Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Quick Overview of Recent Bishop Statements on Obama/ND

I'll be honest, baseball and t-ball have severely limited my posting time, so here's my effort to catch up.

Bishop Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph

But as I speak a word of encouragement today I also want to tell you soberly, dear friends, “We are at war!”

As we all know the eminent American Catholic University, Notre Dame, is poised to bestow such an opportunity and honor on President Obama, who is, of course, not Catholic. But it doesn’t take another Bishops’ Conference statement to know this is wrong: scandalous, discouraging and confusing to many Catholics.

God knows what all motivates such a decision. I suspect that, since Notre Dame will need a scapegoat for this debacle, and Fr. Jenkins will probably lose his job, at this point perhaps he ought to determine to lose it for doing something right instead of something wrong. He ought to disinvite the President, who I believe would graciously accept the decision. Notre Dame, instead, ought to give the honorary degree to Bishop John D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who has supported and tried to guide the University, despite their too frequent waywardness, faithfully for 25 years.

Bishop Latino of Jackson, MS

Latino, who gave the Daily Journal a preview of the letter, said he feels the university has sacrificed the church’s teaching concerning the sacredness of life for the distinction of having the nation’s first African-American president speak at its commencement.

Bishop Blair of Toledo

In an effort to end the murder of unborn children by abortion, the United States Bishops have called for more effective dialogue and engagement with all public officials. This remains our priority at every level. However, it is not appropriate for Catholic institutions to give awards, honors or platforms to those who promote an abortion agenda. Doing so suggests that Catholics are not really serious about what the Church teaches regarding grave and immoral offenses against the life of the unborn.

President Obama is our elected President, and we should give him all the honor and respect due to his office. We should also pray for him, especially for a change of mind and heart on his part, away from abortion to protection of unborn human life. An invitation to speak and an honorary doctorate from a Catholic University go beyond the bounds of respect, and can only be a source of dismay.

Bishop Gettelfinger of Evansville, IN

By their actions, President John Jenkins and the Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame are by affinity also pandering to the pro-choice movement, and in doing so, they are betraying their faithful alumni and supporters of this once great university.

The irony of it all is that the university, by the vote of its trustees, will confer on President Obama an Honorary Degree of Law. Clearly that degree will not include the moral law. If so, then the honor is shallow — indeed empty — as God is the source from which all law is derived. God is truth. God is the author and guardian of all human life. God does not allow for selective obedience. Do Father Jenkins and the Board of Trustees by their decision see any disconnect of themselves from the Infinite Truth?

Bishop Lucas of Springfield, IL

But many have told me how disturbed they are at the confusion caused by a Catholic university honoring a man who as an Illinois state senator and now as president has promoted an active role for government in the destruction of innocent human life and blocked reasonable qualifications on the practice of abortion.

I am disturbed, too, at this decision by Notre Dame to sow confusion where there is clarity in Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life and the evil of abortion. For some this may be one political issue among many. For Catholics it is a matter of worshiping God by the proclamation of the truth. Many students and faculty at Notre Dame know this. The university’s administration thinks it knows better. It is hard to imagine the university honoring someone, no matter his office, who had consistently spoken against the value of football. We are not being unreasonable when we expect the value of human life to be a central focus of a Catholic university.

Archbishop Pilarczyk of Cincinnatti

Pilarczyk and others say it's inappropriate for the school to give Obama an honorary degree and to allow him to deliver the commencement address because his stance on abortion conflicts with the church's position.

“No one who has been a supporter of the anti-life mentality should be given honors or a forum,” archbishop spokesman Dan Andriacco said.

Bishop LeVoir of New Ulm, MN

Since President Obama has taken stands that contradict the fundamental moral principles of the Catholic Church, e.g., the approval of abortion and embryonic stem cell research, he “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for his actions” at a Catholic university. The decision of the University of Notre Dame makes it much more difficult for the Church to carry out her vital mission to transform our culture into a culture of life and love.

Bishop Galeone of St. Augustine, FL

In Bishop Galeone's brief letter to Fr. Jenkins, dated March 21, he stated: "I find it impossible to comprehend how a prestigious Catholic University like Notre Dame would bestow such an honor on President Obama, given his unmitigated support for policies and laws that flagrantly contradict fundamental Catholic teaching on life and marriage."

"Coupled with the performance of the quasi pornographic play, 'The Vagina Monologues,' which continues to appear annually on the Notre Dame campus, this most recent decision raises serious doubts about Fr. Jenkins' qualifications for continuing to serve as president of one of the foremost Catholic universities in the nation," Bishop Galeone concluded.

Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh

Notre Dame — Our Lady — is a title and devotion that every Catholic holds close to heart. Which is why it is so painful that the current leadership of the university has been so sadly forgetful of its responsibility to its sacred name, and to all the faithful, by deciding to give an honorary degree to our president, who has made so clear his opposition to the church’s teaching on the sacredness of human life. It must leave Our Lady — “Notre Dame” — embarrassed.

This is not a matter of the proper respect due our president, or even inviting him to speak on campus, or one of political motivation or a denial of free speech. The issue is not as clear as it must be. To give an honorary degree, to confer such an honor, makes the statement that the recipient of the honor reflects the mind and the heart of the giver. That certainly can’t be true in this instance! This is Our Lady’s university choosing to give an honorary degree to the single most outspoken pro-abortion president since the issue was foisted upon the country by the Supreme Court. It must, indeed, embarrass Our Lady.

Bishop Loverde of Arlington, VA

“While he has been in office only a few short months, President Obama’s actions with respect to life issues already have been a source of grave concern to Catholics,” Bishop Loverde wrote. “You can read my statements on these issues, including the lifting of the Mexico City policy, funding for embryonic stem cell research and the proposed removal of conscience protections for health care workers, at I share [in the] dismay that Notre Dame, contrary to the direction provided by the bishops, has chosen to extend to him an invitation, which — despite the University’s statements to the contrary — undoubtedly will be viewed by many as approbation of his policies.”

On a side note, the PR person for Cardinal George has issued a clarification of his own comments. It is a sign of the Church's current problems that people are trying to spin this as His Eminence saying this whole thing is ok.

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