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Obama to Speak at Notre Dame

March 20, 2009
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To the perpetually offended: grow up already.  Really.

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120 Comments
  1. March 20, 2009 9:46 pm

    Now that is a well-reasoned position.

  2. March 20, 2009 11:50 pm

    President Obama will join the ranks of five other sitting presidents — Eisenhower, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II — who delivered the commencement address at Notre Dame University.

    Senator John F. Kennedy gave the winter commencement at Notre Dame in 1950. Subsequently, he became the only President awarded the Laetare Medal, Notre Dame’s highest honor given for outstanding service to the Roman Catholic Church and society. Other recipients of this award include Dave Brubeck, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Dorothy Day, Claire Boothe Luce, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Martin Sheen, who received the award in 2008.

  3. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    March 21, 2009 12:20 am

    “At the age of 15 one would come into the Church with possibly many expectations of perfection and little real knowledge of human nature, and from 15 to 18 is an age at which one is very sensitive to the sins of others, as I know from recollections of myself. At that age you don’t look for what [goodness] is hidden. It is a sign of maturity not to be scandalized and to try to find explanations in charity.”

    Flannery O’Connor, A Letter from The Complete Works

    Is my hunch correct that you are alluding to this quote? I have always liked this quotation from O’Connor, and I agree with her that there can be something childish about the constantly scandalized. A cursory glance at the New Testament is sufficient to establish that the deeply sinful have always been with us (and, lets be honest, often are us). Manifest sin can be found even in the heart of the Church. That said, I can sympathize with those who have had to face the mystery of iniquity in holy places and Christian people who they deeply trusted- after such a shock people can develop a kind of allergy whereby even things which ought not to scandalize, or things of which they should assume the best in charity, cause them to break out in a rash. Among these are many who care deeply about the unborn and who have been dismayed by Catholic institutions giving honors to those who have committed themselves to working against the Pro-Life cause. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with inviting the president to speak at Notre Dame, so long as the Church’s prophetic voice isn’t muffled and as long as the wrong signals are not given (i.e., it should be clear to all involved that Notre Dame doesn’t support President Obama’s pro-choice stance). In fact, it could be a significant opportunity to present our case and engage in constructive dialogue. That said, I suspect many will take offense. But before we take offense to their taking offense, perhaps we should, in charity, consider what some people have endured in their struggle for the unborn.

  4. Liz permalink
    March 21, 2009 3:55 am

    “I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with inviting the president to speak at Notre Dame, so long as the Church’s prophetic voice isn’t muffled and as long as the wrong signals are not given (i.e., it should be clear to all involved that Notre Dame doesn’t support President Obama’s pro-choice stance). In fact, it could be a significant opportunity to present our case and engage in constructive dialogue.”

    It is a good thing to invite him, to challenge him. The problem is we catholics aren’t able to trust our own clergy / bishops to speak the truth of the Magesterium.

  5. March 21, 2009 10:01 am

    Well at least it si not Joe Biden that in my view would be more of a Scandal

  6. March 21, 2009 12:09 pm

    Somehow I think that if Notre Dame (or Ave Maria, or any other Catholic institution) had picked George W. Bush instead, the reaction here would hardly be “Grow up.”

    The double standards are absurd.

  7. March 21, 2009 12:43 pm

    Michael Denton

    Er, did you see Gerald’s comment above?

  8. David Nickol permalink
    March 21, 2009 12:49 pm

    This is just shocking. I believe I read somewhere that the Hunchback is so appalled at the invitation, he is looking for another bell tower to live in.

    Meanwhile, Dreams of My Father and The Audacity of Hope are being placed on the newly revived Index Librorum Prohibitorum, whereas Decision Points: My 12 Most Difficult Decisions and Who Made Them for Me will be the first presidential memoir to be published with both a Nihil Obstat and an Imprimatur.

  9. David Nickol permalink
    March 21, 2009 12:57 pm

    Er, did you see Gerald’s comment above?

    Henry,

    I am sure Michael Denton would make the point that when George W. Bush made the commencement address at Notre Dame in May 2001, it was before he started two wars, subverted the Constitution, authorized torture, and destroyed the economy.

  10. March 21, 2009 2:14 pm

    Henry Karlson,

    Er, I was addressing MZ’s post. Gerald didn’t tell people to grow up.

    I’m not sure inviting Bush II was a great idea either. Sure, 2001 was a better time that after 9/11 for a Catholic university, but I’m still not sure it was a fantastic idea.

    I just think that if we would criticize Notre Dame for violating its identity by inviting Bush, which I’m confident MZ and others would do if Notre Dame did, then we should be equally criticial when inviting someone like Obama.

    Even if you like Obama and think he was better than McCain, that doesn’t mean he should be honored by a Catholic university. I think people here who like Obama and his promises of social policy get lost in that and aren’t recognizing his faults. Perhaps his faults are outweighed by his virtues in a voting scenario, but in honoring a man a far higher standard is required, one that at this time neither Bush II nor Obama meet.

    • March 21, 2009 2:43 pm

      Michael

      If the standing President of the United States gets invited to a university, I don’t see any problem with it; such an action doesn’t have give any indication of agreement with Obama’s policies. Indeed, as Gerald pointed out, and many others have pointed out throughout the net, Notre Dame does make a point to invite the Presidents. It’s an honor to a university, within the United States, to get its leader there. St Thomas More, we know, more than welcomed Henry VIII, even after all the controversy surrounding Henry brought things to a boiling point. I can’t speak for others, but something tells me, no one would have any concern, and you are assuming something for a political point, instead of understanding the nature of the university itself.

  11. March 21, 2009 3:39 pm

    “such an action doesn’t have give any indication of agreement with Obama’s policies”

    Bull.

    The flaw in your argument is that you are trying to understand the nature of a university. That is applicable but only in part. The question here is the nature of a Catholic university, which has more stringent requirements then secular universities. Giving an honor to a devoted opponent of so many of the Church’s policies impedes the ability of the university to promote the truth of the Catholic Church, so that whatever honor it is to the university is far outweighed by the damage to its core mission.

    Notre Dame’s frequent invitation of Presidents is irrelevant; if the practice as a whole impedes the university’s ability to communicate truth, then the practice as a whole ought to be abandoned.

  12. March 21, 2009 3:53 pm

    It doesn’t impede the ability to communicate the truth. It does allow for the university to dialogue and be heard without retreating from the world in a quietist fashion.

  13. JohnMcG permalink
    March 21, 2009 4:03 pm

    I agreee that focussing on things like this is conuterproductive.

    Nevertheless, I find this, “Take that, pro-lifers!!” attitude from a Catholic blog extremely troublesome. People have good reason to question the prudence of Catholic institutions inviting pro-choice politicians like the president.

    Perhaps discourse would be better served by presenting an argument for why this is in Notre Dame and Catholicism’s best interst than a “grow up, already” taunt.

    Do you really think anyone inclined to get upset about this is going to read this post and think, “Gee, I never considered the possibility that my reaction might be less than mature. I’m going to change my ways.”

    The “perpetually offended” may be immature, but no less mature than those who waste time and energy tweaking them.

  14. March 21, 2009 4:36 pm

    Frankly, I’m not sure why being “perpetually offended” is a childish reaction at all. It strikes me as perfectly reasonable. I myself am an ND alum and while I wouldn’t say I’m perpetually offended, I am disappointed. As Br. Matthew has suggested, it can certainly be frustrating for Catholics committed to protecting the rights of the unborn for a prominent Catholic university to honor a figure who, despite his other possibly prudential political judgments, has been very publicly committed to opposing the pro-life cause, and is plainly monstrous on these issues. I agree with JohnMcG that it is entirely reasonable to question the prudence of a Catholic university, with a Catholic educational mission, in making this move. In fact, I find it far more worrisome NOT to call the prudence of this move into question.

    I would love it if this were an opportunity for challenge and dialogue and all that. But lets not kid ourselves: a commencement speech and the presentation of an honorary law degree is not going to be the platform for discussing how wrong Obama is on life issues and how much he needs to heed the Catholic prophetic witness. If you assume that off the bat, I think you’ve fooled yourself into acting like there can be no scandal here. I hope I’m proven wrong, but something tells me Notre Dame is not thinking in terms of its mission concerning abortion when it secures the most pro-choice political figure for its commencement speech. It simply doesn’t seem to be on the table. Again, I hope I’m wrong.

    If in the 19th century the Catholic Church was the only outspoken voice against slavery, and a well-known Catholic institution invited a politician (even a president) who was the greatest opponent of the abolition movement and the most adamant defender of the right to enslaving African Americans, would we really tell those who saw this as remotely scandalous to “grow up?”

    Pax Christi,

  15. March 21, 2009 4:58 pm

    If you object to this, then I hope you objected to Reagan, Big Bush, and Little Bush going there under similar circumstances.

  16. March 21, 2009 5:21 pm

    Actually I protested Bush II when he visited post-2001, and that was for non-commencement or honors type things. But Minion, since I imagine you wouldn’t favor the visits of those three, wouldn’t you have problems with Obama visiting for similar (though distinct) reasons? Even if you judged he was the better man than McCain?

