Monday, May 18, 2009

Obama and Notre Dame Wrap-Up

President Obama gave his commencement speech to the class of 09 at Notre Dame yesterday. He certainly didn't avoid the abortion issue, but took a pro-choice centrist position. What I mean by this is that he decided to say that he supports the "right to choose" to abort a baby, but that we can all be nice about it and we should all try to reduce the number of abortions, because it is a hard decision to make.

The immediate question I had (and others as well) is why? Why does someone who doesn't think this is a baby or who thinks it is a baby, but doesn't have rights, want to reduce the number of abortions? Why? I don't understand.

The next thought I had was that he believes he is on the winning side of the debate and wants everyone to "get along" so that abortion doesn't become a divisive issue for voters. If we all are playing nice, then the issue becomes a back burner one and other issues that Catholics can agree with him on can come to the front burner.

This quote caught my attention that at least the president is being intellectually honest:
"the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable"
This is absolutely true. Either we have a human life worthy of life or we do not. But, then he said this which sounded as if he wants to reconcile the camps somewhat:
"Those against stem cell research may be rooted in admirable conviction about the sacredness of life."
The problem is that ALL life is sacred, not just those who have been born. I just don't get it. There really were no suprises with President Obama's speech. Even the pro-Obama Catholics didn't think his speech made much of a splash.

What was suprising was the arrogance of Fr. Jenkins, the Notre Dame president.

Fr. Jenkins decided that anyone, including every US Bishops who commented on the scandal, did not want to have a "dialogue" with the President about difficult and divisive issues, because of their resistance to giving the President an honor. This is just a straw man argument and it is just like many other straw men arguments surrounding the abortion debate and the Catholic Church.

It is not that there can't be dialogue, civility, hospitality or the like. But, when the Catholic face of higher education in the USA, Notre Dame, decides to honor a president who supports the worst evil in our culture today, there is a big problem. It is the same problem that has infected so many of our parishes, dioceses, and our wider Church - it is a disconnect between what we say we believe and how we live. When a Catholic priest ignores the Bishops of the Church on a fundamental tenet of the faith, we have this lived out.

Yes, we can work with those we disagree with on issues we do agree with them on.
Yes, we can have a dialogue about very serious issues where we disagree.
But, we ought not honor someone with whom we differ with on a fundamental human rights issue that undergirds all others - the right to life.
Read Archbishop Burke's recent address to the National Prayer Breakfast on just that - living out our faith.

I will give the final word to Archbishop Chaput who said the following during a speech about Catholics and culture. Read several times and absorb this:
Some Catholics in both political parties are deeply troubled by these issues. But too many Catholics just don’t really care. That’s the truth of it. If they cared, our political environment would be different. If 65 million Catholics really cared about their faith and cared about what it teaches, neither political party could ignore what we believe about justice for the poor, or the homeless, or immigrants, or the unborn child. If 65 million American Catholics really understood their faith, we wouldn’t need to waste each other’s time arguing about whether the legalized killing of an unborn child is somehow ‘balanced out’ or excused by three other good social policies.

We need to stop over-counting our numbers, our influence, our institutions and our resources, because they’re not real. We can’t talk about following St. Paul and converting our culture until we sober up and get honest about what we’ve allowed ourselves to become. We need to stop lying to each other, to ourselves and to God by claiming to ‘personally oppose’ some homicidal evil -- but then allowing it to be legal at the same time.
Pray for Notre Dame and our leaders.


Coast said...

Because when we do that – when we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do – that’s when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.-Barack Obama, from his 2009 commencement address at Notre Dame

Marcel said...

How has Obama showed an open mind and heart to the pro-life position? How has Obama showed an open mind and heart to those across the aisle?