Archbp. Chaput on Notre Dame and Pres. Obama

His Excellency Most Rev. Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, has made some observations about what happened at Notre Dame last Sunday, when a Catholic university honored abortion by honoring the most aggressively pro-abortion politician we may have ever seen in the USA.

Here is His Excellency’s text, on the website of the Archdiocese, with my emphases and comments.


May 18, 2009
Archbishop Chaput on Notre Dame and the issues that remain

"I have found that even among those who did not go to Notre Dame, even among those who do not share the Catholic faith, there is a special expectation, a special hope, for what Notre Dame can accomplish in the world."

~ Reverend John Jenkins, C.S.C., May 17, 2009

Most graduation speeches are a mix of piety and optimism designed to ease students smoothly into real life.  The best have humor.  Some genuinely inspire.  But only a rare few manage to be pious, optimistic, evasive, sad and damaging all at the same time.  Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president, is a man of substantial intellect and ability.  This makes his introductory comments to President Obama’s Notre Dame commencement speech on May 17 all the more embarrassing[Corruptio optimi pessima… the corruption of the best thing is the worst kind of corruption.  Indeed, His Excellency is right.  What he did is worse yet by the fact that he should and does know better.]

Let’s remember that the debate over President Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame was never about whether he is a good or bad man.  The president is clearly a sincere and able man.  By his own words, religion has had a major influence in his life.  We owe him the respect Scripture calls us to show all public officials.  We have a duty to pray for his wisdom and for the success of his service to the common good — insofar as it is guided by right moral reasoning. [NB: right moral reasoning.]

We also have the duty to oppose him when he’s wrong on foundational issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research and similar matters.  And we also have the duty to avoid prostituting our Catholic identity [YES {insert overhead fist pump HERE}. A very good word: prostitute.  Jenkins and Notre Dame sold it to Pres. Obama.  Note also something I have been hammering at myself and which is more and more becoming the key point of bishops and others across the USA: identity.  That is the key right: who we are as Catholics.  Without a clear Catholic identity we cannot contribute usefully in the public square and fulfill the mission Christ entrusts to the Church and to each of us in our own vocations.   We are in a battle over our Catholic identity.  Many forces are arrayed against clarity on this point, with the objective of keeping a Catholic voice out of the public square.] by appeals to phony dialogue that mask an abdication of our moral witness.  Notre Dame did not merely invite the president to speak at its commencement.  It also conferred an unnecessary and unearned honorary law degree on a man committed to upholding one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in our nation’s history: Roe v. Wade.  [The fact that it was a Law degree made it worse.]

In doing so, Notre Dame ignored the U.S. bishops’ guidance in their 2004 statement, Catholics in Political Life. [Which has its significance.  However, I am less interested in upholding the authority of a bishops conference than I am in the other reasons why ND uttery failed.]  It ignored the concerns of Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Notre Dame’s 2009 Laetare Medal honoree – who, unlike the president, certainly did deserve her award, but finally declined it in frustration with the university’s action.  It ignored appeals from the university’s local bishop, the president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, more than 70 other bishops, many thousands of Notre Dame alumni and hundreds of thousands of other American Catholics.  Even here in Colorado, I’ve heard from too many to count.  [I don’t think any other issue has generate this much e-mail in my inbox.]

There was no excuse – none, except intellectual vanity – for the university to persist in its course. And Father Jenkins compounded a bad original decision with evasive and disingenuous explanations to subsequently justify it.

These are hard words, but they’re deserved precisely because of Father Jenkins’ own remarks on May 17: Until now, American Catholics have indeed had “a special expectation, a special hope for what Notre Dame can accomplish in the world.”  For many faithful Catholics – and not just a “small but vocal group” described with such inexcusable disdain and ignorance in journals like Time magazine — that changed Sunday.  [The technique of the left is to dismiss opposition as kooky minority narrowness.]

The May 17 events do have some fitting irony, though. [This next part is good.  Both Fr. Jenkins and Pres. Obama appealed to the wonderful history of the institution.  Let’s expand that beyond their cherry-picking:…]  Almost exactly 25 years ago, Notre Dame provided the forum for Gov. Mario Cuomo to outline the “Catholic” case for “pro-choice” public service.  At the time, Cuomo’s speech was hailed in the media as a masterpiece of American Catholic legal and moral reasoning.  In retrospect, it’s clearly adroit.  It’s also, just as clearly, an illogical and intellectually shabby exercise in the manufacture of excuses[Cuomo’s speech, as did the diabolical tutelage of the late Fr. Drinan, did irreparable harm to the Church and Catholic identity in the USA.] Father Jenkins’ explanations, and President Obama’s honorary degree, are a fitting national bookend to a quarter century of softening Catholic witness in Catholic higher education.  Together, they’ve given the next generation of Catholic leadership all the excuses they need to baptize their personal conveniences and ignore what it really demands to be “Catholic” in the public square. [Perfect analysis.  You might want to jot that down.]

