Talking points for the Notre Dame scandal

UPDATE: Slightly revised and corrected.

During a lunch break I saw a segment on a cable news network about the Notre Dame dust up.

There was a representative of Catholic Democrats, a liberal group, soft on abortion, which seeks to politicize the controversy at Notre Dame.

The group Catholic Democrats, and adherents to Catholic-lite and the corrosive Kmiec Compromise, will use similar talking points.

On the other side of the issue (the correct side) I am hearing the talking heads use more and more consistent language, some of which has slowly but surely been crafted here.  Wonks are reading.  The blogosphere is useful for shaping the conversation!

Get familiar with the talking points and be ready to respond when you have conversations about this.

1. Pres. Obama’s approach to abortion is more in keeping with the Catholic Church’s teachings because what he proposes to do will decrease the number abortions.

The problem with this position is that, while people of good will can disagree about how to better the social and economic circumstances of poorer people who might chose abortion as a solution to a problem (and there is really no way to quantify that), Catholics may not disagree about the intrinsic evil of abortion.  We cannot simply gloss over or turn a blind eye to an evil because something good might be done in another sphere.

2. Since the Catholic Church has effectively lost on the abortion issue, we have to compromise and cooperate on a range of other social justice issues to improve the lot of those who, because of economic disadvantage, might choose abortion.

Catholics have no problem cooperating with anyone in improving people’s lives.  However, it is not permissible to cooperate in an intrinsically evil act.  If those who are soft on abortion are saying that we must press to help people participate more fully in society through an improved socio-economic standard of living, we must respond that no one participates in anything if he is dead.  Abortion is wrong.  People must have a right to live before they have a right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We cannot condone or look aside from abortion for the sake of other important, and yet logically secondary issues.

3. Opponents of Notre Dame’s decision don’t want to permit dialogue.  They don’t want to "engage" the President or permit his view to be heard.

That is a distortion of the issue.  Catholics object not because the President was invited to speak (something which is not without its own difficulties) but rather because Notre Dame desired to bestow an honor on President Obama.  You honor those whom you believe to have laudable views, positions, past actions, etc.  Pres. Obama has been one of the most aggressive proponents of abortion on the American stage.  It is unthinkable that a Catholic institution would honor such a person for his positions and actions. 

Leaving aside whatever may be the President’s personal political agenda for this event, opponents of the decision to bestow an honor on this aggressive pro-abortion public figure are angry that a Catholic University has chosen in such a blatant way to abandon its Catholic identity and instead pander to secular power.

4. Opponents of Notre Dame’s decision are really just siding with the Republican party against a Democrat President.

False.  This has nothing to do with party politics.  The core of the objection raised to Notre Dame is not so much about the President himself, but about the choice of a Catholic University to bestow an honor on this President.  The problem rests in Notre Dame’s betrayal of their Catholic identity.  This is not a matter of partisan politics no matter what groups such as Catholic Democrats claim.

Furthermore, the supporters of Notre Dame’s decision are the sole political partisans in this debate.  They are in lockstep with the Democratic Party. They are the ones who distribute talking points to their adherents precisely recommending to politicize the issue!  As a democrat party operative wrote in a letter, with talking points:

It is good to frame the debate that this ND "scandal" is about supporting the Republican platform’s view of life issues.

Again, opponents of Notre Dame’s decision are not in this case objecting because of political party affiliations.   The true problem is Notre Dame’s betrayal of Catholic identity.

5. Polling suggests that a majority of Catholics are not in favor of Notre Dame’s rescinding the invitation.  Most ND students don’t object to the President speaking at Notre Dame’s commencement.  A majority of Catholics voted for President Obama in the election.  Therefore, only a hard-core minority of bishops and Catholics object and most Catholics don’t even know about this issue.

The truth is not determined by polling.  When a majority of the world thought that the world was flat, that majority opinion did not make the world flat.   When a majority of Germans in the 1920’s and 30’s brought the National Socialist Party to power, they were not therefore doing a good thing.

That a majority of Catholics are either unaware or unconcerned about what Notre Dame did is tragic, but that majority in no way changes the Church’s teachings or the fact that Notre Dame has abandoned Catholic identity.

