out of the book from Japanese warriors who are ashamed, or at the very least crawls on his bare knees across rocks, whilst beating his chest screaming, “have mercy on me and forgive my arrogance, for I am a fool?” [What?!? No gravel? What’s a good public penance without rubbing a little gravel through your hair? Sheesh! Modernists! Seriously, there must be some consequences for what has happened. What they should be will be worked out by those who are the superiors of those responsible. And we can leave them to it without the knuckle-head stuff.]

  24. michigancatholic says:

    Fr. Jenkins fully deserves to be between a rock and a hard place. All of this was totally avoidable, but NOOO. Notre Dame and Fr. Jenkins had to go whoring after the fame of the moment.

    If he doesn’t dis-invite Obama, and Catholics point and shake their heads, then he deserves it and so does Notre Dame. If this is the truth about Notre Dame, then so be it. At least we know where we stand with this place. There are better Catholic colleges in this country and it’s time ND stopped masquerading then.

  25. Jerry says:

    I fear we are only beginning the Obama vs. the Church battles. Notre Dame & Conscience Rights Protection are only in the beginning of the game.

    Prepare for war over Supreme Court and Appeals Court nominees, FOCA, attacks on the Church using the IRS Code all facilitated by the mainstream Obama propagandist media as well as Biden, Pelosi and their ilk. Just this past week, 16 alleged Catholic Senators voted against conscience protection.

    The Church needs to be true to itself. I suspect Obama hasn’t a clue should he decide to confront or try to charm Pope Benedict XVI.

  26. michigancatholic says:

    The New Dark Ages have been in the works for quite a while, but this is a definite ramp-up. I always knew we’d get to this juncture because there wasn’t anything else that could logically happen in the “new” global world, but I didn’t think it would happen so quickly.

  27. ED says:

    Apparently Father jenkins has enormous power in the church, he can defy now more than 30 bishops, it didn’t take that many to remove that “bishop” in Austria.

  28. A Random Friar says:

    Quoting Fox News: “Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, said in a statement last month that the invitation does not mean the university supports all of Obama’s positions but that he will be honored as an ‘inspiring leader.'”

    That’s a little more than “we invite all standing POTUS”

  29. Denise says:

    I am very happy to hear the voice of my Archbishop raised so strongly! Would that every Bishop in the US would speak out against this.

  30. Richard says:

    Massachusetts Catholic said:
    “Ann, You mentioned the early church fathers. I’d go back a little bit more, and have our bishops act like the old testament prophets.”

    Elijah & the prophets of Baal come to mind!

  31. Eric says:

    To make things more distressing, I just read that Obama, in an address to an audience in Turkey this week, said “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.” See I’m no longer sure of what country Obama is leading, or for that matter, what one I live in… I can’t imagine how our nation elected this man.

  32. magdalene says:

    It is Obama himself who no longer thinks America is a Christian nation and he is going to do his best to prove it as well—looks like he will have some success with that too as the attacks on morality and religion are swelling and coming from so many sides at once.

  33. Jerry says:

    Obama proclaimed yesterday, “We are not a Christian nation nor a Jewish or Muslim nation” (paraphrase).

    What! ?

    We are a Judaeo Christan tradition nation. Obama does not GRASP this country’s religious foundation.

    His alleged “Trinity United Church of Christ/Rev, Wright” experience is a lie and a fraud. He is no more a Christian believer, than I am a Knights Templar.

    Barack Obama by action and word is the most dangerous of Secular Humanists.

  34. gene firn says:

    what about the rest of the bishops? what about the council of bishops?
    I am sick and tired of the lack of leadership. Praise God for those who have spoken out, but forget those who can’t or won’t or want to appease.

  35. taximom says:

    Father Z,
    I just read this. Excellent and powerful.

    Talk at the Palm Sunday Prayer Rally, April 5, 2009
    Alfred J. Freddoso
    Professor of Philosophy and Oesterle Professor of Thomistic Studies
    University of Notre Dame

