Friday, April 10, 2009

Fr. Jenkins Finally Responds to the Criticism

LifeSite has what is alleged to be the official response to all the Obama backlash.

I'm sure everyone here will say I'm biased, but this strikes me as arrogant and intellectually dishonest. Who are these canon lawyers and why is their opinion more important than the bishops (or even the local ordinary) in question? If all this is so appropriate, why was Bishop D'Arcy not informed until the 11th hour?

Let's take a look at the various rationale employed by President Jenkins:

"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."

Because the title of the document is "Catholics in Political Life", we understood this to refer to honoring Catholics whose actions are not in accord with our moral principles. This interpretation was supported by canon lawyers we consulted, who advised us that, by definition, only Catholics who implicitly recognize the authority of Church teaching can act in "defiance" of it. Moreover, fellow university presidents have told me that their bishops have told them that in fact it is only Catholic politicians who are referred to in this document.

So basically, we can just ditch the idea of natural law altogether. This isn't a question of "our" moral principles. This is about something intrinsically evil for which there is no excuse. I'm having some difficulty figuring out how Obama's being a heretic somehow mitigates his culpability. Would we use this excuse for someone who was an avowed racist? Maybe Jenkins can get Fred Phelps an honorary degree next year. Since heresy and schism can apparently excuse everything now, I don't see the difficulty.

I'll also point out that this "interpretation" employed by President Jenkins completely ignores the immediate context of the statement in question. The preceding three points speak generally of "public officials" and "political leaders." When it's speaking directly about Catholics in these categories, it says so. For example:

This requires more effective dialogue and engagement with all public officials, especially Catholic public officials.

I'd really like to know who the lawyers were the ignored the basic principles of construction to come up with this garbage excuse.

In addition, regardless of how one interprets the first sentence, the second is also important. It reads: "They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions. [My italics]" In every statement I have made about the invitation of President Obama and in every statement I will make, I express our disagreement with him on issues surrounding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research. If we repeatedly and clearly state that we do not support the President on these issues, we cannot be understood to "suggest support".

You're giving him an honorary degree. As Dr. Beckwith has pointed out, this is hypocritical no matter how you look at it. President Jenkins's "statements" of "disagreement" to this point are worthless in light of the basic logic behind this. We've already seen the comments coming out in this story about how a majority of Catholics voted for Obama in the election. All this invitation has done is de-emphasize the importance of the abortion issue. I eagerly await the statements he "will make" about this. I'm sure they will be paragons of fortitude and bravery worthy of the martyrs. Just like the one that okayed the Vagina Monologues.

Finally, the document states that "we need to do more to persuade all people that human life is precious and human dignity must be defended. This requires more effective dialogue and engagement with all public officials...." However misguided some might consider our actions, it is in the spirit of providing a basis for dialogue that we invited President Obama.

The word "dialogue" in this context seems to be abused. "Dialogue" suggests that Obama has something to bring to the table on this issue. He doesn't. On this particular issue, he's wrong. Any Catholic and/or Catholic institution has the obligation to tell him that he's wrong. No input he provides or comebacks he makes are legitimate. That's what needs to be made clear. I'm unsure of how that works when we're heaping accolades on him and telling him how great it is that he can get the trains running on time.

Then there's the closing:

On May 17 we will welcome the ninth President who will receive an honorary degree from Notre Dame. It will be an important opportunity to bring the leader of our nation to Notre Dame, and, I hope, a joyful day for our graduates and their families.

So no chance of rescinding the invite. "And to all you Successors of the Apostles who have a problem with it, tough $#!*" That's how it read to me, at least.

Believe it or not, President Jenkins was a very good philosophy professor. He seems to have rejected some of the discipline's core principles by agreeing to sign his name to a document backed by such pathetic arguments. Folks will sacrifice anything for the praise of the world, I guess.

No comments: