The next logical step

A great quote:

"This is a highly cynical act, contemptuous of the Church’s prophetic voice in civil society and wagering that there will be no retribution.  If a midwestern school seeks attention by granting Mr. Obama an honorary degree in law, the next logical step would be to grant Judas Iscariot posthumously an honorary degree in busines administration."
                                                                                           — Fr. George W. Rutler

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Fr Rutler strikes again!

  2. clunk, that was one big brick, right between the eyes ;>)

  3. Approximately seventy Roman Catholic bishops
    are reported to have issued public denunciations
    of the decision of Notre Dame University
    to invite Barry Soetoro/Barack Hussein Obama
    to deliver the commencement address to the 2009 graduating
    class of the University and to receive a honorary
    doctor of laws degree on May 17.

    Truly this is an historic development in the life of
    the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.
    Those who are not members of the Catholic Church
    cannot appreciate the special place Notre Dame University
    has occupied in the hearts and minds of Catholics generally
    but especially in the hearts and minds of the bishops of
    the United States. In large part it was a simple matter
    of pride.

    This place of pride undoubtedly started with the success
    of Notre Dame football. As the University drew increasing
    national attention to itself because of its football successes,
    it also began to acquire respect as an institution of higher learning.
    The University became a symbol of the growing importance
    of Catholic laity in the professions and indeed in all
    sectors of American society.

    That unique status of Notre Dame began to be threatened
    under the presidency of Father Theodore Hesburgh who,
    consciously or not, began to move the University in the
    same direction of secular humanism as all the other
    major private universities of the Nation. The crucial
    moment in that transition occurred when Hesburgh
    invited Governor Mario Cuomo to speak at a
    Notre Dame commencement just as Father John
    Jenkins has invited Obama.

    In the intervening years between the Cuomo and Obama
    invitations there have been numerous actions by
    the University which were tantamount to kicking sand in
    the face of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy and laity.
    What caused the 70 bishops to react now when they
    have ignored the University”s transgressions in the past.

    I suggest that there are several factors. First, the bishops have taken
    a lot of blame for facilitating the election of Obama by the flawed voters guide which the USCCB issued before the election. Second, the bishops have taken a lot of blame for the failure of the pro-life movement to achieve more success; blame attributed
    to them at the local level. The accusation was frequently heard that the bishops could be relied upon to issue strong statements at the national level through the USCCB, but back in their own dioceses their silence and inaction was a scandal to the pro-life Catholics. Third, the fallout from the pedophilia scandal and the bankruptcy of so many dioceses that had to pay huge sums to the victims, has made the bishops more
    sensitive to criticism. And finally, there are an increasing number of conservative and courageous new bishops appointed by Pope Benedict and the willingness of these new bishops to speak up has encouraged some of the other timid bishops.

    Some Catholics, active in the pro-life movement for many years and frustrated by the refusal of the American bishops to invoke the canonical penalty of Canon 915 by denying access to Holy Communion on the part of pro-abortion Catholic politicians, see the action of the seventy bishops who are protesting the Obama invitation by Notre Dame as an opening to put pressure on all of the bishops to do their duty under Canon 915. I think that that would be a mistake, as much as I would like to see that Canon invoked much more than it has been.

    It would be as mistake because what has motivated many, if not most, of the seventy bishops to speak up has been the boldness with which the University has defied the express prohibition uttered by the Holy See and the USCCB against Catholic institutions of higher learning honoring politicians who are notorious for their support of abortion-on-demand. Of all such politicians Obama is surely the worse. Notre Dame’s honoring him
    was, in a sense, the last straw. 350,000 Catholics saw it that way and signed petitions asking Notre Dame to withdraw the invitation. The bishops much surely have been impressed by that response by Catholic laity and were in turn emboldened by it.

    I suggest that rather than the pro-life movement focusing at this time on a push to have more bishops invoke Canon 915, it would be far more opportune to urge the whole USCCB to now begin to take some action against ALL of the Catholic schools that honor
    pro-abortion politicians. Just recently several Jesuit universities have imitated Notre Dame and have honored pro-abortion politicians, Georgetown University’s honoring Vice President Joseph Biden is an example.

    The ultimate weapon which the bishops possess in their struggle with these renegade universities is he withdrawal of the right of a university to call itself “Catholic” and to remove the listing of the university from the Official Catholic Directory. No one wants to see it come to that, but the situation cannot be allowed to deteriorate as it has in reaching this low point of the the Obama honorary degree.

    That pressure to bring the defiant universities back into orthodoxy combined with the hoped for increasing pressure on the American bishops by the Holy See should embolden more shy and introverted bishops to take action in withholding Holy Communion under Canon 915.

