The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

“I am greatly pleased that Obama has agreed to speak at my alma mater…”

posted by deacon greg kandra

In the Washington Post this Sunday, you could read this opinion on the Obama-Notre Dame mess:

I am an alumnus of Notre Dame. I am adamantly pro-life, independent as a voter — and greatly pleased that Obama has agreed to speak at my alma mater. He joins six other sitting presidents going back to Dwight D. Eisenhower — including George W. Bush — who have addressed the university. Politically, I had disagreements with each of them. Yet I never supposed that by granting them the commencement podium the university was signaling its approval of their policies. Neither, now, should the bishops.

On the dais at Notre Dame, Obama will find a familiar face: Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon, Bush’s ambassador to the Vatican, who will receive this year’s Laetare Medal in part for her peerless defense of human life. It’s important that the president hear her message as well as deliver his own. It is equally important that this kind of engagement take place at a university devoted to both faith and reason. Where else but in a university setting should we expect this kind of principled presentation of issues?

No question, Notre Dame will pay a price for doing what a Catholic university can and should do. The Internet is smoking with protests from conservative Catholic bloggers and pro-life Web sites. One of them claims to have collected 206,000 signatures opposing the president’s appearance. These pressure groups are aghast that “Our Lady’s University” would welcome so resolute an opponent of the church’s position on abortion. Some alumni, especially Republicans, are threatening to withhold contributions and bequests. The Vatican is receiving e-mail demanding disciplinary action.

Catholicism is not a sect that shuns the world as evil. As a body, the American hierarchy has usually been both principled and open to political engagement. The bishops have congratulated the new president on his victory and pledged to work with him on issues affecting social and economic justice. Do they now find him morally unfit to speak at a Catholic university?

Obama is not coming to Notre Dame to press a pro-choice agenda but to address issues that affect all American citizens, including Catholics. He will be speaking to students who, like other Americans, gave him a majority of their votes. He will receive an honorary degree because it is the custom, not as a blessing on any of his decisions.

American bishops should remember that it was only a few decades ago that a Catholic was considered unfit for the White House. Do they now believe that a sitting president is unfit to address a Catholic university? It’s time the bishops gave a clear and principled response.

You can read the rest at the link.

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Fr. Stephen, C.S.C.

posted March 30, 2009 at 12:52 am

“The Internet is smoking with protests from conservative Catholic bloggers and pro-life Web sites.” . . . True – but is this meant to be dismissive? As a parish priest I can confirm that there are plenty of ‘subway alums’ and other everyday faithful Catholics who are confused and embarrassed by this decision.”Do they now find him morally unfit to speak at a Catholic university?” – No, but they find him unfit to be given an honor and held up for graduates as an example of how to practice law and politics.”American bishops should remember that it was only a few decades ago that a Catholic was considered unfit for the White House.” – and in the President’s party they still are; that is unless they check their faith at the door and yield to the abortion-on-demand religion of Planned Parenthood.

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St Edwards Blog

posted March 30, 2009 at 6:10 am

While I suspect I may be in a minority here, I agree with much of what is said in this piece.As someone who had to reconcile much when I returned to the faith almost 20 years ago, I was not reconciled by rejection. In fact rejection was an excuse that I used to stay away.I am often afraid to admit the slow movement of my own change of heart, but have done so more of late. If I gave up and if others gave up on me… well I think you see where I am headed.Hitting me over the head and pushing me away from the table would not have brought justice. The constant compassion and demand of Jesus’ words worked hand in hand in my life.No, in order for real change, transformation – metanoia, if you will, on-going engagement with both teaching and the Holy Spirit must take place.Jesus did not demand the sinner to clean up their act and only then show up… He invited first, transformed upon engagement. Or not. People can choose to walk away. As one who did not, it was because of Catholic teaching, wisdom, love, compassion and engagement in community and the Holy Spirit, that my own heart was to break open and finally change.Listening and engaging with someone does not mean I have fallen down on my faith. Such a thought is antithetical to all that I know about my faith. Rejecting someone with such vehemence does indeed seem antithetical to my faith. How can everyone be so sure that God’s hand at work creating true change happen in this case? It might take time and terminating a relationship, while not terminating life, not even close, can stand in the way of that.What I know is a speck of sand compared to the Bishops, but I also know of my own conversion, which while slow has been so rich. My only response to this grace is for me to share with the most lost of sheep what that really means.I want this President to have a true change of heart about life issues at all stages, starting with conception. That said, I can’t simply reject him with my own self-righteousness if I am to cooperate the grace with which that might take place.Fran