    I stand here today as a representative of that small group of faculty that supports NDResponse and stands behind the exemplary students who have organized it in reaction to the university administration’s announcement that it will honor P resident Obama at the graduation ceremony in May. Their faithful witness is an inspiration and a shining example even if it is not clear what good, if any, will come of it. For as the Holy Week liturgies reminds us, Christian witness is not about power or tangible result s. It’s about the life-giving truth of the Gospel and about the Father who passionately loves each individual human being.
    I also stand here as the parent of four Notre Dame graduates, including a 2009 graduate, a parent who cannot in good conscience—or, in my particular case, without giving scandal—attend my own son’s graduation ceremony.
    Make no mistake. This protest has to do with President Obama’s actions and with his intentions regarding future actions, and not merely with his beliefs.
    Now, of course, the administrators of the university do not “condone or endorse his positions”—or, presumably, his actions—“on specific issues regarding the protection of human life.” And, to be sure, it is permissible to honor someone despite20the bad things he’s done, as long as those bad things are “not all THAT bad.” So let’s look at a few of the actions that the administrators of the university consider to be “not all THAT bad.”
    President Obama has overturned the Mexico City Policy that had prohibited taxpayer money from going to groups that promote or perform abortions in other nations. “This is bad,” the administrators of the university admit, “but it’s not all THAT bad.”
    President Obama has, in Michael Gerson’s words, “signaled that he will overturn [the previous president’s] executive order protecting health workers from firing and discrimination if they refuse to perform actions they consider morally objectionable.” “This is bad,” the administrators of the university admit, “but it’s not all THAT bad.”
    President Obama has lifted the previous president’s already weak-kneed restrictions on the use of taxpayer money for embryo-destructive stem cell research—which research, by the way, unlike=2 0non-destructive stem cell research, has yet to result in curing anyone of any disease. “This is bad,” the administrators of the university admit, “but it’s not all THAT bad.”
    President Obama has nominated an enthusiastically pro-abortion Catholic to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, the department that oversees the medical profession along with other human services. “This is bad,” the administrators of the university admit, “but it’s not all THAT bad.”
    The list goes on, and the point is absolutely clear. When it comes to issues that bear upon the protection of innocent human live at its earliest stages, issues which, as one administrator put it, “we care so much about,” there just is no bad action on the part of President Obama that was going to count as “all THAT bad.” No wonder Cardinal George was driven to say, “Whatever else is clear, it is clear that Notre Dame didn’t understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation.”
    And, in fairness=2 0to President Obama, it is not as if he had not made it perfectly clear before the election what he intended to do. So no one can pretend that the administrators of Our Lady’s university, who undoubtedly issued their invitation to the President long before Inauguration Day, were ignorant of his intentions. (In fact, I hear that there was a pre-election New York Times bestseller, written by a Notre Dame graduate, that spelled out those intentions in great detail and with impeccable documentation.) Yes, the administrators knew all this full well, and they nonetheless chose “prestige over truth,” to use Bishop D’Arcy’s apt words. In fact, choosing prestige over truth seems to have become something of a way of life around here.
    And despite their protestations to the contrary, the administrators of the university have made themselves complicit in the culture of comfort and convenience over against the culture of sacrifice and self-giving; they have made themselves complicit in the culture of fearfulness and quiet despair over against the culture of gratitude to and hope in the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ; they have made themselves complicit in the culture of individual autonomy and individual self-creation over against the culture of faithful and enduring commitment and of shared dependency within a rich communal life—and, sad to say, they have done it under the mantle of the Catholic Faith which they profess with their lips. This would be sobering even if we didn’t find ourselves at the beginning of Holy Week.
    Today we have prayed to Our Lady and her Son in atonement for this betrayal, as well as in atonement for our own individual failures to bring the life-giving and liberating message of the Gospel to those around us. Mary is the patroness not only of this university, but also of the Congregation of Holy Cross, under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows. Think of the Fourth and Thirteenth Stations of the Cross. Think of Mary standing under the cross, joining her unspeakable suffering to the suffering of her Son. Think of the hardships—the crosses, if you will—joyfully embraced by that hardy group of immigrants, Father Sorin and his companions, in order to found this school.
    May these examples inspire us all to re-dedicate ourselves to the proposition that Catholic universities have the most to offer our culture when they are not afraid to be distinctive, when they do not accept the facile assumption that intellectual excellence and fidelity to Christ need to be balanced off against one another, when they do not value worldly20glory and prestige more than the truth that sets us free.
    Mary, Mother of Sorrows, pray for us.

  36. Central Valley says:

    Another statement from another bishop. Has anyone heard a word from the California bishops?

  37. nj says:

    Hurray for D’Arcy, the other bishops and cardinals, the courageous ND students and (some faculty) who stood up. But, like several others, where’s my Bishop (DiLorenzo in Richmond). We seem to have far too many anonymous bishop-bureaucrats who believe American universities are terra incognita. If you’re not going to be a public presence and teacher of the Faith, why bother? ND has been a standing embarrassment on the life issue since they let Cuomo wow the faculty, student and administrative hyenas in attendance with his Catholic quietism sophistry.

  38. Fenton says:

    Okay, I’ve got it!