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George has suggested that Notre Dame “didn’t understand” what it means to be Catholic before these events began.  He’s correct, and Notre Dame is hardly alone in its institutional confusion.  That’s the heart of the matter.  Notre Dame’s leadership has done a real disservice to the Church, and now seeks to ride out the criticism by treating it as an expression of fringe anger. [See my comment about the left’s M.O., above.]  But the damage remains, and Notre Dame’s critics are right.  The most vital thing faithful Catholics can do now is to insist – by their words, actions and financial support – that institutions claiming to be “Catholic” actually live the faith with courage and consistency.  If that happens, Notre Dame’s failure may yet do some unintended good.


It’s is now time for a …


Let’s go back a revisit three points, first quoting Archbp. Chaput:

1) CHAPUT: “We also have the duty to oppose him when he’s wrong on foundational issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research and similar matters.  And we also have the duty to avoid prostituting our Catholic identity by appeals to phony dialogue that mask an abdication of our moral witness.”

Catholics have a duty to oppose Pres. Obama on abortion and other human life issues on which he is wrong. This is what Fr. Jenkins et al. don’t understand. Opposition is not an option. And the “dialogue” that Jenkins and Obama are calling for is, as Chaput says, “phony”.

Did both Pres. Obama and Fr. Jenkins really forget that just days after his inauguration Obama proudly announced the reversal of the “Mexico policy”?  To remind: this was the policy by which the U.S. was restricting UN spending on abortions in the developing world. 

Does anyone think that Pres. Obama’s choice for the U.S. Supreme Court will be anything but someone unconditionally committed to defending Roe v. Wade?  To whom does Obama’s call for dialogue really seem sincere, and not just a political ploy?

2) CHAPUT: “Father Jenkins’ explanations, and President Obama’s honorary degree, are a fitting national bookend to a quarter century of softening Catholic witness in Catholic higher education.  Together, they’ve given the next generation of Catholic leadership all the excuses they need to baptize their personal conveniences and ignore what it really demands to be ‘Catholic’ in the public square.”

Archbp. Chaput gets it right again. The next generation of Catholic leadership, graduates of Notre Shame (and a host of other formerly-Catholic universities) were on Sunday once again confirmed in their determination to “baptize their personal conveniences”.

Why not? 

If an honorary Doctor of Laws degree can be given by “the premier U.S. Catholic university” (as L’Osservatore Romano called it on Monday) to the U.S. President who, as an Illinois state senator, voted not once but twice against a bill designed to outlaw the abandonment in hospitals of babies who survived attempts to abort them, so that they die anyway, then… which moral teaching of the Catholic Church should catholic university graduates be expected to regard as really binding on them?

3) CHAPUT: “Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George has suggested that Notre Dame “didn’t understand” what it means to be Catholic before these events began.  He’s correct, and Notre Dame is hardly alone in its institutional confusion.  That’s the heart of the matter. Notre Dame’s leadership has done a real disservice to the Church, and now seeks to ride out the criticism by treating it as an expression of fringe anger.”

Archbp. Chaput is right that the Catholic left’s strategy now is to depict us as losers, as a bunch of fringe right-wingers driven by anger. The left’s reasonableness has trumped our narrow-minded political ideology.

Just wait: the left will now cite the recent article in L’Osservatore Romano – written by someone who was clearly duped – as evidence that their moderate, disciplined, reasonable call for dialogue and unity is in harmony with the Vatican’s own approach to the role of Catholic universities in society.

Walk away with this:

CHAPUT: Father Jenkins’ explanations, and President Obama’s honorary degree, are a fitting national bookend to a quarter century of softening Catholic witness in Catholic higher education.  Together, they’ve given the next generation of Catholic leadership all the excuses they need to baptize their personal conveniences and ignore what it really demands to be “Catholic” in the public square.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Michael says:

    Calling Fr. Jenkins a prostitute is perhaps giving him too much credit. What was his price for laying down for Obama? As far as I can determine he just wanted to be close to this rock star president. That makes Fr. Jenkins and, by extension, ND not prostitutes but groupies. Who are we to deny him the thrill that he has craved for so long of gazing breathlessly into Obama’s eyes? All those serious Catholics are just a bunch of prudes who don’t understand what life is really about in his view of things.