    Pax Christi,

  17. Kurt permalink
    March 21, 2009 5:25 pm

    If in the 19th century the Catholic Church was the only outspoken voice against slavery, and a well-known Catholic institution invited a politician (even a president) who was the greatest opponent of the abolition movement…

    Given at the time there were slaves “owned” by Catholic universities, I would suggest just freeing thier slaves and not worry about keeping President Washington, Jackson, Polk, etc. off campus.

    The Vatican is courting Obama for a visit this summer. If the Holy See can invite him, ND can.

  18. David Nickol permalink
    March 21, 2009 5:44 pm

    If in the 19th century the Catholic Church was the only outspoken voice against slavery . . . .

    Says who?

  19. March 21, 2009 6:07 pm

    That’s a hypothetical “if”: imagine that the Catholic Church had been the only outspoken voice against slavery (as today it and other Christian denominations are for abortion)…

    Kurt: I think you’ve missed the point of the analogy, and the history you cite doesn’t address it. And is the Vatican honoring Obama? I imagine the Holy Father will make a point to stress the abortion issue, as he did with Pelosi (though as she is a Catholic the tone will likely be a bit different). I don’t know though.

    Pax Christi,

  20. M.Z. permalink
    March 21, 2009 6:07 pm

    For the record:

    I have a history of over 5 years on the Internet. If I were to take offense at such things, one would think I’d have ample opportunity to do so. President Bush only spoke at 6 to 2 dozen colleges during that time. The presumption of partisanship speaks to an immaturity and flippancy of the person presenting th argument.

    I made no mention of “pro-lifers” in the post. Yes, many of the perpetually offended are in that camp. They are also the same folks that would be evaluating the abortion implications of whether or not Obama leaves the toliet seat up. It gets old.

    Br. Augustine:
    Regrettably I’m not familiar with O’Connor’s writing. Her sentiments however parallel my own. If I personalized every mistake or even disagreement (like say communion without altar rails) I would have left the church. (Keep in mind, the parishes near me are still heavily influenced by the administrations of Bishop Weakland and prior to that Bishop Cousins.) I can indeed sympathize with those frustrated by Notre Dame’s decision, but I don’t believe the decision should rank very highly for those concerned with Obama’s abortion policies or those concerned with Notre Dame’s catholicity.

  21. March 21, 2009 7:14 pm

    It is amusing to watch the apologists ignore Obama’s positions and the open religious hostility of his base.

    1. His militant abortion record is horrific
    2. His rhetoric on the “Goodness of Science”, as if Science should not be subject to ethical and moral constraints by non-scientists. (This is a gigantic topic)
    3. His base are the emboldened Bill Maher/John Stewart-watching militant religion-hating secularists. He is the messiah of “Government as God” whether he knows it or not…and I think he does know it.

    These three positions alone should be enough for Notre Dame to pull the plug. They won’t of course, not until we pull the plug on them, and we will…brick by brick. Its happening..good bye entrenched dying liberal theologians, clergy and administrators. Your important base is a bunch of Ipod 24×7 no-care in the world for religion self-absorbed 20-something moral-relativists. They will simply leave because they don’t care, plus their Marixist-Statists. Secularism is their religion, plus American Idol is on or something like that.

    Your existing power base you cling too is an aging group of baby-boomers, who are beginning to die and retire. Neuhaus Law…

    Good Luck

  22. Kurt permalink
    March 21, 2009 7:46 pm

    Yes, a big hypothetical.

    I fear by raising such a hypothetical, in which the Catholic Church in fact fell so short of the standards you suggest, some readers may think less of the Church’s actions.

    As a faithful Catholic, I feel compelled to defend her. The Church rightly has stood against re-opening settled social issues, as slavery would be today. But what has her record been on matters during the time they were of social controversy and debate? I would propose that while imperfect, she has been an effective and admirable force on many great social issues even though she has not acted in the way suggested in your hypothetical. For example, during the last century, in rapid succession, she involved herself in support of the rights of workers to organize (1930s), opposition to Communist influence in various social organs* (1940s) and the rights of African Americans (1950s).

    Her voice was clear on the principles involved (as it is unquestionably the case today on abortion). However, individuals opposed to public policies designed to protect workers right to organize, fight Communism or advance civil rights were not denied the sacraments, banned from Catholic facilities or otherwise personally denigrated the way often suggested by some conservative Catholics towards those with mixed or pro-choice public policy positions.

    Invoking a settled social issue (i.e. slavery) can bring a certain emotional reaction, but the Church’s own consistent history when dealing with issues while they are matters of social contention, I think shows what a variance (rightly or wrongly) some of the current rhetoric is with the Church’s practice.

    (*) a matter I am prepared to defend the Church on, if some of my left of center friends take issue.

  23. March 21, 2009 8:11 pm

    X-Cathedra,

    I don’t really care, to be honest. Then again, I think Anscombe was right to protest Oxford’s giving an honorary doctorate to Harry Truman on the grounds that he was a war criminal. Bush II, by his breaches of the Geneva conventions, might meet that standard though.

  24. March 21, 2009 8:50 pm

    Immature and perpetually offended? I’m reminded of the long-ago days when I was getting my own degrees from ND and getting my jollies by writing diatribes on matters Catholic in the Observer. I’d take the latest harangue from NCR or NPR, whichever was nastier toward the Church at the moment, and give it a South Bend twist so I could skewer not just the pope but the campus patriarchy as well.

    I suspect Peggy Steinfels over at Commonweal got a similar thrill when she declared that the “Amy Welborn” types who oppose honoring Obama at ND are trying to turn our Church into a backwoods sect. Evidently it is also regarded as a mark of maturity here at Vox Nova to take offense at fellow Catholics unsophisticated enough to defend Church teachings that can’t pass muster on NCR and NPR.

  25. George Crosley permalink
    March 21, 2009 9:14 pm

    Really grown up commentary yourself, M.Z. I can tell you put a lot of thought into your reaction to this with your one liner.

    What offends you more, the slaughter of innocent unborn children or the possible obsession, as you might see it, about that slaughter?

  26. George Crosley permalink
    March 21, 2009 9:21 pm

    Just in case you forgot, M.Z., here are some pictures of abortions. Some people are actually offended by this stuff. But I guess when a country like Germany could exterminate a continent of Jews only 65 years ago, it shouldn’t surprise me at all the people would be so nonchalant about the extermination of the unborn today.

    Why don’t you “grow up” over your disgust at the pro-life movement? Really.

  27. Kurt permalink
    March 21, 2009 9:27 pm

    What offends you more, the slaughter of innocent unborn children or the possible obsession…

    The slaughter of the innocents of course. Its time squishy pro-lifers stop mollycoddling the murdering women who abort by declaring them to be “co-victims” of the act. Let’s start hurling at them the same terms we have been reserving for public officials. Then maybe the little murderesses would get an understanding of what the Catholic Church thinks of them.

  28. March 21, 2009 9:49 pm

    Anyone not offended to read thoughtful presentations of Catholic thinking on the President’s honorary degree from ND would do well to visit Mirror of Justice, which is rapidly becoming what Vox Nova once promised to be.

  29. M.Z. permalink
    March 21, 2009 10:00 pm

    Perhaps you can go to the trouble of offering a “thoughtful presentation”. Why would I waste my time making an argument to people uninterested in arguments? Life is too short. “Presentations” would be inappropriate as a description of the two posts at MOJ. One is an announcement, and the other makes the argument that commencement speakers and honorary degrees are ultra important. Wow. It goes on to gratuitously assert “The decision creates confusion about Church teaching.” I swear people don’t know what substance means anymore.

  30. M.Z. permalink
    March 21, 2009 10:02 pm

    Tell you what George. I will wear a pin tomorrow showing my support for the unborn. Will that establish my pro-life bonafides for you?

  31. JohnMcG permalink
    March 21, 2009 10:34 pm

    What were you hoping to accomplish with this post?

    How does this align with the stated mission of this blog?

  32. March 21, 2009 10:59 pm

    His base are the emboldened Bill Maher/John Stewart-watching militant religion-hating secularists. He is the messiah of “Government as God” whether he knows it or not…and I think he does know it.

    Man, straw, etc.

  33. Harry permalink
    March 21, 2009 11:55 pm

    Why not, Catholics seem to pick and choose what their Church teaches. Why not have a Catholic university have some one who believes that abortion is alright.

  34. Mike J. permalink
    March 21, 2009 11:59 pm

    M.Z., I think you are too quick to dismiss Richard Myer’s comment regarding the importance of a degree. If an academic institution is giving a doctorate out to every Tom, Dick or Harry that shows up, one might as well go to a print shop and make their own credentials from it. Myers is an alumnus of N.D. and understands the level of rigor that went into his law degree. I would be interested to know what the reasoning behind bestowing such a distinction on Pres. Obama actually is before assessing how it impacts the image of the university.
    Regards,
    Mike J.

  35. March 22, 2009 3:28 am

    Kurt: Point taken. Know that my analogy was only designed to evoke an emotional response from a similar scenario in which Catholics would not sensibly disagree anymore. I have in the past focused on something like the Holocaust, but I try to avoid that if possible because, whether I like it or not, it tends to distract and distance interlocutors. But I concede your point. My intent, however, was only to construct a hypothetical in which it would be plain that Catholic frustration would not be unreasonable at all.