Adherents of Catholic-lite and the corrosive Kmiec Compromise are in the final analysis deeply impressed by polling.  Because they do not give the Magisterium of the Church its due and, by their own personal authority, they determine which teachings they will adhere to on this day or that, they therefore seek to justify their choices by pointing to crowds of people around them who choose the same errors.

6. Pope Benedict has met with world leaders.

That is what Popes do.  That is what Catholics do.  We will meet and engage in dialogue.  But when, for example, Paul VI met with Idi Amin Dada or John Paul II met with Fidel Casto or Yassir Arafat, those Popes did not them bestow a formal honor on them.

7. Pro-abortion French President Nicholas Sarkozy was made an honorary canon of the Pope’s own Cathedral, the Lateran Basilica.  If that can happen in Rome, then no one can object if Notre Dame gives an honor to the President.

On the surface, this point seems compelling.  But the analogy isn’t good enough to support the position that Pres. Obama should therefore be honored at Notre Dame.  The President of France has, ex officio, the right to be a canon of the Lateran, no matter what his stance on abortion may be.  He takes that place as a matter of course.  The Holy Father could, of course, rescind that, but there would be diplomatic repercussions between states: this has been the right for the French head of state since the time of King Henry IV (+1610).  Henry in 1604 gave to the Lateran chapter the ownership of the Benedictine Abbey of Clariac.  The Pope therefore made the French head of state ex officio an honorary canon of the Lateran.  Thus, this "honor" comes automatically.  It does not come after a decision of the Pope or the Lateran chapter.  Though I remember reading that Notre Dame has a standing invitation to Presidents to speak at their commencement, Pres. Obama does not have an ex officio right to do so. Nor does the President have the right to be recognized with an honorary doctorate of law.  Notre Dame made a decision to give an honor to Pres. Obama. 

Moreover, even though Pres. Sarkozy is known to be pro-abortion, I doubt very much that he would have twice voted in a provincial assembly against a law that would require life-saving measures to be applied to a baby who had survived  attempts to abort it.  There is the issue of Pres. Obama’s extreme position

There is also the policy of the USCCB for Catholic institutions. The USCCB said that Catholic institutions should not give these platforms to such politicians.  Notre Dame ignored, even defied, the USCCB.  The USCCB is less important that some would hope to make it.  What is far more important is the still unimplemented Ex corde Ecclesiae.

Those are a few of the talking points off the top of my head.

Get familiar with the talking points and be ready to respond when you have conversations about this.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Tertulian el Mexicano says:

    Muchisimas gracias, Padre Zeta.

  2. KBW says:

    Substitute “slavery” for “abortion” and you see talking points that were readily used in antebellum America. Reducing slavery, or containing slavery, were ridiculous and unethical arguments then and they’re just as deplorable now. Would any pro-abortion Catholic care to recite those talking points if slavery were the topic? The denial of human rights occuring in America are no less serious (and nationally disastrous) now than they were then.

  3. Ben Trovato says:

    The slavery analogy is a good one. And I look forward to the day when people will look back on these days in bewilderment: “how could anyone back then,’ (they will say) ‘think Obama should have been honoured by a Catholic University?’

    Those of us who think like that already are ahead of our times…

  4. Tzard says:

    I have been wondering whether the prevailing wisdom that poverty causes abortions is an assumption we should not challenge. It’s the basis of the talking point that he’s going to do more to reduce abortions by providing more welfare.

    Sure, Planned Parenthood is predominantly in poor neighborhoods, but I’m sure that’s for eugenic and racist reasons rather than supposed demand.

    I wonder if the spike in objection to abortion is due to the down economy. People are less inclined to put their trust in money and getting ahead than in family and faith. Most abortions are done for convenience.

    It used to be (as far back as 100 years ago) that the ones demanding “free love”, abortion and contraception most were the very rich (see who funds supposed philanthropic organizations) or the even moderately rich (which most of the US is). Those who are very, very poor have only their families and are too busy toiling to put their faith in intellectual theories. Their earthly treasures are their children.

  5. IvoDeNorthfield says:

    On Sarkozy:

    Has he actually ever voted on any abortion-related legislation? French abortion law is considerably more restrictive than ours, and I don’t think that there has been much change since the 70’s.

  6. Patrick says:

    Thank you Father!

    This is extremely helpful. We need more things like this

  7. jersuza says:

    Appearing on Fox News:

    “Certainly NARAL or Planned Parenthood, would never invite Benedict XVI, much less extend an award to him.”