  2. The prostitute wasn’t alone. Notre-Shame had a taker in Obama.

  3. And then they aborted themselves. But we can pray for them.

  4. inillotempore says:

    they’ve given the next generation of Catholic leadership all the excuses they need to baptize their personal conveniences and ignore what it really demands to be “Catholic” in the public square.

    Baptism of convenience…has a nice ring for the heterodox, I suspect.

  5. chironomo says:

    And I’m sure that Obama will continue to be a willing John to many more such prostitutes. The price of inclusion in the Obama circle is nothing less than selling your soul. For some, that isn’t too high a price…but what about those with no soul to sell? Such soul-less folks end up working for him in return…

  6. Dear Father Z:

    With all respect, this problem is forty years old. All the universities/colleges which signed the Land O’ Lakes Agreement were not joking. They really did separate themselves from the Church. Proof? 74 Bishops could not make Jenkins disinvite Obama. May 17, 2009 points up the fact that the American hierarchy allowed this to fester for forty years without resolution. Ex Corde Ecclesiae was issued in 1990. It was never enforced. ND doesn’t say it is Catholic. American Catholics say it is Catholic because they want it to be. Football, the Gipper, etc.

  7. Mark Windsor says:

    I agree with everything Fr. Z has written on this subject, and with Archbishop Chaput. But my agreement is meaningless. To a certain extent, these fine words are meaningless. The Left/Heterodox will always win a war of words. They can convince themselves of anything. Until such time as the Church starts to take solid ACTION against dissent, then nothing will change. Point in fact: Pelosi met with the Pope but neglected to mention that they talked about abortion.

    Until such time as the Church takes solid action, nothing will change. The war of words will be just that – words. For all the fine statements from the Bishops, the Left/Heterodox will say that it wasn’t a majority of the bishops and the polls say that the majority of Catholics approved of Obama’s visit.

    Words are dialogue and play into their hands. The situation calls for action.

  8. Mike M says:

    This whole ordeal reminds me of Uncle Screwtape’s advice in The Screwtape Letters. The “modern man” doesn’t care about Truth, but that things are reasonable, sensible, moderate and tolerant.

  9. GFvonB says:

    Until the Bishops actually start disciplining (a good start would be stripping Notre Dame of any and all Catholic status and defrocking Fr. Jenkins), they are just irrelevant windbags.

  10. Eugene says:

    I think that these bishops should read John Stuart Mill’s ON LIBERTY. While one need not agree with everything in that book, it is still edifying reading when applied to the situation at Notre Dame. Academic freedom is the winner at Notre Dame.

  11. Flambeaux says:

    What kind of action do you have in mind, Mark Windsor?

  12. magdalene says:

    I am with Mark: action is needed. Granted over 80 bishops responded but are there not nearly 300? And the hand-wringing is not going to do much. Superiors who have a say need to act. Catholic colleges who are soft on Catholicism need to be declared secular schools.

    The president can appear to agree and call for ‘dioalog’ and ‘common ground’ to appease the duped, but it means nothing. His agenda proceeds and the Catholic church remains split.

  13. Jim of Bowie says:

    Michael, one can be a groupie and a prostitute.

  14. Frank H. says:

    William H. Phelan – Not sure why you say ND doesn’t call itself Catholic. This from its website… “an independent, national Catholic university located in Notre Dame, Ind., adjacent to the city of South Bend…”

  15. Lee says:

    Remarkably, I have seen no comment on the fact that after announcing that ND would confer an honorary doctor of Law degree on Obama, ND promoted a non-Catholic supporter of Obama (presumably then, pro-abortion) to be the new dean of their Law School. This also is a disaster for the university, Catholic education and the Church.

  16. Tzard says:

    I wonder what people think of the metaphor “bookend”. It does frame a situation, but doesn’t it also by definition “end” something?

    Sure, much will continue (perhaps another bookshelf of much of the same), but isn’t something new also coming to fore? I’ve never seen such a grassroots reaction in defending Catholic identity before.