    Minion: I not only agree with Anscombe (something I’m always proud to do) but I also agree with you on Bush II. My only problem is that applying the critical eye to them, and simply “not caring” when it happens to be Obama in the hot seat, strikes my conscience as too inconsistent.

    That seems to be the overall vibe I’m getting from contributors here: that this simply isn’t worth caring about and to do so is to betray one’s obsessive conservative bias. Personally I speak only as one who recently graduated from this university and am myself invested in its identity and its mission as a Catholic university. I think that gives me cause enough to care and to treat this as a matter worthy of serious attention. But I don’t in my bones for a second think that if this were a post on Bush speaking at Notre Dame, all of a sudden we’d see the contributors acting as if this is “no big deal.”

    I reiterate John’s question to M.Z.: what were you hoping to accomplish with this post? It seems to matter enough to post on, doesn’t it? I think even Minion’s own (correct) reasoning demands that we attend to this seriously.

    Pax Christi,

  36. March 22, 2009 5:42 am

    X-Cathedra

    Would you not agree that one of the “causes of scandal” that the Pharisees had with Jesus is that he not only hung out with sinners, but gave them honors (Levi, a tax collector, turned Apostle?!). That to me is one of the problems I have with a quick reaction to criticize a Catholic institution when it brings in the leader of its nation to speak. Despite the rhetoric (not yours, but others on the net, which I think MZ is frustrated with), President Obama’s decisions have not made him the most “anti-life” “anti-Catholic” President of all time. I myself think sometimes we as Catholics tend to try to separate ourselves from the world too much, when the world does not go our way; but that is very un-incarnational.

    Now, I would agree with the fact that MZ might not have made his peace the best way he could, and one could say that his own comments are on an equal, and opposite, level of those who just had a Pavlovian-like reaction against anything to do with Obama. I understand the frustration, but my own reaction would have been more Balthasarian: we should learn how to become like children, not grow up. And that spirit, the simplicity of childhood, I think could be seen in some quotes from St John Climacus, whose feast is today in the East. I would recommend my post to anyone, which, while I wrote it before some of the conflicts which came out this week, I think is very apropros (for all of us!).

  37. Rick Garnett permalink
    March 22, 2009 9:33 am

    I agree with those who have said that VN readers should (also) be reading Mirror of Justice. =-)

    The Obama thing is disappointing. Still, I choose to focus today on the wonderful news that Mary Ann Glendon will also be speaking, as this year’s Laetare winner.

  38. March 22, 2009 11:50 am

    Matt Talbot Says:
    March 21, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    His base are the emboldened Bill Maher/John Stewart-watching militant religion-hating secularists. He is the messiah of “Government as God” whether he knows it or not…and I think he does know it.

    Man, straw, etc.

    This my opinion and its well reasoned. It is not a straw man because it is offered forth as an opinion based on evidence. Try reading “America’s Secular Challenge: The Rise of a New National Religion by Herbert London. In the meantime have fun defending the church against the sexual deviates who want to use government enshrine sexual rights into law and turn marriage into a discriminatory institution because it is only defined as male and female. Thus turning the state against the “Bigoted” Church. Keep on apologizing..I would rather we just take you and dump you in the moat.

  39. Kurt permalink
    March 22, 2009 1:33 pm

    X-Cathedra,

    I am glad we are moving towards some common understanding.

    For what it is worth, I can tell you I would have have defended the appropriatness of having Republican Presidents give commencement addresses at Catholic universities.

    For me, it is not as you suggest others might think, a minor matter simply not worth caring about. It is a matter where the opponets of ND’s invitation hold a false proposition — that inviting the President to give the commencement address is to endorse his policies on the legal status of abortion. I simply reject that proposition, as I think most reasonable people would.

  40. March 22, 2009 3:16 pm

    What were you hoping to accomplish with this post?

    Perhaps I can explain the meaning of the post.

    If you are bothered by a guilty conscience, one way to distract yourself from it is to mount a public attack: in this case to attack people who are “perpetually offended” – Heavens, that sounds downright antisocial, doesn’t it? – by mass murder and its enablers and apologists.

  41. M.Z. permalink
    March 22, 2009 6:33 pm

    No one was – and hopefully no one will be – harmed by Notre Dame issuing the invitation or Obama accepting it. Thinking otherwise is an exercise in delusion, no matter how noble one thinks their delusion is.

  42. March 22, 2009 7:38 pm

    M.Z. Says:
    March 22, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    “No one was – and hopefully no one will be – harmed by Notre Dame issuing the invitation or Obama accepting it. Thinking otherwise is an exercise in delusion, no matter how noble one thinks their delusion is.”

    Scandal is a “Delusion”? Discrediting oneself by not standing up for principles is a “Delusion”?

    And its a “Delusion” why? Because YOU said so? You even seem to imply you know the motivation of the apparent “Delusionites”. I would like to hear this explanation.

    Please go on we wait with brisk anticipation

  43. March 22, 2009 8:19 pm

    MZ do you really think it’s that absurd to think that there is some possibility of scandal?

  44. March 22, 2009 8:31 pm

    “No one was – and hopefully no one will be – harmed by Notre Dame issuing the invitation or Obama accepting it. Thinking otherwise is an exercise in delusion, no matter how noble one thinks their delusion is.”

    MZ, very well put.

    Al, why don’t you put your burners on simmer. For heavens sake, when one believes there is a scandal where none exists — that, my friend, is delusional.

    Let’s see now, if I recall correctly, the Seven Deadly Sins are: Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Gluttony, Avarice, and Lust. After reading your post, it appeared to me you’ve hit three or four of the real top notch “hot button” issues!!! Maybe that’s where you should direct some of your attention.

    Like I said, put the burner on simmer. You’ll find that tomorrow will be just the same as today except that you’ll feel better.

  45. March 22, 2009 8:40 pm

    The USSCB says:

    The Catholic community and 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.

    • March 23, 2009 2:52 am

      Zach

      President Obama being given an award does not “suggest support for” Obama’s pro-choice beliefs, but is being given to him because he is President of the United States. Now if the reason why he was President was univocal, you might have a point. But it isn’t. Most people who voted for him did not do so because of his abortion beliefs. So he is President for other reasons than abortion. Therefore, giving him an award for being President, the President in a nation where the university is at, is not giving any suggestion that it is being done in support for abortion.

      I wonder how many people who are upset now agree with criticism of Pope Pius XII given by many for his concordat with Hitler?

  46. Kurt permalink
    March 22, 2009 8:54 pm

    …by mass murder and its enablers and apologists.

    I’m begining to understand Zippy’s point.

    Conservative Catholics don’t want their principles compromised by associating with ‘mass murderers and their enablers’ (i.e. those who don’t believe abortion should be criminalized). Let’s respect their conscience. Since they wouldn’t want to appear to condone murder by working cooperatively with those who are pro-murder, let’s just shred their job applications if they mistakenly apply for a position in a workplace that includes employees who are pro-murder. They wouldn’t want their children exposed to pro-murderers, so let’s start excluding their children from play dates and social activities and birthday parties if one or more of the parents is pro-murder. Let’s just assume they want no social interaction at any level with people who are pro-choice and let’s make sure their principles are not compromised by making any attempt to include them in any forum that includes those who are pro-choice, or with people who have civil relations with pro-choice individuals.

  47. March 22, 2009 9:15 pm

    Kurt, you’re on to something here.

    Ironically, I have many young friends whose mothers were, and always have been, pro-choice! Come to think of it, my mother would probably have been pro-choice too because she didn’t want the government mucking around in her life.
    What does that say about the pro-choice position?

    To read the rants and raves of some is simply hilarious. Logically, as I said in the above paragraph, their position isn’t held together by logic.

  48. JohnMcG permalink
    March 22, 2009 9:17 pm

    Who started this thread?

    Hint: Not people ranting and raving about the speaking engagement.

  49. March 22, 2009 10:09 pm

    my mother would probably have been pro-choice too because she didn’t want the government mucking around in her life.

    My understanding was that there were two lives involved in abortion; thus, the idea of abortion regulation is to protect the life of the fetus. Does VN have contributors who think otherwise?

  50. March 22, 2009 10:17 pm

    John:
    It is an interesting experience to make a throwaway psychological conjecture in a blog combox and then see two commenters immediately leap to confirm it, at least with respect to themselves.

    MZ:
    As you know, we have a long history of blog interaction and although we often disagree I do respect your opinions and your integrity. I’d have more respect here if you conceded a degree of scandal and harm, accepted that it is in fact quite reasonable for many people to find mass murder and its enablers offensive, and argued that as a prudential matter the scandal is balanced out by other considerations in this particular case.

    But since you publicly supported Obama you’ve become quite frankly much more of a hack, not to put too fine a point on it. I would expect and hope that my erstwhile Catholic combox allies against the Bush torture and unjust war regimes would show a measure of objectivity when it comes to the Obamessiah. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions that does not appear to be the case.

    And that, in my view, provides at least anecdotal confirmation of what I contended during the presidential campaign, to much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of McCain supporters: that publicly throwing one’s support behind a candidate and voting for that candidate has a not insignificant effect on the person who does it; an effect which far outweighs any actual material effect he has on the outcome of the election. And when that candidate supports a legal regime of actively pursuing the mass murder of the innocent, as was the case with both McCain and Obama, that outcome independent effect is almost entirely negative.

    As far as I can tell, Gerald Campell and this guy Kurt were mindless material supporters of abortion and partisan leftist hacks before the election. I wouldn’t have said that about you, MZ, but you are certainly earning the title now. Be careful, is my genuine advice to you at this point, for what it is worth.

  51. grega permalink
    March 23, 2009 12:57 am

    “My mother would probably have been pro-choice too because she didn’t want the government mucking around in her life.”
    My mother was never pro choice – foremost because of the catholic churches rather crystal clear position.My youngest brother is very very grateful for that fact since he likely would not have seen the “light of day”
    if left to medical opinion and cold percentages alone. Yes indeed my mother almost died giving birth to him- it was iffy for a WEEK.

    It was very good that my mother and father were in full control of the situation – they decided according to what their religion taught them – as it should be for those of us who are religious- however
    society and government in this case are correct IMHO to allow citizens to make that very tough personal call.
    Yes – The majority of us citizens in the free west
    finds plenty of ethical reasons to allow for termination of pregnancy for medical reasons and because of rape and incest.

    Just look at the case of the 8 year old brazilian girl, combine this with some basic knowledge who media works and most reasonable people understand perfectly well why Abortion for medical reasons (my mothers situation)and for Rape/Incest reasons are here to stay.

  52. March 23, 2009 1:41 am

    John Henry,

    The point of my comment is simple: there are countless pro-choice individuals who PROTECT and PROMOTE the life of the unborn in the same manner as those who are pro-life. Being pro-choice cannot be logically identified with being pro-abortion, despite all the high strung rhetoric to the contrary. Individuals are pro-choice for many reasons, and not all of them relate directly to the unborn.

    The young friends I mentioned above are a living testament to this truth. I’m sure that you also know young boys and girls whose mothers are pro-choice. Not unlike mothers everywhere, they are often forced to choose between bringing life into the world or terminating it. Yet, when the time came to make THEIR decision, they chose to bring a child into the world in a loving way. These women whom we personally know represent the millions of others whose lives demonstrate that being pro-choice can easily be akin to being pro-life.

    I would even hazard the guess that more children are born from pro-choice mothers than are born from pro-life mothers. I may be wrong on the statistics here (I’m only speaking of numbers), but were that the case my point would nonetheless remain sound. To be pro-choice is not the same as being pro-abortion. Indeed, for most women — whether they are pro-choice or pro-life — the decisions they make are usually made in favor of the sanctity of life.

    The upshot of this is that reverence for life has its defenders in both pro-life and pro-choice circles. Being pro-life is determined not so much by one’s allegiance to a political camp but by the concrete decisions a mother makes during the course of her pregnancy.

    Yet, far too much rhetoric infects and corrupts the ongoing debate over abortion. Language tends to be over-heated. Charges are leveled that are not true. Personal motives are ascribed to others with the intent to defame their integrity. In the defense of truth, no side occupies the high moral ground.

    As for Notre Dame, it has reasons for highlighting Obama’s contribution to the cause of justice in America. Its reasoning will be made public on graduation day. But already, one thing is certain: the promotion of scandal is not one of those reasons.

    I recall when Notre Dame awarded Senator Moynihan the Laetare Medal. They did so over the strong objections of Boston’s Cardinal Law and New York’s Cardinal O’Connor. Both men raged against Moynihan’s public record on abortion. But, to its credit, Notre Dame read the tea leaves differently. Their intent was to pay tribute in a solemn setting to Moynihan’s work on behalf of forging a better America. Even as they did, the predicted clouds of scandal refused to form.

  53. March 23, 2009 6:08 am

    I wonder how many people who are upset now agree with criticism of Pope Pius XII given by many for his concordat with Hitler?

    Are you serious, Henry? You really think there is anything remotely comparable here? My answer: I don’t think ND, a Catholic institution should be honoring Obama, president or not. However, if ND were to negotiate an agreement with Obama that would secure the right of Catholic physicians to as matter of conscience not perform any immoral procedures or have to refer patients to others who will. And that Catholic schools are given free reign over their curriculum and admissions and that educational vouchers are established. That the state won’t interfere with or try to regulate the rightful options and duties of the Catholic Church, etc. Then I could see the comparison, and far from criticizing ND, I would call it a great move (even though I don’t think that it’s the rightful place of a university).

  54. March 23, 2009 6:33 am

    Rick

    I am indeed serious. The thing is, this isn’t on the level of working with Hitler for anything. That’s the point. The people who make Obama “the next, worst thing since Hitler” forget the Church did make a deal with Hitler, and the Pope was involved. The Church has a history of making deals; the interaction itself allows for the Church to have a voice. The way some people want to treat President Obama would only serve to make him more rigid and unwilling to listen.

    I can only imagine how some people would be treating those who worked in Nero’s household.

  55. March 23, 2009 6:39 am

    Oh, and to the concordat, remember, that the Church GOT SOMETHING OUT OF IT has been one of the reasons why people criticize the move! I am not one who does, and I defend the Pope, then and now; but the point is that I do not see consistency with some people, and how they will treat Pius XII one way (and defend his actions), while they will go out of their way to smear anyone who works with Obama (even if they might also think that working with him is a way to help encourage him to move in the right direction). It’s how the real world works.

  56. TimF permalink
    March 23, 2009 7:13 am

    My daughter made her confirmation yesterday. It was a beautiful day in many, many ways, including the gorgeous spring weather. The Archbishop gave a wonderful homily. 25 young people received the Holy Spirit. How disappointing to come to this blog this morning and read this. It’s like walking into a public restroom that hasn’t been cleaned all day. Thank’s MZ for stinking it up real good. You should look into other ways of observing Lent. For you and the rest of the perpetually offended at the “perpetually offended”, your guy won. He is doing what he promised to do. Why do you feel the need to gloat and rub it in?

    I would add, God bless Brother Matthew Augustine. He is always a breath of fresh air when he comments on this blog.

  57. March 23, 2009 7:41 am

    Being pro-life is determined not so much by one’s allegiance to a political camp but by the concrete decisions a mother makes during the course of her pregnancy.

    Being pro-life means being against any legal “right” to commit murder under the positive law. Choosing not to commit murder doesn’t make a person pro-life, at all, even slightly. Faithful Catholics are doctrinally required under grave obligation, not merely to refrain from committing murder, but to oppose the legalization of murder.

    Evangelium Vitae:
    Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection.

  58. March 23, 2009 7:44 am

    Indeed, Br. Matthew is always something of a light in the darkness.

    Gerald: I still find your reasoning to be dangerous. While I can agree that there is a distinction, it surely can be only nominal at best. To put it plainly, I still have a huge problem with the pro-choice mother who chooses life. The reason is because if she is in fact pro-choice, then she acknowledges the primacy of choice OVER the sanctity of life, even if she happens to side with life personally. For a person who always chooses to adopt toddlers, but thinks that the government has no business “meddling” in the affairs of another person who decides to stab their toddlers in the head, is morally deranged and has a monstrous error in judgment. If you refer to individuals who always side with the sanctity of life because for them the child’s right to life always trumps reproductive choice (making it meaningless as me being “free” to “choose” to murder or not murder), then I would say you are equivocating, and they are simply not pro-choice in the same sense we mean. But if they side with life while still defending the right of others to choose to kill their children, the right of others not to side with life, and believe the government has no right to “meddle” in defending that innocent life, well then pardon me for not applauding. Praising the fact that more children are born to pro-choice women is like praising the fact that more Jews are not killed by Nazi sympathizers than anti-Nazis.

    Henry: While I think I see your point, I’m not sure how the Hitler analogy works. It seems to me that you would have yourself an analogy if Hitler were only gassing Jews systematically and despite Church outcry, Pius XII just up and decided to award Hitler with a Papal honor; perhaps invite him to speak at the next Papal gathering. And precisely NOT about how he should or shouldn’t be gassing Jews.

    If Notre Dame were inviting Obama to a conference entitled: “Abortion Policy and the Sanctity of Life” or “Dialogue for a Culture of Life” or something like that, with the specific purpose to open channels of communication and criticism on abortion; this would be a different story.

    But that is precisely what the university is not doing. What they are doing is publicly honoring the most powerful and most public opponent of the anti-abortion cause in the United States. Despite what good he may do, I fail to see why this is not the least be scandalous? It’s not about “working with” or ostracizing pro-choice individuals; its about precisely NOT entering into fruitful dialogue and challenging discourse, and publicly affirming them instead. That, to me, is quite the definition of scandal. Maybe not for those far removed from the context; but certainly for one a) involved in the pro-life cause and b) having a history with the university and its mission.

    I’m not saying this is the end times, or the greatest travesty the Church has seen. All I’m saying is that it is entirely reasonable to see scandal in this; and to dismiss it as if you must be insane to see such scandal strikes me as being dangerously swayed by an all too partisan mind. To those folk I say: seek the balance.