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posted March 30, 2009 at 7:53 am

But Jesus did not give awards to returning sinners who continued to sin. This event is symbolic and public in the macrocosm sense as was not the moment of your return. It is not an abortion debate which should take place and never does ( and I fault the Church and its opposition on this…Rome declaring is not debating….Rome should have a think tank who does the science on prenatal life and who thens goes to Harvard etc and really debates). This is an award ceremony and there will be no engagement of diverse points on abortion on the podium. It won’t be mentioned by anyone. It’s just a confusing signal. NT… “if the trumpet gives forth an uncertain blast, who will prepare for battle.”

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posted March 30, 2009 at 8:06 am

To Fran, You speak for me as well. Thank you.To our bishops; have you folks been reading the hate on catholic blogs ? Perhaps our leaders should call for ALL involved to go to confession before Easter. Let’s practice what we preach. You know that Love stuff is the hardest .

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James H

posted March 30, 2009 at 8:43 am

I wonder the person that worte this piece. He talks about all the Presidents that have visitted.If George Wallace had been elected instead of Nixon as President and Notre Dame would have invited hin would he had been so non chalent. I doubt it

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James H

posted March 30, 2009 at 8:50 am

Fran as was mentioned Jesus was not giving rewards and Honors out to the SInnersI guess what “conversation” people are expecting to happen with President Obama here. Is it the same converstion that has been so successful the last few monthsI noticed that the Q and A session of Archbisop Chaput is up he had with the press. He said he had no problem being on committees that deals with these moral problems as long basically he was consulted and was not just some prop.Is Notre Dame being used as a prop with no real conversation happening at all. I think it is.THis “conversation” has not worked so well with the Catholic politicans that are pro-choice over the decades that have appeared at Notre Dame.I guess my last thought on this is to the average Catholic there is a lot of scandal here.However to a lot of Christ filled Protestant neighbors they don’t get what is going on and it causes problems there.

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posted March 30, 2009 at 10:14 am

Woodward very clearly identifies the real meaning Obama’s visit holds for many of our fellow Catholics: “It is quite a coup for the nation’s most resonantly Catholic university. American Catholics and their bishops should be proud.”In truth, we have not come very far at all from the days when a seriously Catholic perspective was unwelcome on the American political scene. That perspective is still unwelcome. What is welcomed is an emaciated version of our faith, one reduced to symbols so empty that Notre Dame is going to honor our “abortion-rights” President for his views on jurisprudence.What is even worse is that we are supposed to be proud that our President would accept such an accolade from the grandchildren of despised immigrants. Speaking as a fellow ND grad, pride is not what I feel.

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posted March 30, 2009 at 11:46 am

Right on Ron! It’s not the beliefs of the President that we are particularily aghast at, (he is entitled to them). It’s the fact that Notre Dame will be HONORING him! Next graduation why doesn’t N.D. invite Edward Kennedy, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi etal over for an honorarium? Hey, don’t they deserve them? After all just the fact that they don’t believe in what our Church teaches shouldn’t be a deterent.

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Chris Sullivan

posted March 30, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Fran: well said.Perhaps we should take a lesson from Jesus who scandalised the Pharisees among us by regularly eating with sinners.He even invited Judas to his last supper (when he knew Judas has already betrayed him) and greeted Judas as friend when the soldiers came to arrest him.Maybe we ought to apply that lesson from the gospels to relations with Obama.God Bless

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posted March 30, 2009 at 2:05 pm