  17. shadrach says:

    I think great good might be mysteriously arising out of the provocation caused by the Obamanation abomination. It’s great to see the Church militant mobilising… Brings the best war song to mind:

    Dixit Dominus Domino meo sede a dextris meis donec ponam inimicos tuos scabillum pedum tuorum
    Virgam virtutis tuae emittet Dominus ex Sion dominare in medio inimicorum tuorum
    Tecum principium in die virtutis tuae in splendoribus sanctorum ex utero ante luciferum genui te
    Iuravit Dominus et non paenitebit eum tu es sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech
    ***Dominus a dextris tuis confregit in die irae suae reges*****
    Iudicabit in nationibus implebit cadavera conquassabit capita in terra multorum
    De torrente in via bibet propterea exaltabit caput.

  18. Academic freedom that has no respect for true reason and love is as free as a prostitute.

    If you’ve never worked with prostitutes, you don’t know what a hellish slavery is their living death.

    Prostitutes can convert. Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for us in the U. S. of A. Pray for the conversion of Notre-Shame.

  19. Tomas says:

    There must be TWO Archbishop Chaputs: the one I corresponded with regarding Christopher West and his disgraceful presentations on the “Theology of the Body” offered absolutely nothing about correcting West, to whom he is an “advisor” on the TOB Institute, and didn’t even seem terribly concerned about his sexualized garbage.

    I wish THIS Archbishop Chaput would turn his attention to Christopher West.

  20. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    Frankly, who cares about this issue anymore?

    Rome doesn’t care . . . and, apparently never did, given that the Vatican’s flagship newspaper has now pulled the rug out from underneath everyone who DID care. (Thanks for that Papa Ratzinger!)

    Enter the “lib-con” Archbishop Chaput. (That’s my term for a bishop who believes and talks conservatively, but acts liberally.) [We have been over that before on this blog. That is a mischaracterization and a rabbit hole.]

    Prostitute? Pretty strong words from the man who has no qualms about — in fact, has joked about — giving in full knowledge the Body and Blood of Christ to non-Christians. (It wouldn’t be “pastoral” to turn them away.)

    Well, I guess, one man’s “pastoral” is another man’s “prostitute.”

    Also, strong words from a man who would probably do the same thing that Bishop D’Arcy will do (viz., nothing) had this travesty occurred at, say, the Jesuit Regis University in Denver . . . where (I’m sure) Bishop Chaput requires all of the theological faculty to have the mandatum, right?

  21. Charles says:

    I’m not sure I agree that this issue is about Catholic “identity”. It seems to me it is more about Catholic doctrine, and in particular moral doctrine, and it is only about Catholic identity in the sense that such identity includes being true to such moral teaching. Catholic identity, while important, sounds like an appeal to mere cultural Catholicism, i.e., like what the Kennedies represent. [I don’t think you quite got what I have been talking about when it comes to identity.]

  22. MargaretMN says:

    One phrase jumped out at me, intellectual vanity. Now we all know that Notre Dame is no different from any other secular institution of higher learning. Clarity can be a good thing.

  23. Tradster says:

    Blah…blah…blah. Wonderful words but where’s the beef?

    The bishops remind me of that old joke about the bobbies in England, who didn’t carry guns, yelling, “stop or I’ll pretend to shoot!”

  24. Chuck says:

    I am reminded of when Sarah Palin was interviewed during the election cycle and asked since she wanted to have Roe v Wade repealed could she cite another Supreme Court case, which was wrong and ultimately overturned. As she waffled on that question, I was yelling at the TV “Dredd Scott v. Sandford.” As with Dredd Scott I have hope that ultimately, Roe v Wade will be overturned but it will require the help of everyone who does not support abortion. Catholics need to be reminded of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Many supported Obama because of his support of many of the corporal works of mercy…but we need to remind ourselves and other Catholics of the spiritual works of mercy, three of which are: instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful and admonish the sinner. That’s not to say that we need to beat down doors and trumpet orthodoxy for orthodoxy’s sake without being charitable, but we need to be clear, consistant and reasoned.

  25. Mark McGrath says:

    In May of 2006, the commencemnt speech given by an honors graduate, academic all-american football athlete and future seminarian was booed at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. The main point of his speech was about selfishness and about true happiness, but he touched on birth control as well as other topics and it was reported that graduates walked out, cried, along with booing and heckling.

    This should be reason to cheer and congratulate, but the student then formally apologized.

    This is what a devout, faithful Catholic can look forward to when expressing his belief; at a Catholic University, no less.

  26. moon1234 says:

    Action is needed. With no action words are hollow. What would the US be if the founders had written the declaration of independence and then never backed it up? They would have all been executed by King George.

    So too will the same happen to many Catholics moral compass. They will look to their Bishops and see no action. They will look to Rome and see no action. What message does this send to Catholics?