    Pax Christi,

  59. March 23, 2009 7:45 am

    What Zippy said…

    Pax Christi,

  60. March 23, 2009 8:30 am

    The point of my comment is simple: there are countless pro-choice individuals who PROTECT and PROMOTE the life of the unborn in the same manner as those who are pro-life.

    That’s just silly. Pro-choice individuals, by definition, do not seek to use legal means to protect or promote unborn life. Thus, they do not seek, in the same manner to protect the unborn, and many do not do so in any manner.

    Being pro-choice cannot be logically identified with being pro-abortion,

    Agreed; they frequently overlap but are not identical.

    These women whom we personally know represent the millions of others whose lives demonstrate that being pro-choice can easily be akin to being pro-life.

    Not really. Being pro-choice means you oppose regulations on abortion. Just because you don’t have an abortion in a given circumstance, doesn’t mean you aren’t pro-choice.

    Being pro-life is determined not so much by one’s allegiance to a political camp but by the concrete decisions a mother makes during the course of her pregnancy.

    There appears to be some linguistical confusion here. In the United States, the terms ‘pro-choice’ and ‘pro-life’ have very specific meanings. ‘Pro-choice’ means that you oppose legal restrictions on abortion. ‘Pro-life’ means you support such restrictions. A person who is pro-choice, but has their baby is acting perfectly consistently as a pro-choicer. Barack Obama is no less a pro-choicer because he has children. To argue otherwise is silly.

  61. March 23, 2009 8:33 am

    Gerard,

    I guess my question is: Do you support additional legal restrictions on abortion?

  62. March 23, 2009 8:34 am

    In the defense of truth, no side occupies the high moral ground.

    What a curious statement that is. One wonders just what it is supposed to mean: does it mean that there is no truth and therefore no moral high ground to occupy in general, or does it mean that particular persons don’t happen in fact to occupy it?

    If the former then it is obviously false. If the latter then it isn’t a particularly interesting thing to say, since presumably we all ought to be seeking the moral high ground, that is, we all ought to be seeking the truth.

    My guess is that it isn’t really either of those though: that it is empty rhetoric employed in an attempt to avoid and obfuscate the fact, and its further implications, that it is objectively true that we all have a grave obligation to oppose a legal ‘right’ to abortion: that those who oppose a legal right to abortion are in the right on the particular point, and those who favor a legal right to abortion are in the wrong on the particular point. And clearly so, as Evangelium Vitae reminds us.

  63. JohnMcG permalink
    March 23, 2009 8:45 am

    There were many prisoners that the Bush government did not torture, and countries he did not invade.

    Does this make him anti-torture or anti-war?

  64. Kurt permalink
    March 23, 2009 9:04 am

    Gerald,

    If you mother was pro-choice then to honor her by sending flowers on her birthday or a card on Mother’s Day is formal, material cooperation in abortion. You are honoring a person who is pro-murder. You can’t be Catholic and have anything to do with such a “mother.” I’m sorry to have to inform you of this.

    On the up side, this really saves in gift giving expenses.

  65. JohnMcG permalink
    March 23, 2009 9:18 am

    Kurt,

    I am going to assume you are arguing in good faith, so I am going to attempt to address what you have presented.

    First, I don’t think anyone here has asserted that the Obama invite is formal, material cooperation with abortion. In fact, your post was the first one to use the word “formal” in this thread. So, you are off base there.

    What is being asserted is that the invite is at least material cooperation with President Obama’s efforts to present his agenda as perfectly compatible with Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular. This is something that Catholics should not due without a proportional reason, which is a matter of prudence. I think it is far from settled that such a proportional reason exists in this case. I would submit that honoring one’s mother is a proportional reason.

    Each of us only has one mother, but there is no shortage of perfectly acceptable candidates to give the commencement address at UND. Choosing President Obama in an intentional move to either honor his record, or at a minimum, discount its importance. Sending one’s own mother flowers is not.

    President Obama is eligible for this honor because of his work in politics, which includes his record on abortion. One’s mother’s eligibility for Mother’s Day honors has nothing to do with her work in the political sphere, but her status and work as a mother. The Fourth Commandment demands this.

    Again, I think this invitation is a matter of prudence, and I am not 100% certain I know the right answer. But it is certainly a legitimate subject for debate, and those who question its prudence deserve better answers than, “grow up” or this absurd mother parallel.

  66. M.Z. permalink
    March 23, 2009 9:24 am

    But it is certainly a legitmate subject for debate, and those that question its prudence deserve better answers than, “grow up” or this absurd mother parallel.

    Certainly. “Those Perpetually Offended” and those that disagree with the decision only coexist in so much as the former is a subset of the latter.

  67. Kurt permalink
    March 23, 2009 11:41 am

    John –

    I think you are showing some squishiness on your pro-life creds by trying to apologize for pro-murder “mothers”. We have one President and one mother but plenty of people we can honor by sending cards and flowers to. If one’s mother is pro-choice, that is part of her record in motherhood as much as it part of Obama’s record as Head of State of our country.

    I would urge you to take your Catholic faith more seriously.

    By calling this a matter of prudence, you are then leaving the decision in the hands of the entity that has would have the right to make the prudential judgement — the jurdicial person of the University. This is just another attempt the undercut the authority of those bishops with extra-diocesan rights on these questions, namely Chaput, Burke and Martino.

  68. JohnMcG permalink
    March 23, 2009 11:56 am

    Kurt,

    OK, you have demonstrated that you are more intersted in being cute than actually addressing the arguments.

    To summarize, Mother’s Day flowers are an inapt parallel to the Obama invitation because:

    * The Fourth Commandment imperative to honor one’s mother representes a proportional reason to send flowers; there is no proprortional reason for the Obama invite that weighs as heavily.

    * We each have only one mother; there are many candidates of give the UND commencement address.

    * Obama’s invite is based on his political accomplishments, which include his abortion record. This is not the case for the mother who receives cards and flowers on Mother’s Day.

    If you feel I am mistaken on any of the above points, or believe that they fail to demonstrate why these situations are not analagous, please let me know why.

    Or you can continue you mocking act, and I will bow out.

  69. ari permalink
    March 23, 2009 12:03 pm

    Henry Karlson,

    Don’t you dare attempt to justify any such scandalous acts by invoking St. Thomas More’s name.

    You know full well that his actions concerning the King were not at all what you claim them to be but rather, more specifically, were ardent attempts at getting an old friend to repent and change his ways by appealing to his good side.

    A more apt analogy as regarding this immediate matter would be inviting the heretic Luther himself to an audience at Catholic England, which you know full well that More himself would be remarkably opposed.

    Of course, perhaps More, and others who fervently strive for the Faith as he, are but delusional hacks who have yet to grow up.

  70. March 23, 2009 12:03 pm

    “Those Perpetually Offended” and those that disagree with the decision only coexist in so much as the former is a subset of the latter.

    If you aren’t careful you might start giving the impression that you are perpetually offended by pro-lifers. And you wouldn’t want that, because being perpetually offended is just about the worst thing someone can be; ever so much worse than being a material supporter of mass murder and associated scandal.

  71. M.Z. permalink
    March 23, 2009 12:27 pm

    I like how people self-segregate, as if it must be them I’m referencing. Just to keep it interesting, the preceding doesn’t mean I’m not referring to such people either.

    Perpetually offended is indeed not a virtue. Offense generally is an infantile response. It is the response of people not willing to take responsibility for their own actions. The big difference between you and me Zippy is that I recognize my part in the destructive policies of this country. You on the other hand seem to think you are divorced from it all, that it’s the fault of all those people that aren’t real® conservatives. You fail to recognize that you are a part of the abortion culture. Everyone in this country is.

  72. Kurt permalink
    March 23, 2009 12:29 pm

    John,

    It would be for the person (juridical or natural) making the invitation to define what it is based on.

    I agree moderation is needed. For example, it is not clear that, when driving on the highway, Catholics risk matieral cooperation with mass murder if they allow a car with an “Obama-Biden” bumper sticker to merge into their lane, though it would be material cooperation with abortion if you allowed a car with a NARAL bumper sticker to merge. Even then, a one finger wave is not absolutely required.

  73. S.B. permalink
    March 23, 2009 12:38 pm

    MZ has a cheap and relativist out there. “We’re all part of the abortion culture, so there’s no difference between voting for abortion-promoting politicians and not voting for such politicians.”

  74. March 23, 2009 1:26 pm

    Gerald L. Campbell Says:
    March 22, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Like I said, put the burner on simmer. You’ll find that tomorrow will be just the same as today except that you’ll feel better.

    Gerald, you can use debate tactics all you want. You and MZ have NOT explained why it is NOT a scandal. What you do, is just state your hypothesis and then you do not back it up with the required work to proove said hypothesis.

    Furthermore, you don’t like the tone of my rhetoric because it pains your “Fine Sensibilities” does it? It doesn’t meet the rigorous flowery rhetoric apparently required on this site? To direct..is it?