    Since Obama bows to royalty, in order for this charade to continue, he must bow before the Blessed Sacrament, confess he’s wrong on life issues, and give his teleprompter reading in Latin.

  39. Bruce Barker says:

    Historians recently discovered a letter in the archives of the diocese of Grimwald in the Rhineland. It was dated 4 April 1935 and said,

    Dear Chancellor,

    It is indeed a high Honor to recognize you with an honorary Doctor of Letters at the coming commencement of the Catholic University of Grimwald. Your recognized skills in oratory and persuasion, which won you the last election and your currrent high office, merit the recognition you will receive. I have no doubt that your policy convictions are grounded in the same rigorous logic which appealed to your countrymen, giving us hope that we will be delivered from the negative forces which oppress our citzenry.

    I would, however, like to take advantage of the occasion of your receiving an honorary degree from Grimwald, to ask you to rethink, through prayerful wrestling with your own conscience, your stated positions on the vital “life issues” of our day, particularly in regard to eugenics and racial purity. Perhaps such an impertinent request rings with insolence. I mean you neither rudeness nor disrespect, you are MY Chancellor, after all, but I ask you this directly because as a Catholic, in this critical area, I hold and promote contrary views to your own as to what is right and just for the common good of the Reich.

    With fond best wishes and the expectation of a fruitful dialogue,

    I remain very respectfully yours,

    Rev. Jude I. Jurgens, DW, President
    Catholic University of Grimwald

  40. Memphis Aggie says:

    In charity to silent Bishops (like my own), do those men who have no direct jurisdiction need to speak out? Especially since the local ordinary, metropolitan and the president of the US conference have spoken. I take silence as tacit agreement and perhaps humility.

  41. TJM says:

    Good detective work, Bruce Barker. Did Rev. Jurgens end up in Buchenwald? Tom

    ps: Kudos for Professor Freddoso. It will be interesting to see how the University responds to him.

  42. Bruce Barker says:

    TJM – It was a parody. :-)

  43. TJM says:

    Bruce Barker, you had me going there. I figured there could have been Father Jenkins types back then too! Happy Easter. Tom

  44. Bruce Barker says:

    Tom, I’m sure you’re right. Thankfully, there were also academics like Dietrich von Hildebrand willing to abandon everything for the sake of the truth. May we have more of the latter and fewer of the “Jurgens” types.

    A blessed Easter to you and to all.

  45. Lee Gilbert says:

    Toward the end of his statement calling Obama’s invitation to Notre Dame an “extreme embarrassment” to the Church, Cardinal George said “You have to sit back and get past the immediate moral outrage and say, ‘Now what’s the best thing to do in these circumstances?'”

    BINGO! Is it not crystal clear from Professor Freddoso’s remarks above (in taximom’s post) exactly what we should do, and exactly what strategy will bring victory in this situation?

    “Mary is the patroness not only of this university, but also of the Congregation of Holy Cross, under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows.”

    Days ago I was rummaging around in my papers trying to find again that novena book to the Queen of Martyrs that I had found among my father’s papers so many years ago, a novena which brought me so much good. This, I thought, is the answer to our Notre Dame dilemma.

    As Archbishop of Chicago, the Cardinal must be aware of the story of Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica on West Jackson, the scene of a non-stop novena to her both during the Depression and World War II. My dad told me that as soon as one crowd exited that enormous basilica after saying the novena, another crowd would enter. And surely this was because people were receiving answers to their prayers.

    We need to do similarly for the salvation of our universities and also for the victory of life, for the Queen of Sorrows is also Our Lady of Victory.

    Although I disagree with Randall Terry’s strategy of turning the commencement into a circus, he is absolutely right that May 17th is a unique opportunity in the struggle with the culture of death. Our president, who has made himself practically the personification of abortion and the culture of death, is about to engage Our Lady on her own turf. Personally, I pray for- and expect- fireworks far beyond what Randall Terry can provide.

    Since I cannot find that booklet, I am going to send for another from the basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows ( and pray the novena till that fateful day in May.

  46. Joe says:

    I think this may be a turning point in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States.

    I wish there were more bishops speaking out on this. Given that the commencement is about a month and a half away, more will probably do so.

    Notice that Archbishop Wuerl of Washington and Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh have been silent. Dan Rooney, daily communicant and Pittsburgh Steelers majority owner, was a vocal supporter of Obama in the campaign and has been awarded with an appointment to be the US Ambassador to Ireland.

    Mr. Rooney’s actions in support of Obama are a disgrace. Yet, Rooney holds such clout here that nobody in a position of power will stand up to him.

  47. TJM says:

    Dan Rooney, another fake Catholic. Obama likes that type. Tom

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