    Obama at least seems to be backing up his words with actions (however terrible they are). What good are the Church’s doctrines if no one is willing to back them up with any action?

  27. TNCath says:

    Archbishop Chaput wrote: “Together, they’ve given the next generation of Catholic leadership all the excuses they need to baptize their personal conveniences and ignore what it really demands to be “Catholic” in the public square.”

    Indeed. And, if the bishops don’t start acting, they too will be partly to blame as well. I agree wholeheartedly with Archbishop Chaput’s response. But, the time for writing and analysis is over. It’s time for consequences.

  28. M.F. Bingham says:

    Well, Matthew, the link you provided sinks your own ship. Chaput doesn’t joyfully or freely give the Holy Eucharist to non-Christians. Read his whole response in context please. And Tomas, at the risk of blog-jacking, I would love to hear the issues you have with Christopher West and the Theology of the Body. Is it that it promotes our human sexuality as a good when exercised in Holy Matrimony?

    Archbishop Chaput is not perfect; none of the shepherds in the Church have ever been perfect (yet the Church herself remains undefiled). But Chaput is a holy, outspoken, strong defender of the Catholic faith in its entirety. If he errs at all in this letter, it is how completely and thoroughly he undresses Jenkins’ entire defense in one line- it’s almost uncharitable in its utter succinctness!

  29. jennifer eva says:

    I have this sneaky feeling that there is an underlying current that is very unsettled at the U of ND.

    On Fox’s Oreilly – which keeps calling ND decisively secular now with no real Catholic university identity, had a clip where I noticed a couple of the people standing around Obama looking very dismayed over all the bru ha ha. I wish I knew who they were. There was the obvious drooling person which made the faces and nonclapping men on the stage look very out of place and visibly they were uncomfortable. Hmmm, hope this isn’t the last of it.

    Praying the ones with a right conscience don’t abandon our Lady’s University.


  30. John Paul says:

    All this talk again about the bishops doing something. Like what? I don’t
    believe they have any real control over the private (usually religious order
    run) schools in their diocese. And many of these religious orders have
    yielded control to some board that they don’t fully control. Other than
    Catholic U. in D.C., it isn’t clear who any of these schools really answer to.

    So again, what should they do? And what if the school doesn’t yield to
    the bishop’s direction or request?

  31. Justin in Ohio says:

    I also share the opinions of the posters above who call for ACTION rather than simply harsh WORDS for ND and the formerly Catholic priest Fr. Jenkins.

    The Church militant is getting riled up and is ready for battle. We’re ready to defend the Church. But if all the Church hierarchy is willing to do is trade words with the opponents, the battle is largely lost. In my view, we cannot win a battle of words without action to back up those words. Fr. Jenkins and dissenting Catholics know they have the vast majority of the mainstream media in their corner. Therefore, even sound arguments and reasoning won’t win out for our side. Most Americans and even many Catholic-Americans who have been led astray, will never hear or see these impassioned defenses of the Church and her teachings.

    When will someone pointedly ask Bishop D’Arcy and Archbishop Chaput and Archbishop Burke and Cardinal George and the other leaders of American Catholicism: WHEN WILL YOU ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING TO BACK UP THE WORDS?!!!

    I fear we will never get anything more than words…

  32. Justin in Ohio says:

    John Paul,

    Publicly declare that Notre Dame is no longer a “Catholic university.” I’m sure they
    could do at least that much. Maybe it doesn’t have any “real” effect, but it would at
    least make it clear where they stand officially within Catholicism.

    I’m sure Notre Dame wouldn’t want to be officially declared a secular, non-Catholic university. After all, much of their popularity and history and mythology is based on their connection to Catholicism and Catholic-Americans. I think they lose quite a lot if they are officially no longer Catholic.

  33. anson says:

    Sadly, Matthew, I must agree with much of what you say. As for the Rome Newspaper, I will not comment. As for the rest of your post? I think it best that I remain silent. Good TLM priests here would appreciate it. As for the Regis comment, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to GOD’S, rather than His people on earth” That is what you hear at Regis Masses from the genderless jesuits.

  34. M.F. Bingham says:

    I guess I have a problem with stripping Notre Dame of a Catholic moniker. We’re treating Notre Dame like Sodom and Gomorrah. However, I think we can definitely find at least 10 people of good faith in South Bend. I mean, really, does anyone here really think Notre Dame is worse than Georgetown, BC and almost every Jesuit University, or Trinity University (see their President’s comments regarding the Obama furor)? I think that the Catholic identity of some of these schools needs to be examined, with the real threat of stripping that moniker. But most alumni and families who still send their kids to Notre Dame do so with the true intent of having the school help form their Catholic identity. You don’t find that at Georgetown.