    Here’s the deal…I’m frankly really tired of apologist leftist sophists in the church…me and a of others are finally tired of this pseudo-intellectual/theological-bullyism. And I swear to you, I will meet your rhetoric anywhere, anytime, amongst all the divergence tactics, the sneering and scorning that you and others practice so eloquently as the expense of any actually point being made.

    So here it is…Make no mistake I intend to see you and the others who have damaged the church all these years out…to actually be booted out. Your rhetoric, your compromises, your nuances have done nothing but cover, duck, hide, and stab at the church and at Orthodox principles. I would daresay that you and others who are part of the church, this includes clergy, are now responsible for the absolute moral mess we are in as a society…therefore its time to pick the cancer the clean from the host.

    You point out I’m a sinner? I have never claimed to be anything other. Have you?

  75. Mark DeFrancisis permalink
    March 23, 2009 1:27 pm

    I better take the Obama bumper stickers off my car, having had her extrapolated for me certain offended ones’ untraditional interpretations of material and formal cooperation.

    I have already reconsidered my nephew’s (whose mother is pro-choice)upcoming graduation present.

  76. March 23, 2009 1:30 pm

    Pardon my spelling and grammatical errors. I’m doing this in between running a software company, recovering from surgery, preparing to celebrate my wife’s birthday, helping to fight a flood, and while trying to temper the anger through the will and governed by the mind… x Time Management = You get the point

  77. jonathanjones02 permalink
    March 23, 2009 1:36 pm

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTBlNmY2NzM4ODdkNDY0NzRjMzA3OTZlYjg5YzcwYjU=

    Rick Garnett and others weigh in here.

  78. M.Z. permalink
    March 23, 2009 1:39 pm

    Rick Garnett’s piece is good.

  79. JohnMcG permalink
    March 23, 2009 1:54 pm

    Agree that Garnett’s piece is good, and that, unfortunately, the initial post here would be an apt rejoinder to many of the other pieces.

    What I think set Garnett’s apart was that he argued for why Notre Dame needs to be counter cultural. Obama’s positions on abortion are bad from a Catholic perspective, but not very far outside the mainstream of public opinion. So, all the comparisons to segregation and outrage are not going to resonate to an unsympathetic public.

    What I think Garnett demonstrated is that even if you disagree with it, it is important that the Catholic perspective have a strong representation, and that UND represents the best hope for that representation, and they have damaged their ability to fulfill that.

  80. March 23, 2009 2:03 pm

    M.Z.: I’m really failing to see how the dots are connected. I’d happily focus on how infantile it is to take offense; but frankly I think we should worry about the cooperation in unimaginably grave evil that’s causing the offense, don’t you? How on earth is seeing scandal in this a reflection of my inability to take responsibility for my part in the culture of death? Just think of how dangerous such wide-brushed lingo is: if we do take seriously our part in abortion-culture, are we then to find that we “generally” won’t take offense at things like this? And are we then to just silence all criticism because there is a plank in our collective eye? Really? I doubt you’d want to say that. But please, connect the dots. I’d really love for my vision to be corrected.

    Your words about the generality of taking offense are simply empty: how helpful or accurate is it to point out that people who take offense mostly shouldn’t? You haven’t even come close to showing why its childish to take offense at something like this, or how our personal involvement in a culture of death translates into acting like this is no big deal. All I see is a page of numbered dots and an overall lack of charity on all sides…

    Were Hitler to receive an honor from a prominent Catholic school, would it be “generally” childish to take offense at something like that?

    Pax Christi,

  81. March 23, 2009 2:21 pm

    Wait a minute, NRO hosts a symposium about what is effectively an intra-Catholic debate? Isn’t it a scandal for these prominent Catholics to use this venue in such a manner? After all, this is a pro-torture pro-war publication. Doesn’t anybody see the irony in all of this?

  82. Kurt permalink
    March 23, 2009 2:22 pm

    Were Hilter? Do you mean WHEN Hilter was honored by the Abbey and School of Maria Laach? In hindsight, not one of conservative Catholicism better moments.

    Yes, worry about the grave evil (abortion). Inviting the Head of State to address the University is not a grave evil and is not a public statement in support of abortion.

  83. Kurt permalink
    March 23, 2009 2:36 pm

    President Obama has zealously moved in his first weeks in office to carry out the most radical anti-life, un-Christian agenda of any American president. Among other actions antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic Church, he has increased federal funding for abortions across the world.

    I think there are great opportunities to move forward in the effort to protect life, if we could just argue policy proposal as policy proposals and not alienate millions by calling them “teachings of the Catholic Church.”

    Last Sunday after Mass, shoved into my face was a petition to support vouchers for Catholic schools. Clipboard in one hand and waving my pen above it without immediately signing, I received firm assurance that there is no “teaching of the Catholic Church” that all money is fungible and we are asking the government to subsidize our religion.

    I guess it is possible the Catholic schoolparent speaking to me was just a lying whore trying to get my signature.

  84. March 23, 2009 2:39 pm

    Kurt:

    Again, I think you’re missing the point of the analogy. You have only reinforced my point: by agreeing that that wasn’t conservative Catholicisms better moments, you suggest its quite reasonable to consider that honoring scandalous.

    So to follow your reasoning: yes, worry about the grave evil (gassing Jews). Inviting a Head of State (Hitler) to address the University is not a grave evil and is not a public support of gassing Jews.

    ……so we would in fact be quite over the line to think of that Hitler incident as scandalous? Which is it?

    The scandalous nature of it does not depend upon the invitation being a public statement of support; no more so than would the scandalous nature of the Hitler incident reside in whether or not that honoring was a public endorsement of the Holocaust.

    Pax Christi,

  85. ari permalink
    March 23, 2009 2:42 pm

    You can’t make the same comparison with Hitler since the event seems more likely before the time these folks actually knew about the real Hitler, as we now know him (i.e., unlike Obama, whom we already know full well concerning his Pro-Abortionist views which even goes to the extent of even infanticide).

    In fact, even Winston Churchill, who soon became a heroic figure as fierce archenemy to the man himself, initially recited glowing remarks about Hitler before he became the notorious villian that history now knows him.

  86. Greg permalink
    March 23, 2009 2:45 pm

    Henry Karlson,

    Would you have been offended if Notre Dame had invited Bishop Williamson to give the commencement address?

  87. Kurt permalink
    March 23, 2009 2:53 pm

    X-C,

    I didn’t call it a scandal. I said in hindsight, it was not one of conservative Catholicism’s better moments. Abbot Herwegen thought it was a scandal that liberal Catholics joined in an anti-Hitler coalition with the pro-abortion SPD. It seems today’s conservative Catholics might still agree with the Abbot; I don’t know.

    Maybe the only possible non-scandalous person to invite is the woman UND is named for.

  88. March 23, 2009 4:05 pm

    Al,

    Your best bet is to stick with software.

  89. March 23, 2009 4:19 pm

    Kurt,

    Sorry for misrepresenting that. But I have to ask: what is the meaningful difference in your mind between “not one of conservative Catholic’s better moments” (which sounds like quite an understatement) and “scandal?” Aside from what you said, would you view the Hitler incident you mentioned as scandalous? If not, what would constitute scandal for you?

    It seems like we can judge these types of things to be scandalous or not with a little common sense and a little application of judgment. But whether you yourself see scandal here, would you acknowledge that it is reasonable to see this as a scandal? So far I haven’t found what anyone has said to the contrary convincing, or even coming close to a sound argument for why such an opinion is childish.

    I can certainly agree that there is nothing scandalous about your nomination for commencement speaker.

    Pax Christi,

  90. grega permalink
    March 23, 2009 4:30 pm

    Kurt,

    I am not aware that Maria Laach honored Hitler in some official form – the Abbey of Maria Laach is well known in Germany for helping Konrad Adenauer escape the Gestapo. It is a beautiful place – you should visit if you ever have the chance.
    That is not to say that some of the more conservative German catholics lined up rather nicely with many aspects of the Nazi ideology.

    But hey nothing new under the sun just read how easy the ‘Murder of Children’ drops out of quite a few respectable folks mouth along with the fact that a healthy percentage of Americans finds the death penalty very justified -don’t you sometimes wonder how such respectable folks would connect their dots if the government of their ‘dreams’ would ever manage to come to power around here?
    We certainly should never forget that a prominent facet of antisemitism was spawned by the idea that ‘Jews’ killed the son of god.
    Not surprisingly quite a bit of that resurfaced recently in the Williamson/ SSPX affair.

    Why is one not surprised –
    “Abbot Herwegen thought it was a scandal that liberal Catholics joined in an anti-Hitler coalition with the pro-abortion SPD. It seems today’s conservative Catholics might still agree with the Abbot; I don’t know.”
    I think we do know – some things never change as sad as this is.
    The only saving grace is that Americans have proven to withstand the lure of extremism from left and right.

  91. March 23, 2009 5:00 pm

    One of the things that ticks me off about the “debate” about abortion is that conservatives make no attempt to understand, or assume good will on the part of, the folks on the pro-choice side, which is the critical first step to changing liberals’ minds. Saying liberals want to turn us all into hairy-legged atheist baby-killing communist lesbians (or something: I paraphrase…) would seem not to be the best way to start a productive conversation. But that’s just me.