The reality is I doubt anyone on the Deacon’s Bench is going to undo Obama’s speaking engagement at ND. Like all of these scandals, pray and trust in Romans 8:28. For those of us who truly love God and respect LIFE, this WILL work for some greater good, as will Hillary’s faux pas at Our Lady of Guadalupe (does anyone think Hillary won’t at least become “well informed” of the real story of OLOG)?I’m telling you this can’t be a coincidence. I suggest all the outrage become one big national rosary, our most powerful weapon. After all, the rosary is simply the gospels of Jesus Christ, of which at least 75% of this country claims to believe.The pro life movement NEVER get’s national coverage, not even the DC march in Jan every year. I would love to see every pro lifer in the US start a rosary chain at the time of Obama’s speech. Who knows, this could be our “Laponto.”Why waste a great “teaching moment?”I want to add to Fran and others. I applaud your warm hearts and conversions, but do know that we are dealing with the most anti life president (and administration) in US History. We are so close to crossing the line between “human” and “animal” rights, and LOSING THE HOLINESS OF EACH AND EVERY HUMAN LIFE, it will make the financial crisis a mere footnote at best. If left unregulated, we are headed down a path against human life where no man has ever before dared to go, not only in science but in human ethics. We can only get there by first debasing the human embryo, which Obama has done quite nicely. ESC has NOTHING TO DO WITH CURES, and everything do with the horrors of what’s to come if this isn’t stopped, from fetal farming (why waste a good fetus), to doctors in this country being forced against conscience (and hippocratic oaths). For anyone who wants a wakeup call, follow Attorney and Bioethic guru Wesley J Smith on his daily “jaw dropping” blog on the advances against humsn life. In addition to many of his great books and lectures, Wesley doesn’t miss a beat, and one of the few in the country to have the savvy and the courage to speak out.If Kathleen Sebelius gets confirmed next week for HHS, know that the “culture of death in America” will have truly arrived. Our best hope is the rosary, (and a call to our senators of course). We are in serious perilous times, and it’s not about money, it’s about HUMAN LIFE, ALL of our lives, not just the unborn.Wesely’s blog is Second hand Smoke. Google Wesley J Smith AND second hand smoke or try this link Read through a month or so and prepare to be shocked. I suspect most Americans have no idea how close we are to being equal to our pets, if not lesser. I suspect few see this fast approaching nightmare, after all, it’s propaganda at its finest!It’s one thing to respect a sitting POTUS, it’s quite another to watch evil be “honored”, and stay silent. I believe this is one of those moments Bishop Sheen was talking about when he said “Every Catholic needs to stand up and be counted”, and fight the current upstream, not downstream where even dead fish can easily float.p.s. I have no affliation with WJS, just smart enough to recognize people smarter and more informed than myself.

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posted March 30, 2009 at 2:57 pm

and in the President’s party they still are; that is unless they check their faith at the door and yield to the abortion-on-demand religion of Planned Parenthood.Father, I am a Democrat and a Party officer, re-elected repeatedly. Anyone who says I have checked my faith at the Clubhouse door and yielded to the abortion-on-demand religion of Planned Parenthood is a liar and a cad.

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Ron King

posted March 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Fran and roamincat, I totally agree with you. Those who protest against the ‘award’ being given to the president cannot see that God is not limited in His involvement in our lives. Those who protest view the faith with a materialistic perspective and in their protests make our beautiful mystical faith look weak and angry rather than loving and peaceful. Can’t they see that what causes abortion is a lack of love in the first place that then leads to fear and anger in response to a loss of love.The answer is in Christ’s own words in the Beatitudes. The answer is at the Cross which was thought to be a scandal. Mary contemplated in her heart since the presentation in the temple what the mystical union of she and Our Lord would be. Her final words were “Do what He tells you.” He did not say do what your anger tells you.President Obama is coming to Her backyard. Who is stronger? Abortion can only end with a change of heart. John Paul II discovered his vocation while under Nazi persecution. Communism was defeated without violence. JP II met with Gorbachev in the Vatican. In her apparitions, Mary tells us to repent and pray the Rosary NOT to raise our hands with ketchup. Let’s stop our protesting mouths and fold our hands and pray for wisdom rather than angry defiance.Ron King

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posted March 30, 2009 at 5:38 pm

If anybody wants to know how we got the Gallup poll results that Deacon Greg posted above, all he has to do is read through this line of commentary. “Jesus was sweet and nicey-nicey, but you guys are so judgmental! I mean, we’re all sinners, so who are you to say XYZ is wrong?” Sound familiar? The Catholics that Gallup polled seem to think it’s a good summary of Catholic moral teaching.

