Friday, April 17, 2009

ND Bishop on Obama/ND

Different ND there. Bishop Aquila is the shepherd of Fargo, North Dakota. In keeping with the recent trend of the rhetorical gloves coming off, he's pretty blunt in voicing his disapproval:

I was surprised and saddened when I learned about the invitation extended to President Obama to speak at Notre Dame’s commencement exercises and to receive an honorary degree. Your statements in defense of the award and invitation have only deepened my dismay.

This is something I've been hoping to see- responses to Fr. Jenkins's canon law defense. It would be good to hear from Archbishop Burke as well, considering his current position and canon law background.

The teaching of the Catholic Church on the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death is fundamental to our Catholic identity. I know you are a man of integrity and believe in the Church’s witness. I also know as a priest and a president of a Catholic University, you are well acquainted with Ex Corde Ecclesiae and the 2004 statement of the Bishops of the United States on “Catholics in Political Life.” Even though President Obama is not Catholic, he clearly rejects the truth about human dignity through his constant support of a so called “right to
abortion.” He also tolerates the inexcusable act of letting aborted children die who are born alive. He promotes an intrinsic evil which must always be resisted by a just and civil society.

Inviting President Obama to award him a degree and to speak at a Catholic University implicitly extends legitimacy to his views on these issues in the minds of the average onlooker. Your actions and that of the Board of Trustees of Notre Dame do real harm to the mission of Catholic education in this country and further splinters Catholic witness in the public square. Your actions provide a forum for an advocate of abortion, in a university which is committed to teaching the truths known to reason and science, and most of all to our faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of His Church. This places commitment to these truths on an equal plane with a commitment to an intrinsic evil which destroys innocent human life. Your judgment in this matter is seriously flawed, with damaging consequences, for “…you are not on the side of God, but of men” (Mt 16:23).

So we have what amounts to another accusation of betrayal and, interestingly enough, the Board of Trustees gets lumped in for what I recall as the first time. Though I doubt they really care. The only way I can imagine the BOT even raising an eyebrow is if contributions to the university are drastically reduced.

Bishop Aquila closes with the question that we've been pondering here since this whole story came out:

I know that many wonderful Catholic students, faculty and administrators at Notre Dame support the clear teaching of Jesus Christ and His Church. Unfortunately, your action and that of your Board diminishes the reputation of Notre Dame and makes one wonder what its mission truly is.


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