    Bishop Samuel Aquila, Fargo, ND

  8. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    The slavery analogy is actually really bad. Slavery was tolerated by the Church, to the point that Catholic Bishops owned slaves. Jefferson Davis was given a crown of thorns by Pius IX after he had been captured. So the argument would go like this:

    The Church has a history of tolerating evil, until it can be done away with, while attempting to limit the extent of the evil. This is the position of the Catholic supporters of Obama.

    The pope himself honored Jefferson Davis after he was defeated, and seemed to want the South to gain their freedom, even though keeping slavery legal was one of their priorities. So you see we can not be single issue voters. The north while being against slavery, were worse on other issues.

    BTW I do not believe in any of the above arguments, although I have no answer for them. Stay away from the slavery issue, unless you are speaking to a non-Catholic.

  9. Antonius says:

    you know I get tired of hearing the argument that well the democrats are interested in protecting the poor or this or that so it is ok to invite the Obamessiah. Did the Great Society work? No, we just ended up with more poverty, I think it is time that Catholics, and Protestants and even Moslems need to work outside the political box and learn that the Federal government will never solve the problem, just confound them. A great man and I would say a prophet once said the nine scariest words in the english language is “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” I dare say we can eliminate homelessness and hunger very easily in this country considering how much abundance and blessings by just think locally. MOst of our ills can be eliminated just by doing it ourselves

  10. Trad Tom says:

    Thank you for these talking point rebuttals! These are exactly the comments I get from my so-called Catholic friends (most of whom are Catholic Democrats).

  11. Jaques says:

    I don’t think it is fair to label Sarkozy as pro-choice. Obviously/sadly he hasn’t been a pro-life leader, but I don’t know of any statment, vote, or decision he has made that would advance abortion.

    In the last French Presidential election Sarkozy was def. the lesser of two evils and for better or worse, about as good as one can hope for (from a Catholic perspective) of a western European leader.

    In France abortion after the first 10 (not 12) weeks is very strictly regulated. Also, don’t forget, France was the first place where the RU-486 pill was legalized (in 1994).

    I think this sort of creates an “out of sight out of mind” mentality on the matter. As Catholics of course we are to be pro-life from the moment of conception, but for many people, the further along the pregnancy is the more uncomfortable they become with abortion. Since there are not late-term abortions or abortion on demand in France, the issue just does not seem to come up in the political debate often.

    I think (though I could be wrong) Sarkozy did play a role in defeating the legalization of Euthanasia in France at one point, also I know he has spoken out against gay-marriage (though pro-civil unions). Though it is rather hard to translate French politics into the terms of US poltics and culture-war style issues.

    Sarkozy and the Pope seem to have a very warm friendship, despite his divorce Sarkozy is still a believer and a practicing Catholic who has spoken eloquently on the need for Christianity to have a voice in the public square.

    As such, I am willing to give him the bennifit of the doubt and not put him in the same league as Obama on the abortion issue. Until he acts or says otherwise, I would assume that Nicholas Sarkozy accepts the teachings of his Church on the life issues.

  12. Bill in Texas says:

    In addition to your excellent counterpoints, I’d like to suggest an additional response to Talking Point #1: It is difficult to see how President Obama can say he is acting to reduce the number of abortions when his every action so far has served to make them easier to obtain. He has done nothing to support providing and strengthening alternative choices: adoption, support for mothers (and fathers) who are challenged in terms of money and skills to take care of a family, support for families who have children with mental and/or physical handicaps. Most of all, he has done nothing to support countering the conditions and reinforcement within American society that teach the young that sex is just trivial recreational activity and that there’s nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage.

    Until the President does something about all of these issues, his promise to make abortion less common will ring false.

  13. Marty Helgesen says:

    “The truth is not determined by polling.” That is an important truth.

    “When a majority of the world thought that the world was flat, that majority opinion did not make the world flat.”

    .Except that there seems to have been no such majority. Every educated man knew the earth was round, and serfs and other uneducated people probably never thought about the question. In the first article of the Summa Theologica, written over a century before Columbus, St. Thomas used the fact that the earth is round as an example of a fact that can be known in more than one way. He took it for granted that his readers knew it was round.

    For a far fuller discussion of the physical shape of the world see Inventing the Flat Earth : Columbus and Modern Historians by Jeffry Burton Russell, which, for some reason or other, was published in 1991.

    I think the fact that everyone knew the earth was round is important and should be publicized wherever possible because some non-Catholics, espcially of the atheist/agnostic variety, use the alleged Church teaching that the world is flat as an argument against the Church.

  14. Scranton Catholic says:

    When they say that we are aligning with one party against another, point out that Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, has been asked to refrain from communion publically and explicitly. This is not a party issue. Pro choice Republicans also receive consequences for their actions.

  15. stefan says:

    “Catholics have no problem cooperating with anyone in improving people’s lives. However, it is not permissible to cooperate in an intrinsically evil act.”

    Sometimes these two goals conflict and pretending they never conflict is avoiding the argument being made.

  16. mpm says:

    Comment by Jaques — 15 May 2009 @ 2:52 pm


    I’m glad you made those points about President Sarkozy. It makes very clear how different he, and his approach, is from a Kennedy, Biden, Pelosi, Kmiec, etc. Our “devout but defiant” Catholics have made no effort whatsover to influence for the better the Democrat Party postion in favor of the unlimited “right” to an abortion, and I would not expect them to oppose any euthanasia movement that would fund their coffers.

    One of the big differences between the abortion policy in France and the US is that here, by virtue of an activist Supreme Court, an arbitrary (though morally null) “right to abortion” was proclaimed, and constitutional rights are very significant in American society, thus the “abortion on demand” mentality, which is what the Obama administration is promoting, not just here but also everywhere in the world.

  17. stefan says:

    I also don’t understand why inviting Obama to speak at ND is “cooperat[ing] in an intrinsically evil act” while, say, paying income taxes to support an unjust war is not “cooperat[ing] in an intrinsically evil act” or, if it comes to that in the future, paying income taxes to fund abortions. Speaking to people and letting them speak back to you — which is required if you want to actually communicate — is not in itself cooperating with the evil acts of those people. Indeed, it can be quite the opposite.

  18. mpm says:

    Comment by stefan — 15 May 2009 @ 3:48 pm


    In Catholic moral analysis, there are three things to define before any analysis can be done: 1) the nature of the act itself; 2) the intention of the actor; and 3) other relevant circumstances. Neither 2 or 3 allow one to (otherwise) engage in 1, period, if 1 is “instrinsically evil”.

    Abortion is an “intrinsically evil act” without regard to one’s intention (reduce poverty), or any other circumstances (rape, incest), because it is always the killing of an innocent human being.

    When you mention paying taxes is inconsistent with a) funding an unjust war, or b) funding abortions, you need to consider that paying taxes is not a voluntary act, but is coerced by the government, and that citizens have a duty to pay taxes (up to a point). If all taxes paid for unjust wars and abortions exclusively, then paying taxes would be morally wrong (though not intrinsically evil), because of what the money was being used for.

    Inviting Obama to be honored by Notre Dame is not intrinsically evil, but is evil in the circumstances “on the ground”. Institutions representative of the Catholic Church cannot condone, or encourage, or assist, people or projects which are diametrically opposed to the Church’s core moral teachings, which ultimately come from God. This was not created by the Bishops’ Conference, but specified in their guidelines. Unfortunately, people speak about that as a “policy”, but in fact, it is a bit more. Notre Dame made no effort to abide by those teachings, so they have offended on two grounds: a) the level of moral principle, and b) as disobedient, or defiant, of the established guidelines promulgated by the hierarchy in the USA. In addition, there has been scandal given, which in the Catholic Church is not “I’m shocked, shocked, to learn that there is gambling going on here” of Casablanca, but the objective bad example given by people who should know better, and act accordingly.

  19. Gail F says:

    I agree that it is also important to challenge people on the idea that improving health care or working to eradicate poverty will have anything to do with reducing abortions. If that were true, the main reason for having an abortion in this country would be being poor or not having health care, and that is simply not the case.

    Stefan brings up a good point. There is a good answer for it, but that is also something that people ask and sincerely don’t understand. It’s the old, “If that’s so bad, why don’t you protest THIS?” argument, which is really avoiding the question by trying to change the subject. Jesus answered that one himself (“Render unto Caesar what is Ceasar’s,” but most people who ask that sort of question are not interested in what Jesus said.