    The issue with Notre Dame is with Jenkins and the current governance structure, which does not answer to anyone in the Church. The Jenkins administration sets the tone for a university and can influence the orthodoxy of faculty members that are hired. Replace him and the foundation for a proudly Catholic university remains. Stripping a Catholic label from Notre Dame, when worse outright mutiny from the Catholic Church is prevalent on other university campuses, is frankly a hyperventilitic overreaction.

  35. marcum says:

    It’s over. Notre Dame has made it’s bed.
    They have a football team – the Fighting Irish – good for them.
    But to allow anyone to couch them as a Catholic institution at this point
    is to reveal ignorance of what is Roman Catholic. ND was a period piece,
    had it’s charm, and now they are a secular institution with remnants of
    a Catholic heritage. Although not directly protestant, you could easily
    align the new ND identidy as protestant directly due to the brush-off given
    to the Bishops to raise it’s new flag of secular american catholic values.
    Touchdown Obama!

  36. Do you know the best part of being in a Traditional chapel? It obviates the need to get involved in most of these internecine disputes for the simple reason we are not internecine! Do you want activist bishops? Abp. Lefebvre and the four bishops who were excommunicated with him gladly took that responsibility on themselves as they believed that Catholicism would end with the death of Lefebvre. This was in 1988. Quite frankly, I think it is their witness which gives me any hope that the Church will ever be restored. After forty years I am told the Traditional Mass was never abrogated? Who is kidding whom? Of course it was! Seventy-four Bishops told Fr. Jenkins not to honor Obama. In forty years we will be told Obama was never at Notre Dame.

  37. Ricky Vines says:

    Does one’s Catholic identity or notion thereof beg the question? Jenkins and Wuerl can find
    justifications for their acts and make it consistent with their concept of Catholic identity.

  38. Paul Haley says:

    It is an undeniable fact that Barack Hussein Obama was elected President of the United States with the majority of the Catholic vote. If he hadn’t been elected, we would not have this controversy and Notre Dame could have selected a much more Catholic person or, at the very least, one who was pro-life for their commencement address. Those who call for action ought to remember that the next time they go to the ballot box. We sometimes get what we deserve is the only point I’m trying to make. As for Archbishop Chaput, I submit that he has been right on in his defense of Catholic moral principles and the moral law. Who else would have said it better than he?

  39. Tony from Oz says:

    “Archbp. Chaput gets it right again. The next generation of Catholic leadership, graduates of Notre Shame (and a host of other formerly-Catholic universities) were on Sunday once again confirmed in their determination to “baptize their personal conveniences”. ”

    Indeed! I have always referred to the process of conscience-burial as ‘canonising one’s own vices’. This ensures one is immune to that great sin of the modern world, ‘hypocrisy’; because then one can always opine” ‘well, I know I’m a philanderer, glutton (insert whatever vice here)…but at least I’m not a hypocrite!’

    It is easier to acquiesce in the sin and ‘move on’, than it is to uphold the truth. The truth must needs be denied in the vital cause of avoiding ‘hypocrisy.

  40. B Knotts says:

    I agree it is time for action: we should call on Bishop D’Arcy to declare Notre Dame non-Catholic.

    Are there schools which are equally as bad, or worse? Yes, but in this case, the university directly challenged the authority of the bishops, ignoring their clear instruction.

    They can always reform, and be recognized as Catholic down the road, should they choose to do so.

  41. Alan I. says:

    Obama seemed to appease everyone by appealing for a dialogue of discussion. On Abortion he stated matter of factly “all groups such as Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, Christian, Catholic, Jews, Muslims, Humanists, etc should stop demonizing each other and try to work out our mutual differences”. What kind of compromise can Pro-Life groups work out with abortionists? If you are 18 yrs or older then abortion is ok? What he is really saying is that he wants Catholics and Christians to compromise our morality. What bother me the most is in naming the groups he also included the “humanists”. Brief definition “the philosophy of the human condition without religion”. Without religion…..without God. That should tell you who is guiding Obama.