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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted March 30, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Will Brandeis now invite that Holocaust denying renegade bishop to broaden the minds of their students? To listen to some defenses of Notre Dame one would think so. And what is giving an honorary degree to a politician who has, so far, achieved nothing as a senator or as president anything but the groves of academe’s version of political hackery. Being Catholic should mean something, whether on the individual level or the institutional level. To honor one of the worst baby-killing supporting politicians in America totally besmirches Notre Dame. It is done out of arrogant hubris writ large.

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Ron King

posted March 31, 2009 at 8:58 am

Ron,Your interpretation of those who support ND inviting Obama to commencement is blatantly wrong. Please read again without prejudice. Abortion is the result of fear and anger. I refuse to live my faith with fear and anger as do so many who misrepresent my faith.Deacon John, Being a Catholic does mean something to me. It means that in the mystical union I have with Jesus in the Eucharist I am then moved towards a mystical understanding of human relationships in which we are either connected in fear or in love. With that understanding I am choosing to using the path of love as a starting point to do my problem solving. A conversion does not occur under the influence of angry demonstration.Ron King

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posted March 31, 2009 at 10:44 am

Ron (and everyone else who thinks we should all “love love love” over all sin). I would disagree with you on the basis of what real LOVE really is? One thing I know it is not, is “confirming people in their sins and causing scandal.”Real love always demands the best for the others involved. As Catholics, the very best is simply total union with God, of which no human can objectively have when they make, support (in ANY way, including honoring) someone who is not protecting the least among us. What part of “intrinisic evil” do you guys not understand? Agape Love demands that we stand up against evil, albeit always in charity.The best thing this county could do for President Obama outside of prayer is to denouce, as loudly and publicly as possible, his disregard for the unborn.I know it’s not likely, but can you imagne the effect it would have if the majority of the country cried out STOP? All who don’t, in some way at least, are contributors to the evil.We would be wise to follow the Bishop and not think we know more, especially when based on our “feelings.”

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Ron King

posted March 31, 2009 at 11:26 am

Klaire. Once again prejudice prevents an understanding of what I am saying. You react without the slightest contemplation of what I said. I am pro-life. Where there is love there is only one choice.Those who oppose Obama’s visit are living our beautiful faith in a relativistic way. You sit a mock my expression of love. That is mean and hard-hearted.I returned to our beautiful faith after 40 years away Easter of ’05. This was right in the middle of the evil of sexual abuse being revealed in our faith. No human being converted me. God’s Love converted me and I am not going to betray his Love with actions that are not based in love.I hope you read and pray the Beatitudes. The unborn need the support of those who attract others to the faith. I continue to look to the Cross for my path and that is where the real solution will be found.

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posted April 3, 2009 at 1:50 am

I read a lot of material on John the Baptist lately. Jesus the Christ, The God Himself said:”Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”So here is this man dressed in camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. How would he fair when facing the tolerance crowd who say we should not say horrible things to others when we are talking about the holocaust of 50,000,000 babies? What if John the Baptist were the Bishop up in South Bend today? We might hear him say to Father Jenkins and all those who support honoring the abortion loving Obama, “you brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.””For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him.”John saw evil and got right in the face of the King. He knew he was risking his life. Wonder what John would have done if the Church founded by Christ had a teaching school using the mother of Christ as their lady was honoring a proponent of killing babies in the midst of the slaughter of 50 million babies? I suspect that this bishop would shut the place down before he would allow Mary’s University to be defiled and he would not use any tolerance. I also think he wouls speak very forcefully and very plainly about those who support the evil party of hate and murder, the democrats. He would put his very life on the line to be in the face of the so called priests under his area, the holy cross fathers and have them removed if they did not repent. And remember what Christ said about him once more..”Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”That is what Christ thinks about Bishops who are out front and angry about the killing of his children. To those who faith has lost its salt, he said that they should be thrown on the trash pile. Yes, Jesus knew a good bishop when he saw one and no milk toast kind of guy, but a John the Baptist one is the only kind worthy of this praise.

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