    The truth is, I think abortion is often used by conservatives as a blunt instrument used to (unsuccessfully) shut down pro-choice liberals who want discuss the morality of the Iraq war, torture or any of the other abominations of the Bush Administration: “How can you be serious about [insert liberal issue] when you support the slaughter of the unborn?”

    This is a non-sequiter: having one immoral position does not render all your other positions suspect. Since these things usually end up with Hitler comparisons: the fact that Hitler was a vegetarian (or for that matter, that he opposed abortion) has no bearing on the moral merits of vegetarianism.

    It’s really a version of the what the anti-war Left college students did almost half a century ago during the Vietnam War – somehow the conversation always came around to the Vietnam war, and how bad it was.

    You will convince more liberals to rethink abortion-on-demand (and on this I speak from experience) if you show some willingness to understand their world-view, and explain opposition to abortion using frames of reference and premises they can relate to.

    One of these days I’m going to post a detailed liberal argument against abortion-on-demand (it will be the arguments that I’ve found to be effective with my liberal friends). Maybe some conservatives here can use the points I make as a template for convincing liberals.

  92. Kurt permalink
    March 23, 2009 5:08 pm

    X-C,

    You keep dropping my words “in hindsight” when you quote me.

    Grega hits the nail right on the head in his last sentence. Our country HAS proven itself to withstand the lure of extremism from the left and right, a virtue found when there is a commitment to parliamentary democracy. Abbot Herwegan was not, as far as I know, a particular anti-Semite nor soft on genocide. While he only hid Adenauer out of personal friendship (they were from the same hometown), his enthusiasm for Hitler did begin to cool as soon as Hitler began establishing a police state. By 1941, the Abbot had turned anti-Nazi.

    But during the 1930′s, next to von Papen, Herwegan was Hitler’s leading Catholic cheerleader and honored him at the abbey. Following him were the other Catholic right wingers resentful of the Weimer Republic and longing for the restoration of the Kaiserreich. Progressive Catholics (the Zentrum and the Catholic trade unions) made an alliance with the liberal Democrats and the pro-abortion SPD around the first principle of parliamentary democracy. The Communists on the left and the Nazis and the Abbot on the right opposed them.

    I’ll take elections even with the chance they lead to pro-choice policies over a “pro-life” dictatorship without an iota of reservation. I will deal respectfully with my fellow citizens as we all work through an open, democratic process to advance our beliefs even when I have the most serious disagreements with them. And I respect the President of the United States, our Head of State, and deeply regret some statements made by political opponents of the current President and inappropriate remarks by opponents of the immediate past president. Because to lose respect for our fellow citizens and our legitimate leaders are the first steps on the path to totalitarianism.

    And if my country, and its republican form of government was threatened by a dictatorial insurgency (as was sadly the case by forces including even my own Church against the Spanish Republic at one time), I would defend the republic of which I am a citizen of, against her enemies — lay or clerical — and by the means required — non-violently or with arms.

  93. ari permalink
    March 23, 2009 5:33 pm

    “Because to lose respect for our fellow citizens and our legitimate leaders are the first steps on the path to totalitarianism.”

    And people wonder why the English clergy surrendered themselves and the once Catholic church of England to King Henry VIII, signing on to the Act of Supremacy.

    Interesting to note that in that particular case, it only fueled totalitarianism rather than prevent it, as can be seen in events that followed such as seizure of Catholic properties and the subsequent persecution of a Catholic people, culminating in the the gruesome, horrible deaths of hundreds of innocent Catholics at Tyburn!

    “I would defend the republic of which I am a citizen of, against her enemies — lay or clerical — and by the means required — non-violently or with arms.”

    Indeed.

    Wales is often the better choice for the worldly.

    The Church and what she has to offer is comparably of lesser worth, if anything.

  94. March 23, 2009 5:48 pm

    John Henry, (X-Cathedra),

    “That’s just silly. Pro-choice individuals, by definition, do not seek to use legal means to protect or promote unborn life.”

    John Henry, you are correct. Pro-choice individuals do not generally seek to use legal means to protect the unborn. But they take this stand for good reasons. Many, for instance, are leery of enlisting the law in areas where there is no national consensus. They are keenly aware of the dialectical tension between an authoritarian impulse and the exigencies of freedom. That is a reasonable concern, given the lessons of history.

    But there is also the question of utility. The legal means that have come to define the pro-life movement are, to my way of thinking, ill-conceived and ineffective stratagems. They have no lasting value. Already, much of the regimen set in place by Bush has been overthrown or is currently on borrowed time. Even amendments to the Constitution have been reversed when they ceased to have the support of a national consensus.

    So let me ask: what kind of strategic thinking does the legal approach of the pro-life movement represent? Is it: here today, gone tomorrow? No thanks.

    Without being disrespectful, I would dismiss the pro-life leadership and defund their organizations until such time as they come up with a convincing strategy. I seek a strategy that promises: 1) to make a difference; and 2) whose gains are sustainable over time. For the past 30 years, such a strategy has been non-existent. It’s time for a change. It’s time for bold new leadership and thinking across the board.

    Of course, it may be your preference to continue the current course. I can honor that decision. My choice is to seek more effective ways to: 1) change the culture; and 2) reduce the incidence of abortion.

    Finally, you asked: “I guess my question is: Do you support additional legal restrictions on abortion?”

    My answer at this time is simple: not within the current strategic context. My view is that we need to put more effort into changing hearts and minds and reducing the incidence of abortion. Already we have laws in the U.S. that protect persons. The problem is that there is no consensus about whether the unborn are persons.

    Given this predicament, is it prudent to use the law as an authoritarian substitute for what amounts to a lack of consensus on what constitutes a person? Would that reduce the law to an instrument of coercion? My view is that it would.

  95. David Nickol permalink
    March 23, 2009 5:55 pm

    a healthy percentage of Americans finds the death penalty very justified

    The Catholic Church wholeheartedly supported the death penalty until John Paul II came along. I never heard a word against capital punishment in all my Catholic education during the 1950s and early 1960s. I don’t see how capital punishment came to be “almost never necessary” in 1995 when it had been supported by the Catholic Church up until then. I guess this is an instance of “a Church that can and cannot change.”

  96. March 23, 2009 6:24 pm

    David Nickol,

    Along the same lines as capital punishment, did you hear the drum beat about “intrinsic evils” during those years? Since when does the mere mention of “intrinsic evil” obviate the need for prudential judgments? The phrase “intrinsic evil” seems to be used primarily as a “discussion stopper.”

    Another point. Weren’t you made aware of the distinction between the methodology of metaphysics and that of ethics/politics? The purpose of metaphysics is “to know” truth. The purpose of ethics/politics is “to act” according to right reason. This distinction is blurred today. While Metaphysics is necessarily abstract, it seems that Ethics/Politics has become abstract as well. The fundamental distinction between the two disciplines seems lost today and it is apparent in the comment boxes.

    It seems that ethical principles are but templates to be imposed upon human behavior. What a monstrous position! It is dangerous in the extreme.

  97. March 23, 2009 6:43 pm

    Offense generally is an infantile response.

    I suppose that depends on what you mean by “taking offense” at evil. What you seem to mean by it, though not univocally, is opposing evil, including the evil of scandal; but you are being equivocal enough that it isn’t clear that you mean anything definite by your own one-liner tantrum of a post.

    You fail to recognize that you are a part of the abortion culture. Everyone in this country is.

    Whatever that is supposed to mean, it does not exculpate people – you, for instance – for their particular acts, nor does it make formally supporting rabidly pro-abortion politicians, and materially (formally in Gerald’s and Kurt’s case) supporting the abortion ‘rights’ legal regime, the moral equivalent of opposing them.

    I view these little Vox Tantrums as protestations in the face of the fact that you guys are, you know, in the wrong to be doing what you are doing. Even if you disagree, attempting to paint it as “everyone is equally tainted” is more than a little pathetic. I’m mildly curious as to just when you and Gerald had yourselves castrated, such that you are reduced to “everyone is equally tainted” types of so-called “arguments”. For Pete’s sake, if you are going to materially support evil at least have the courage of your convictions: grasp desperately for the banner of claiming that you are, you know, actually in the right as opposed to all these pathetic peons to anti-truth. In short, grow a pair.

  98. grega permalink
    March 23, 2009 6:57 pm

    “I don’t see how capital punishment came to be “almost never necessary” in 1995 when it had been supported by the Catholic Church up until then. I guess this is an instance of “a Church that can and cannot change.”
    I think David you are onto something.
    Some other ‘set in stone’ issues that come to mind :
    married priests and female ordination
    Being against it until one is are for it -a very human quality -a not particular charming but very common way to delay the unpreventable.

  99. David Nickol permalink
    March 23, 2009 6:58 pm

    Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before. — Mae West

    Now she had balls!

  100. March 23, 2009 7:10 pm

    I’m intrigued by Matt Talbot’s suggestion that pro-choicers would adopt a (more) pro-life viewpoint if only they were approached respectfully and with recognition of their own moral perspective. I believe that was the argument on which the Common Ground initiative was based, and it is certainly familiar to those of us who still see merit in the Seamless Garment perspective. But I am really not convinced that it is the way supporters of abortion rights are led to rethink their position.