  42. Colleen says:

    I heartily agree with all those who have said that the bishops MUST act. Justin in Ohio suggested the bare minimum that would serve as a salve to the festering wound that Notre Shame has become: Publicly declare that the place is no longer a Catholic University. That is the least they could do to reaffirm the faith. And, yeah, I know there are faithful Catholics at the school. But there are faithful Catholics at EVERY college and university (OK, maybe not Bob Jones University and such like, but you get my point). Having a handful of devout Catholics at a school doesn’t make the school a Catholic school. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that since the majority of bishops didn’t even come out and condemn the N.S. outrage that even fewer than those who did that little bit would support taking action against the place. The message from the bishops (and Rome?): All that stuff about the sanctity of life, Catholic doctrine and all — those are just suggestions. We think it would be “nice” if you heeded them, but only if you really want to; if you choose not to, well, that’s OK, too. The failure of the bishops to act does nothing to edify the cafeteria Catholics/Catholic schools or bring them back into the fold, but IS a serious chastisement to those who try to abide by the Church’s teachings. Who was it who once said “Your actions are speaking so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying”? The bishops’ actions are speaking so loudly that no one hears what they’re saying.

  43. Phil Steinacker says:


    I looked to see if Father Z might delete or otherwise declare your remark as off subject, but since he did not I feel compelled to respond.

    I am very familiar with Christopher West’s work. I have read and continue to read works by a number of others on Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body as well, and it is only hard-core traditionalists who apparently fear openness about the subject who phrase their criticisms as you have. I once encountered an editorial at the Remnant attacking West on the admitted “strength” of 3rd party reports only. The editor had not personally encountered anything by West. He didn’t know what he was talking about, and it was embarrassing.

    I am normally in sympathy with many trad views on the TLM and many other elements of our true Catholic faith, and so I’d normally let this one go except I’ve recently encountered other such comments by folks who apparently are not truly familiar with West, either. Criticism is fine, but such nasty, biting criticism warrants knowing your stuff first, wouldn’t you agree? Your choice of words indicates that you are, in fact, not familiar in depth with Christopher West or you could not have honestly described his work as “disgraceful presentations.”

    I have participated once and also led his introductory workshop three times, and am presently taking his “Into the Heart” series with about 13 people who are all committed to chastity according to their individual station in life. This is a group “on fire” for what we have learned about John Paul’s teaching about God’s original plan for all of us. West has played a major role in transmitting that understanding to us, but he is not the only one from whom we have learned much. I’d elaborate, but I am here to defend West against unwarranted and dishonest calumny, not to promote various great TOB teachers out there.

    Far from discussing ANYTHING that is sexually graphic in content, my TOB group has been repeatedly thunderstruck at the spiraling nature of John Paul’s wisdom and insight. Yes, the core of JP’s teaching is not new, but he has filled in the blanks and connected many dots that – over the centuries that Western culture was not anywhere as sexualized as ours is today – were previously not necessary to withstand the work of Satan.

    I myself upgraded my commitment to chastity last year from one of merely bending my will to His on the matter to joyfully embracing God’s plan – and I sincerely mean the “joyful” part of it. If you had genuinely explored West’s TOB work there is no way you could post the comments you made.

    Instead of contacting Archbishop Chaput, who is “only” an advisor on the TOB Institute, perhaps you should try your luck complaining to Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia. After all, the good Cardinal has bestowed his Imprimatur on West’s book “Theology of the Body for Beginners.” Cardinal Rigali has also placed his Imprimatur on the workbooks used in conjunction with West’s original and advanced DVD series.

    Your characterization of West’s material as “sexualized garbage” is not simply inaccurate, but is irresponsible to the point of being an act of misrepresentation and defamation. As for West’s theologically sound lectures on TOB, you simply do not know what you’re talking about.


  44. David Kastel says:

    I agree with Charles. The logic that this all to do with “Catholic Identity” seems to be contradicted by the idea that the pro-life program is NOT specifically Catholic…that it is fundamental morality which can be ascertained by reason alone, not by God’s Revelation through the Church.

    Is it something specifically Catholic? (Then, the religious freedomites and ND are right – each person can act in accordance with his own conscience as per Dignitatis Humanae.)

    Is it NOT specifically Catholic? (Then, what does it have to do with Catholic identity? There are protestants and others who oppose abortion and such.)

    I think the Vatican and LOR realize this is primarily an American political issue and for that reason they are rightly silent about it.

    If the American bishops are truly concerned about the culture of death, they should have their priests admonish the faithful against contraception, rather then have them concerned with Obama, voting, and elections.

  45. Mum26 says:

    I believe it is important to get the abortion issue first out of the “Catholic” camp and then out of the “religious” camp.

