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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Notre Dame: The First Battle in a New War


May 21, 2009 by: Jason T. Adams, The Catholic Exchange

Last weekend my family and I stood with a couple thousand Catholics on Notre Dame’s south quad protesting the university’s decision to invite Barak Obama as commencement speaker and award to him an honorary degree. At the same time, most of the 12,000 predominantly Catholic commencement attendees cheered on the most pro-abortion official our nation has ever known. In the lead up to commencement it was broadly assumed that the President would rise above the fray and offer an eloquent but conventional commencement speech. Indeed, many who supported the invitation early in the controversy argued that Obama was not coming to give an abortion speech, concluding that the abortion issue was moot. But speak about abortion he did, and why wouldn’t he? This was a golden opportunity to have a packed arena of Catholics enthusiastically applaud his pro-abortion agenda. What a public relations coup for the President!

Notre Dame’s commencement witnessed not Obama the head of state, but Obama the moral teacher. Consider the standards he advanced:

-While pro-life and pro-choice supporters have irreconcilable differences, the decision whether or not to abort a child is a personal moral decision a woman must be free to make.

-Abortion rights can exist alongside efforts to reduce the number of abortions. These efforts include helping single mothers, promoting adoption, and funding sex education programs that promote contraception.

-The ends justify the means in the issue of embryonic stem cell research. The lives of innocent unborn children can and should be sacrificed if embryonic stem cell research shows any promise of curing things like juvenile diabetes.

-The problems the world faces are too big for one religion to solve, so we must not see the faith and moral teachings of one particular religion as superior to any other.


Let me ask you, which one of these teachings does the Catholic Church accept? None! Every one of these dictates is irreconcilable with the most fundamental teachings of Catholicism. The real commencement message was never heard because it was couched in such lofty and eloquent platitudes. I can translate:

Let me begin by establishing my moral authority among Catholics. I carried the Catholic vote in November and I have plainly won the support of America’s preeminent Catholic college. By virtue of your having invited me to this commencement and awarding me this honorary law degree, you have shown that you are fair-minded, unlike the lunatic fringe that opposed my visit. You are the new mainstream Catholics, choosing to follow the dictates of pragmatism rather than those of a washed up hierarchy whose teachings are no longer relevant. It is time to abandon the pro-life dogmatism of yesterday for the greater cause of peace and progress. I outlined the solution to this worn out abortion debate during my campaign and I am reiterating that solution today. Keep abortion legal so women can exercise their right to privacy unhindered by meddlesome religious fanatics. Expand embryonic stem cell research so we can cure disease. Today, I would ask of you one more thing that will require of you a long overdue open-mindedness. Leave behind the antiquated sectarianism that has historically characterized the Catholic Church, and begin thinking in terms of one composite religion in which all doctrine is submitted to the larger goal of cooperation and tolerance. We need stand for nothing but unity. Will you follow me?

From the crowd there arose a resounding “yes!” -– loyal submission of intellect and will. Notre Dame has denied its rightful teachers, the bishops, for decades.

Notre Dame was wrong for inviting President Obama and awarding him an honorary law degree for two reasons. Never in our nation’s history has there been a President so hostile to the dignity of unborn children. He has promised to work vigorously to oppose everything the Catholic Church teaches on the most fundamental of human rights — the right to life. That ought to be enough to rule him out as a commencement speaker in what is arguably the nation’s most notable Catholic college. There is another reason Notre Dame is in the wrong. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has decided in no uncertain terms that Catholic institutions are not to issue speaking invitations and awards to figures who oppose the moral law: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions” (Catholics in Political Life , 2004).

By these two counts, Notre Dame has besmirched the Church’s solemn teaching on abortion and embryonic stem cell research, and has made a scandalous show of its animosity toward Church authority. At last count, over 80 bishops have publicly condemned Notre Dame’s actions, including the bishop of South Bend. When a major Catholic institution so publicly and egregiously betrays its commission, the Catholic faithful are obligated to oppose it. There was a time when the fight for the soul of Catholicism was something like an insurgency: a dissident professor here, a wayward bishop there, an occasional heretical book. We have, to an extent, been lulled to sleep while these small scale and episodic threats blend into the backdrop of Catholic life. While we were sleeping, a full frontal siege has been waged. The question is, will we ever wake up?

Jason holds a Master's in Theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville (2000) and teaches Theology at St. Theodore Guerin High School in Noblesville, Indiana. He is the author of Called to Give Life: The Blessings of Children and the Harms of Contraception, published by One More Soul. You can read Jason's blog at www.amusingcatholic.blogspot.com.

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Not just a prayer book for teens...but for people of all ages! You will LOVE it! Order your copy TODAY!

Books for Children

  • Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss
  • The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith, by Josephine Nobisso
  • The Princess and the Kiss, by Jennie Bishop
  • Angel in the Waters, by Regina Doman

More Recommended Reading

  • Abortion: Yes or No? by John L. Grady, M.D.
  • Changed ~ Making Sense of Your Own or a Loved One's Abortion Experience, by Michaelene Fredenburg
  • Ending Abortion Not Just Fighting It, by Fr. Frank A. Pavone, M.E.V.
  • Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), by Pope John Paul II
  • God Is Love, An Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI
  • Humane Vitae: A Challenge to Love, by Pope Paul VI
  • Is the Fetus Human? by Eric Pastuszek
  • Led by Faith, by Immaculee Ilibigiza
  • Left to Tell, by Immaculee Ilibigiza
  • Living the Gospel of Life ~ the pastoral statement issued by U.S. Catholic Bishops
  • Noise, by Teresa Tomeo
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe, Hope for the World by Dan Lynch
  • Render Unto Caesar, by Charles J. Chaput
  • The Way to Love, by Anthony De Mello
  • Won By Love, by Norma McCorvey

Dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe
Patroness of the Americas, Intercessor for the Pre-born
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