He was the last-minute replacement after Mary Ann Glendon’s last-minute cancellation. The federal judge and former Lateare Medal honoree (this was the first time since 1883 the medal was not awarded) was a very smart pick, and he did not disappoint.
UPDATE: Full text here at ND’s site below the video.
From the Notre Dame Observer…
Noonan said “claims of conflicting consciences” are the center of the debate, and that opposing viewpoints cannot be shunned or denounced.
“[Will you] help your cause by hurting your friends? No. What does work is prayer, patience, empathy, and the love that encircles the other person, a fellow creature attempting to do what he or she sees as right,” Noonan said.
Noonan highlighted the moral issues on which he claimed all people can agree – genocide, slavery and torture among them – saying people share a “clear moral vision” that comes from “experience, suffering and by strenuous debate.”
The “outright opposition” of others, Noonan said, “delayed the day of victory for each of the great moral causes where truth ultimately prevailed.”
He praised Glendon, a friend and fellow conservative, for her “lonely, courageous and conscientious choice.” But he also offered another apporach:
“I respect her decision,” he said. “At the same time, I am here to confirm that all consciences are not the same, and we can recognize great goodness in our nation’s president without defending all of his multitudinous decisions; and that we can rejoice together on this wholly happy occasion.
“We can rejoice that we live in a country where dialogue, however difficult, is doable; where resolution of our differences is done in peaceful ways; where our president is a man of conscience,” Noonan said to applause from throughout the arena.
Noonan’s writings are formidable and challenging and hopefully this event will bring them an even wider audience. Notre Dame’s own Cathleen Kaveny (and dotCommonwealer) has a post with links to a lot of worthwhile Noonania.