    –Leo Rugiens

  4. EDG says:

    Go Fr Rutler! I used to listen to his great “Seven Last Words” on Good Friday at St. Agnes every year; each year it was based on seven different somethings, such as the Seven Wonders of the World, for example, connected with the Seven Last Words. He talked for 3 hours and kept the entire, completely full church enthralled for every minute of it. But the pithy dart is equally one of his specialties, as we see here. “If a midwestern school seeks attention…” Ouch!

  5. Supertradmom says:

    school = failed Catholic university

  6. Larry says:

    Now that is putting it bluntly. Right on Fr. Rutler!

  7. Niedersachse says:

    I object ND’s honoring of Obama as well, but I find this analogy rather tasteless, polemic and out of proportion. This is exactly the kind of rhetoric that will enable the supporters of ND’s initiative to label the opposition as “sectarian” and “anti-dialogue”… is anyone really interested in solving this issue before commencement, or do people enjoy the situation so much they just want to keep arguing?

  8. Matthew says:

    Fr. Rutler has been called the Newman of our era. It’s not for me to say if that’s true or not, but he is definitely one of the wittiest men alive today. If you’re ever in New York, stop by the Church of Our Saviour for a sermon or two–he’s a real Cicero.

  9. MAJ Tony says:

    Niedersachse, I hardly think comparing the biggest supporter of abortion rights to ever become PotUS to Judas “out of proportion.” The Lord himself said “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. Matthew 25:45-46

  10. JohnE says:

    Or you could honor Judas for his zealous fight for social justice and concern for the poor (remember that costly perfume that could have been sold?)

  11. Latekate says:

    “Or you could honor Judas for his zealous fight for social justice and concern for the poor (remember that costly perfume that could have been sold?)”

    Very good point!

  12. David Kastel says:

    I don’t understand the analogy. Can someone actually explain it?

    Where does Fr Rutler get “business administration” from?

  13. David Kastel says:


  14. Phil Steinacker says:


    You and I couldn’t disagree more.

    Tasteless and out of proportion? No way! Our national Catholic community has been awakened from a deep slumber, and the alarm that sounded it arises from a palpable sense of betrayal of Catholic principles and a newly resurrected Catholic identity.

    “The supporters of ND’s initiative” don’t need an excuse “to label the opposition as ‘sectarian’ and ‘anti-dialogue.’ Even if all bishops, commentators, and Internet commenters were to refrain from any colorful rhetoric at all, rest assured Fr. Jenkins’ and his legions
    would behave as they have all along – to distort the bishops’ 2004 statement by carving out new territory in inappropriate behavior for so-called Catholic institutions.

    Fr. Rutler has it exactly right: the betrayal of our Catholi identity (our Catholic faith) is tantamount to the greatest of all betrayals: that of Christ by Judas. Christ is the Church, remember? We cannot make light of this, and so highlighting Notre Shame’s betrayal of everything Catholic is – and must be – completely accceptable, if not necessary.

    Also, I find it astonishing that anyone would suggest an opportunity exists for “solving this issue before commencement.” Are you paying any attention at all to Fr. Jenkins’ public statements, and those of his defenders? With one week to go before Obama’s address, and with the leak of the text of Notre Shame’s award to Obama, there remains little likelihood that a “solution” – as you call it – exists.

    The Notre Shame administration has dug in its heels on this, and they haven’t publicly offered to consider a compromise mentioned by many – to keep the invite alive while
    withdrawing the honoring of Obama.

    Your last line reveals you may be the blog post version of a radio talk show “seminar caller” – a plant who first establishes his credentials by announcing he’s a “conservative Republican.” That opening is always a dead giveaway, since the remainder of your comment suggests you’re a shill for those who support Notre Shame.

    You’ll have to do far better than that to convince this crowd.

  15. Supertradmom says:

    Maybe if we used the term “murdering babies” instead of abortion, someone like Mr. Niederachse would not have a problem with “proportional” language. Also, there is only one group of people who can solve this problem and that is the administration/board of directors at ND. We can comment and pray, but only those who began this travesty can end it. One more day-couldn’t they still back down and rescind the invitation and re-consider the degree?

  16. Niedersachse says:

    @Phil Steinacker:

    I neither intend to be a “seminar caller” nor something else you might want to make of me. I post from overseas, which is probably why I don’t know about the many “compromises” you mention that have been offered to the Notre Dame administration. Furthermore, I never intended to defend the honoring of Obama – no matter how you want to read my post, you will not find any hint that I support it. I’m saddened by that plan, as I am saddened by the wave of hostility and division it has created that threatens not only the unity of the Church, but also the peace of heart of many brothers and sisters in Christ. What I was saying is that I find a comparison between Obama and Judas Iscariot out of proportion and tasteless – and I stand by these words. You are free to disagree with me, but before you use this simple statement of mine to judge me, start looking for the log in your own eye.

