Today was a day that saddened many faithful Catholics, as the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history, Barack Obama, received an honorary degree and addressed the graduates at the University of Notre Dame. Fr. John Jenkins, the University president, has ignored the objections of 79 United States Bishops (HERE is the current list), who objected to the invitation, on the grounds that Obama’s support of abortion on demand is not compatible with Catholic teaching.
For some reason, Fr. Jenkins thinks that he knows better than 79 of the men who lead the Church, as the modern day successors to the Apostles. Fr. Jenkins has chosen to disregard the advice of these Church leaders because he has a “better idea”. In his introduction of President Obama, Jenkins quoted Pope Benedict XVI and Vatican II documents, but ultimately decided that granting an honorary degree to Obama is the best way to express displeasure with the President’s support of abortion.
Fr. Jenkins also feels that he is more knowledgeable than one of the highest ranking Vatican officials, Archbishop Raymond Burke, who referred to the Obama invitation as a “great scandal”. Burke, the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (the Vatican’s highest court), recently told Catholics at a national prayer breakfast in Washington, D.C., that “with unparalleled arrogance, our nation is choosing to renounce its foundation on the faithful.”
Since Fr. Jenkins knows “better” than the Vatican and 79 U.S. Bishops about how to express opposition to Obama’s extreme pro-abortion position, what exactly was his “master plan”? In his introductory remarks today, Fr. Jenkins stated that, “…President Obama has come to Notre Dame, though he knows well that we are fully supportive of Church teaching on the sanctity of human life, and we oppose his policies on abortion and embryonic stem cell research.” Taken out of context, it appears as if Jenkins is repudiating Obama for his anti-life position, but looking at the remainder of his speech illustrates that he is actually praising him for having the courage to visit the university in spite of all the controversy. Jenkins then continues with a series of comments that make it sound like Obama is being canonized a saint…
“…Others might have avoided this venue for that reason. But President Obama is not someone who stops talking to those who differ with him. Mr. President: This is a principle we share.
As the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council wrote in their pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes: “Respect and love ought to be extended also to those who think or act differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters. In fact, the more deeply we come to understand their ways of thinking through such courtesy and love, the more easily will we be able to enter into dialogue with them.”
If we want to extend courtesy, respect and love – and enter into dialogue – then surely we can start by acknowledging what is honorable in others.
We welcome President Obama to Notre Dame, and we honor him for the qualities and accomplishments the American people admired in him when they elected him. He is a man who grew up without a father, whose family was fed for a time with the help of food stamps — yet who mastered the most rigorous academic challenges, who turned his back on wealth to serve the poor, who sought the Presidency at a young age against long odds, and who – on the threshold of his goal — left the campaign to go to the bedside of his dying grandmother who helped raise him.
He is a leader who has great respect for the role of faith and religious institutions in public life. He has said: “Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square.”
He is the first African American to be elected President, yet his appeal powerfully transcends race. In a country that has been deeply wounded by racial hatred – he has been a healer.
He has set ambitious goals across a sweeping agenda — extending health care coverage to millions who don’t have it, improving education especially for those who most need it, promoting renewable energy for the sake of our economy, our security, and our climate.
He has declared the goal of a world without nuclear weapons and has begun arms reduction talks with the Russians.
He has pledged to accelerate America’s fight against poverty, to reform immigration to make it more humane, and to advance America’s merciful work in fighting disease in the poorest places on earth.
As commander-in-chief and as chief executive, he embraces with confidence both the burdens of leadership and the hopes of his country.
Ladies and Gentlemen: The President of the United States… “
Does this sound like the speech of someone who truly believes in the Catholic teaching that abortion is murder? I’m in no position to question Fr. Jenkins’ beliefs, but it’s similar to inviting Saddam Hussein to give a commencement address and stating that although you disagree with his mass executions, you really admire his jobs plan. It’s simply ludicrous. As Catholics, we can not condone Obama’s support of the murder of the unborn…period!
Are there any positives that can come out of this? Absolutely. For one thing, at least 79 U.S. bishops have expressed opposition to this scandal. Another positive is that this Obama’s pro-abortion position has gotten greater publicity. Despite what he says about wanting to “reduce abortions”, his policies prove otherwise and hopefully the public will become more aware of this fact. Thirdly, it makes us aware of the need to pray for our country. The fact that unborn children are being murdered every day under the guise of “freedom of choice” should infuriate us all. Lastly, we should use this incident as a reminder to pray for the conversion of all those who don’t see abortion as the holocaust that it is.
Through the intercession of Our Lady (“Notre Dame”), let us beseech Almighty God to change people’s heart and put an end to the horror of abortion. Amen.