  20. Jacob says:

    Hate to quibble…

    When a majority of Germans in the 1920’s and 30’s brought the National Socialist Party to power, they were not therefore doing a good thing.

    Actually, the NSDAP never won an outright majority of seats in the Reichstag. Even after Hitler was named chancellor by Hindenburg and had all the state media at Goebbels’ disposal, in the next election the party couldn’t pull it off.

    It took arson, an engineered political crisis and a boycott by the Social Democrats for Hitler to get his dictatorial powers. Of course, that damns Hitler’s contemporaries even more… ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil…’

  21. Rancher says:

    The “real” Obama position on abortion is perhaps best illustrated by his own comment that if his daughter were to get pregnant as an unwed he would not want her “burdened by a mistake.” If one follows his logic there is no way that he wants to reduce abortions. Why would one reduce something that eliminates a burden? In fact, to reduce the burden of unwanted pregnancies BO pushes an expansion of abortion. Any and all attempts to justify his position on abortion is pure rationalization.

  22. cato_the_younger says:

    In response to Christopher Sarsfield post I respectfully disagree. Slavery is an excellent argument to make. I would say do not shy away from the slavery argument, we should not let historical distortions take away from moral clarity the issue brings to the table. While the Church in the United States at that time vacillated on the issue, the Catholic Church has never supported slavery.

    From 1435 to 1890, we have numerous bulls and encyclicals from several popes written to many bishops and the whole Christian faithful condemning both slavery and the slave trade. On January 13, 1435, Pope Eugene IV issued from Florence the bull Sicut Dudum. Sent to Bishop Ferdinand, this bull condemned the enslavement of the black natives of the newly colonized Canary Islands.

    The 1839 Constitution In Supremo by Gregory XVI continued the antislavery teaching of his predecessors and wished to turn humanity away from slavery.

    Which brings me to my point. A great analogy can be drawn between the Kmiec Catholics and the clerics who dissented during the War Between the States. We can look to the dissent from the teachings of the Papal Magisterium as a key reason why the Church in the United States did not directly oppose slavery during the civil war. Ask your opponent; does the Church really need to follow the same example now?

    Deo Vindice –

  23. KPW says:

    This quote from Ronald Knox, speaking of St. Thomas More in “Captive Flames,” shows (unfortunately) what’s missing at Notre Dame:

    “Times like these. . . are difficult to live in for a Catholic who loves his faith. There is a continual apparent contrast between the restless speculations of the modern intellect, and those abiding certainties by which we live. The question continually arises: Is such and such a view, which I see propounded in the newspapers, consistent with Catholic truth? Is such and such a political expedient, which I see prominent men are advocating, justifiable in the light of Catholic doctrine? . . . Here and there, one or two of our Catholic friends drop out of the ranks, abandon their religion for no better than that they have caught by the glamour of modern movements. There is no acute conflict, but we are perpetually ill at ease, like a ship that drags its anchor.

    In such times, let us thank God’s mercy for giving us the example and the protection of a Saint . . . who knew how to absorb all that was in the culture of his day, yet knew at once, when the time came, that he must make a stand here; that he must give no quarter to the modern world here.”

  24. ckdexterhaven says:

    I wonder about this from the post “The USCCB said that Catholic institutions should not give these platforms to such politicians. Notre Dame ignored the USCCB. ”

    Why DID Notre Dame ignore the USCCB? Is it because ND doesn’t believe that the USCCB really believes their own statement? We already know that the so called voter guide from the USCCB was a joke.

  25. EDG says:

    Thank you for the talking points. I am extremely depressed because I have really thought, up to now, that the bishop was going to intervene at the last moment and stop this horrible thing from going forward. I guess not.

    At least this gives us something to say to people who even care enough to ask. But it’s going to be hard to say it without tears. I think this was a defining moment for the Church in the US, for the authority of the bishops, for the structure itself. And I hate to say it, but unless something happens in the next few hours, I think we blew it.

  26. Rancher says:


    There is nothing the Bishop could do (other than make the statement he has made) to stop this.

  27. Marty Helgesen says:

    Speaking of the slavery analogy, here are two signature tags I’ve used:

    Robert E. Lee was pro-choice on slavery.


    “If you don’t approve of abortion, don’t have one.”
    If you don’t approve of slavery, don’t own slaves.

    The quoted line is one I’ve actually seen.