  17. ssoldie says:

    Accuret analogy, Thank you and God bless you Fr. Rutler.

  18. Patrick says:

    This was in my inbox this morning:

    To Bear Witness To the Truth:
    An Unequivocal Moral Obligation for All Christians

    by Rev. John Corapi, SOLT, STD

    Every Catholic and, indeed, every Christian faithful to the Gospel, has the moral obligation to bear witness to the truth, “in season and out of season, convenient or inconvenient,” accepted or rejected. This mandate is nothing new, of course. It’s as old as the Old Testament, and as new as the New Testament. Nonetheless, I’m afraid that it has become more necessary than ever to remind ourselves of it.

    The Magisterium formally teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2471, quoting Sacred Scripture, “Before [Pontius] Pilate, Christ proclaimed the He has ‘come into the world to bear witness to the truth’ (Jn 18:37). The Christian is not to be ‘ashamed then of testifying to our Lord’ (2 Tm 1:8). In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of St. Paul before his judges. We must keep ‘a clear conscience toward God and toward men’” (Acts 24:16).

    Let me give you one definition of equivocation: “A statement that is not literally false but that cleverly avoids an unpleasant truth; intentionally vague or ambiguous.” How about this for an example: “A woman has the right to choose.” Choose what? A less vague, ambiguous, and equivocal statement would be, “A woman (or man) has the right to choose to perpetrate homicide. Or, “A nation has the right to facilitate, enable, or legislate genocide.”
    Oh, excuse me, that would be an unpleasant truth, or maybe an “inconvenient truth,” as the inventor of the internet, Al Gore, might say.

    The Catholic Church unambiguously and formally teaches:
    The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them [IMPELS THEM] to act as witnesses of the Gospel and the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. WITNESS IS AN ACT OF JUSTICE THAT ESTABLISHES THE TRUTH OR MAKES IT KNOWN (see Matthew 18:16).

    The recent travesty involving the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to the President of the United States to give the commencement address and receive an honorary doctor of laws degree is the antithesis of Catholic and Christian witness to the truth. A lawyer who vigorously, publicly, and consistently support an anti-life and anti-family litany of evils will now receive an honorary doctor of laws degree from what is arguably the most prestigious Catholic University in America.

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Indeed, what thousand words will be conveyed by the picture(s) of Mr. Obama receiving his honorary doctorate and sending off the graduating class at Notre Dame University?

    This will be a dark day indeed for the University of Notre Dame and the Catholic Church that permitted it to happen. In the end, the bishops have the right and the duty to decide if the University of Notre Dame can any longer claim “Catholic” credentials.
    Meanwhile, the obligation to bear witness to the truth weighs more heavily than ever on each one of us. We have rapidly entered into a new era of persecution of the Church and the truth that she professes and teaches, reminding us again,

    “The disciple of Christ must not only keep faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.” (Lumen gentius 42; Dignitatis Humanae 14).
    Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 10:32-33).

    God Bless You,
    Fr. John Corapi

  19. irishgirl says:

    Fr. Rutler-bingo! That’s it in a nutshell!

    Ditto to Fr. Corapi, too!

    Papa Benedict, can you make these two courageous priests Bishops?

  20. Michael J says:

    Niedersachse ,
    The comparison was not between Obama and Judas Iscariot but between bestowing an honor upon Obama and bestowing a similar honor upon Judas.

    That being said, perhaps you would care to explain why you find it “out of proportion and tasteless”?

  21. Phil Steinacker says:


    Don\’t be so sensitive. Learn the differnce between overt, direct criticsm and real jusgment. I haven\’t begun to judge you – I only recognized specific traits in your language that rendered your comments suspect as well as misguided and…well, judgmental of Fr. Rutler.

    I am unconcerned with judging you. Frankly, I don\’t care about judging you.

    Our Church may be on the verge of being torn into two. That indeed is sad, but it appears a reality that cannot be avoided, especially if avoiding it means we continue to play nicey-nice with those \”Catholics\” who insist on twisting Church teaching to suit their political agendas.

    As for the log in my eye, I suggested you \”may\” be dishonestly posting here. I deliberately did not make that a certain statement, allowing the possibiltiy you were legitimate. The only judgmentalism I see is your own regarding Fr. Rutler, and his credentials and his credibility far exceed yours.

    As for tasteless and out of proportion, I second Michael J\’s challenge to you. Perhaps residing outside the country makes it too difficult for you to follow the conversation. If so, that may not be your fault exactly.

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