    It is not a Catholic issue. It is a Human Rights and a Civil Rights issue. The comparison with slavery is right on, as is the comparison with the Holocaust as well as genocide.

    By what definition is owning a slave a right? By what definition is murdering a Jew a right, by what definition is murdering an unborn person a right?

    The Catholic Church stands for the dignity of all human life because it falls under natural law and is an undebatable, absolute TRUTH, the first inalienable right! No dialogue here. Period.

    Jenkins and ilk not only betrayed the Catholic Church but the entire human race, esp. those of said human race who are in most need of protection.

  46. Mum26 says:

    …. ah, and while I am at it…. The episcopate is currently a very sorry bunch.

    It is NOT praiseworthy nor impressive that 80 out of 300 bishops came out from behind their desks to denounce the Notre Shame scandal. It is deplorable. It is so profoundly sad as well as laughable.

    I mean, what is the Catholic Church? We can’t even stand up for those who are not able to stand up for themselves? Why? What is the reasoning behind this. Are they scared? Are we dealing with a bunch of cowards here? There was a time when people would gladly die for Christ, they got burnt, eaten up by lions, ridiculed, arrested, silenced…… and our bishops can’t even speak out?

    It is fantastic when Bishop Finn in Kansas says we are in a war, or Cardinal Stafford, or when Archbishop Burke speaks with clarity, strength as well as Divine Authority…., hearing Archbishop Chaputs words are encouraging and refreshing as are Bishop D’Arcy’s comments….. I am afraid, though that this is a drop in the ocean; it causes some ripples today and peters out tomorrow…..

  47. Fenton says:

    Well, it appears that Father Jenkins has some credibility issues with regard to his “pro-life” credentials. It’s reported that he sits on a pro-abortion, pro-contraceptive population control organization:

    While the investigative reporters are at it, I’d like to see what connections the ND Board of Regents have with Chicago politics & the Obama Mafia Family.

    Just asking….

  48. Mark VA says:

    I think a lot depends on the faithful Bishops now, in how they organize themselves, and in how they choose to speak as one. We, the laity, sorely need their leadership, and we need to hear their common voice. We need to know what their strategy is for dealing with this schism in our Church. We need their encouragement, inspiration, guidance and correction, to act in an intelligent and coordinated way towards well defined goals.

    Without the leadership of the faithful Bishops, we, the laity, will vent our frustrations, but then we’ll flounder and become ineffective. We are facing a determined and a sophisticated adversary within the Church, who knows how to deal with a poorly organized opposition. I think the faithful Bishops have a large body of the faithful laity that stands in complete SOLIDARITY with them – but we need your clear and sustained leadership!

  49. Gail F says:

    Was there ever a time or a country when the majority of bishops were great? At least in the last 1900 years? We’ve gotta work with what we’ve got, folks, and what we’ve got right now is getting better all the time. What’s needed is enough great ones with backbones to carry along the average ones and leave the bad ones behind. And I think we’re getting there.

  50. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    M. F. Bingham wrote:
    Well, Matthew, the link you provided sinks your own ship.

    Which is why I provided it, . . . of course.

    “Joyfully;” “freely”: Where did I say, or even imply, those? One of us does need to read more closely.

    Yes, Fr. Z, the phrase is not condign, but the reality is germane. [Not to this entry, it isn’t.] What, then, do we call these bishops (e.g., Chaput) who are theologically orthodox, yet put no prophetic force behind their otherwise conservative statements?

    “Heteropraxic,” perhaps?

    [We call them, “Your Excellencies”, and we call them “Successors of the Apostles” and we pray for them when they are falling down… or never rising in the first place.]

  51. Brian says:

    In May 2003, Georgetown Catholic students and faculty were angered when Cardinal Arinze delivered a pro-life, pro-family address at Georgetown University.

    Now Notre Dame gives a platform, honors, and standing ovations to a man who voted against a law protecting infant survivors of abortion, because he refused to call these babies legal persons.

    Starkly evil

  52. TerryC says:

    Almost every diocese gives scholarships to students which are attending Catholic schools. Many student literally could not attend these schools without this money. Likewise the Knights of Columbus gives the same kind of scholarships. By simply striking UND and other universities which refuse to meet the requirements of “Guidelines Concerning the Academic Mandatum in Catholic Universities” and other requirements for Catholic institutions from the list of schools for which students can receive scholarships the bishops can send a real message and have a genuine effect of these schools. They will also engender in parents the question of why these schools might not be considered Catholic. This might cause even students who were not trying to receive these scholarships to rethink their choice.

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