  28. Carol says:

    Yes, this is a defining moment. The ND situation makes me think about the Sacrement of Confirmation, being a soldier of Christ and what that means.
    What are we willing to do for reparations?
    Fr, thanks for the talking points.

  29. TerryC says:

    Sweden is the best example of why improving health care and reducing poverty will not reduce abortions. The abortion rate in Sweden is twice the rate in the United States. They have universal health care and an extensive social safety net.
    I disagree that bishop D’Arcy cannot do anything. There is a range of actions he could take were he of a mind. Treatment of UND in the same way that Bishop Bruskewitz treated Planned Parenthood, Hemlock Society,
    Call to Action, Freemasons, and
    Catholics for a Free Choice come to mind. Certainly he could remove the facilities of all clerics at the University in his diocese. He could contact the Vatican and attempt to remove UND’s association with the Catholic Church. Would this action cause them to lose any tax exemption status they have as a Religious institution?
    Pretty hard ball maybe but hardball seemed to work for Pope Gregory VII with Henry IV.

  30. Ricky Vines says:

    About these talking points, can’t the defenders of abortion think for themselves that they
    have to be coached? It is because the only way to make their position tenable is to
    twist and frame it.

    So, any honest appraisal will be against the honor for Obama. The only way to explain
    this travesty is with talking points that spin the truth. And honest Democrats who
    are not used to lying or bending the truth need a little guidance.

  31. EDG says:

    Rancher, bishops actually do have control over the activities of religious orders and all clergy in their dioceses. They have to give permission for a religious order to operate in their diocese, they can control the faculties of the priests in it, and in addition, they can also refuse to permit an institution to be considered a Catholic institution.

    I’m not saying that the entire Holy Cross order should be expelled from the diocese; for one thing, it has some very good, orthodox men in it who are equally scandalized by this event. But judging by the way Fr Jenkins is blithely going about his destructive business and not even bothering to respond seriously (except with more pro-Obama gushing), he himself feels under no threat, and he and the board of ND are obviously not concerned about any possibility of losing their status as a Catholic university. This leads me to think (although I certainly do not know for sure) that no serious threat has even been made by Bishop D’Arcy or anybody with the authority to do so.

    Fr Jenkins has gotten away with defying the bishop several times in the past, over things ranging from the campus “Gay Fair” to the Vagina Monologues. Nothing has happened to him or the university for their defiance, and I suspect they feel they have nothing to worry about this time, either. They’re probably right.

    I read a very perceptive comment on another blog that this is actually linked to that dread word “pastoral.” This excuses the bishops from actually doing anything (it might offend somebody and hence not be “pastoral,” in the mushy definition given to this word) and limits their responsibility to giving a sort of nagging admonishment, at most. The blog poster that I read also said that he or she thought that this originated with the failure of the bishops to back up Paul VI on Humanae Vitae or make their clergy support it. They set a terrible example. Soon everyone began to regard the statements of the Pope, first of all, and the bishops, secondly, as merely advisory and devoid of any authority.

  32. mpm says:


    On your last point about Humanae vitae, I think it is factually correct to say that when Cardinal Boyle, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., wanted to put some serious canonical hurt on Charles Curran and his dissenting “theologians” there, He was discouraged by “the Vatican”. I don’t know if this is documented anywhere or not, but I was in D.C. at the time, and learned that from the news, or possibly by word-of-mouth. That was the “chilling effect” that made a lot of bishops have second thoughts about “disciplining” dissidents, I think.

    Note I use “the Vatican”, not to indicate the Pope, but someone, or something, other than the Pope.

  33. laurel cobb says:

    Re: social justice issues

    That the poor should be helped is clear. HOW they are helped is a policy choice.

    One could say: help the poor by giving them welfare payments. Or, one could say: help the poor by helping small businesses which will give them jobs. Or, one could say: help the ppor by giving tax credits for donations to charitable organizations that help the poor. etc. etc.

    Abortion is killing. End of story

  34. saraQarmstrong says:

    I understand the point that the Pope did not bestow a formal “honor” on Fidel Castro when he met with them. In the Notre Dame case there is no honor being bestowed on the President of the United States. It is simply a Notre Dame degree — hardly something of honor — when compared to a Harvard or University of Chicago degree that Mr. Obama already has.
    Sara ’79

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