    What actually did change a significant number of minds in recent American history was the partial-birth abortion campaign, which used in-your-face graphics and sometimes strident rhetoric to shift the focus of discussion about abortion from individual autonomy (i.e., “choice”) to protection of the innocent.

    In my own case, what convinced me to think again about abortion was hearing from people (women, mainly) whose experience with abortion confirmed the wisdom of the Catholic position. The testimony of such people is seldom admitted into discussions of the issue from an abortion-rights perspective because its most ardent partisans are often motivated by a desire to justify decisions they themselves have made.

  101. Kurt permalink
    March 23, 2009 7:24 pm

    ari,

    your response employs the false assumption that Tudor England was a parlimentary democracy.

    As for St. Thomas, he maintained respect for his King even when on the gallows (“the King’s good servant…”).

  102. March 23, 2009 7:28 pm

    Finally, you asked: “I guess my question is: Do you support additional legal restrictions on abortion?” My answer at this time is simple: not within the current strategic context.

    This, as I am sure you are aware is the pro-choice position.

    My view is that we need to put more effort into changing hearts and minds and reducing the incidence of abortion.

    Legal and rare, then (and, presumably, safe).

    Already we have laws in the U.S. that protect persons. The problem is that there is no consensus about whether the unborn are persons.

    I agree that this is a serious problem, although I think pursuing legal restrictions is a good idea for two reasons. The first is that I see no reasons why a tie should be resolved against the interests of the fetus. The second is that law has a pedagogical function; it helps shape the consensus.

    Given this predicament, is it prudent to use the law as an authoritarian substitute for what amounts to a lack of consensus on what constitutes a person? Would that reduce the law to an instrument of coercion? My view is that it would.

    Law is always an instrument of coercion, and the current abortion regime is quite coercive if one grants the personhood of the fetus.

  103. ari permalink
    March 23, 2009 8:12 pm

    Kurt,

    You seem to have overlooked the very fact that instead of submitting to the demands of his king (and to the world, for that matter) and take the side of the State of which he was a part thereof, More stood on the side of the Church even to the end.

    Quite frankly, given the tenor of the subject comments made by your person, it seems you would be the kind who, instead of being amongst those Catholics at York in the Pilgrimage of Grace, would more likely be amongst the very ones putting his fellow Catholics to death (not much of a stretch given Obama’s pro-abort policies which he intends to extend globally) all for the sake of the very State you wish to defend, no matter how evil the laws or its very leader.

  104. Kurt permalink
    March 23, 2009 9:08 pm

    Ari,

    As expressed in my earlier post, my committment to parlimentary democracy is significant and central to my views and actions. Therefore, if anything I have said leads you to assume anything about my possible actions in an undemocratic society, then I wonder if you simply view democracy as something insignificant and even dispensible with if it gets in the way of what you find to be a greater goal. I assure you that is not my thinking.

    I reject your suggestion that the United States of America and its President are evil. But I am not surprised by it.

  105. March 23, 2009 11:45 pm

    Partisanship is one hell of a drug. Makes you see all kinds of crazy things.

    Pax Christi,

  106. Kurt permalink
    March 24, 2009 7:41 am

    X-C,

    You are 100% on target there.

  107. ari permalink
    March 24, 2009 12:17 pm

    My comments did not state anything about the United States or the President being evil (although I do believe that he does stand for certain things that in fact are — but, of course, given your superb character, you undoubtedly think otherwise) — that was but a malicious stunt on your part at essentially forcing words into my mouth.

    The comments, more specifically, were concerning yourself.

    For myself, I take the view of More who himself said that “if any statute offends the laws of God, it is insufficient and cannot be imposed upon any Christian subject.”

    What’s more, I take the view that “For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?” (Mt 16:26)

    You seem wont to sell your soul even if the republic would happen to be evil, as made very clear in your previous statement.

    Unlike you and your friend “X-C”, I am not partisan, in fact, I am neither Republican nor Democrat but, more importantly above all, a Christian gentleman beholden first and foremost, like More, to God and not man.

    The precepts of God hold a higher place for me.

    Unfortunately, you and your friend believe otherwise.

  108. Kurt permalink
    March 24, 2009 2:17 pm

    Ari, I think Bolt would find your views more Roper than More:

    “Arrest him!” “For what?” asked England’s Lord High Chancellor, Sir Thomas More. “He’s dangerous!” said More’s wife. William Roper, Thomas More’s son-in-law chimed in, “For all we know he’s a spy!” to which his daughter added, “Father, that man’s bad!” Sir Thomas replied, “There’s no law against that!”
    “There is God’s law!” countered the impetuous Roper.

    “Then let God arrest him!”

    More’s wife saw the critical opportunity fading, “While you talk he’s gone!”
    More looked at his distraught wife. “And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law! This was too much for the son-in-law, who mounted a second challenge: “So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!”

    “Yes!” asserted Sir Thomas. “What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”
    “Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!”

    “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down (and you’re just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

  109. ari permalink
    March 24, 2009 4:25 pm

    Kurt,

    Your understanding is evidently based on a misunderstanding (and, sorry to say, dear friend, a twisted one at that).

    Consult herewith the Yale collection and you shall find that it was More himself who believed thus (as had been previously cited):

    “If any [Parliamentary] statute offends the Laws of God, it is insufficient and cannot be imposed upon any Christian subject.”

    Indeed, it is for this very reason that he could not swear onto the Act no matter the cost even if it meant the lost of his own life.

    As even the momentous dialogue between he and Rich itself evinced, More had himself put the case thus that no more can Parliament declare God not God than it can make the King the Supreme Head of the Church.

    As regarding the immediate matter that lies before us, no more can Obama declare the outright murder of Innocent Children the Supreme Right of the American people than he can make Moloch True God above all.

  110. Kurt permalink
    March 24, 2009 8:06 pm

    No disagreement. The Republican dominated Supreme Court can rule in Roe what it wills, but it does not change God’s law. Catholics would be well advised to stop mollycoddling these little murderesses who abort by calling them “co-victims” of abortion and start calling them the murderesses of innoncents that I’m sure you know they are.

  111. March 24, 2009 10:57 pm

    I guess the Bishop of South Bend, the diocese where Notre Dame is located, is also “perpetually offended”.

  112. grega permalink
    March 24, 2009 11:48 pm

    I think a brisk ‘God’s Law’ does not get us very far really in todays world. Let’s be honest – the majority of humans pay lipservice at best to that somewhat passive notion. Today we very much are emphasizing free discovery and a shifting moral code based less on preconceived scriptural advice and more on societal osmosis.
    I think a good number of fine religious folks do not fully grasp how powerful and persuasive the success of the very open minded scientific methodology is in comparison to the typical far more rigid religious framework.

    For better or worse the notion to actively participate in this world and to mitigate natures forces has penetrated most every aspect of our societal fabric.

    Yes the church keeps bringing up ‘gods law’ or ‘natural law’ and assumes that will do the trick – a clear majority however does not follow this really.

    We want to understand and control something as basic as our reproductive capacity and are very much willing to bend morals according to our desires.

    I have not much hope that the gap between those that call something ‘Murder’ and those that call it ‘Choice’ will get closer anytime soon.

    By the way Kurt thank you for the inspiration to look a bit closer into Maria Laach’s Reichstheology. I grew up very close and have many great memories of the place.
    I found this book in the context potentially interesting and plan to read it.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=FewzTELynqUC&pg=PA511&lpg=PA511&dq=Maria+lAACH+nAZI&source=bl&ots=_cdowjMc3h&sig=Nh4HWYAf7syQ1WHSZZs3UJnWXMw&hl=en&ei=3KPJSd73D5nvnQfzxPmPAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result#PPA511,M1

  113. March 25, 2009 1:36 am

    Ari:

    What are you talking about? Did you read the comments? About the only thing Kurt and I have agreed on is that partisanship is a blinding influence. How in your wildest dreams does that qualify me as partisan? You must be confused.

    I recall why I can’t stand the comboxes here: they without doubt boil down into uncharitable dens of petty, partisan orthodoxy debates; guided only by vices designed to make real discussion about the real common good utterly fruitless.

    Maybe that’s just me. I have yet to be proven wrong.

    Pax Christi,

  114. M.Z. permalink
    March 25, 2009 7:59 am

    Zippy,

    You would suppose incorrectly, but I think you already knew that.

  115. Kurt permalink
    March 25, 2009 9:03 am

    Grega,

    I had dismissed that book but yes, now think it merits a read.

    But let me be clear. I’m not trying to defame Maria Laach. I have long wanted to visit myself (having already been to Solesmes). The book makes the interesting observation that the early Liturgical Movement (of which I deeply revere) can be linked to ideals of fascism. How tragic it would have been if the Liturgical Movement had been shut down for this reason.

    On matters of discernment, the best results come about when a certain degree of pluralism is allowed. Those who want this highly regimented Catholic political machine propose something I find frightening even with the admirable opposition to abortion it would possess.

  116. ari permalink
    March 25, 2009 4:02 pm

    Stricken. I’m tired of folks saying this what M.Z. meant when I have specifically repudiated it. Michael Denton seems to enjoy that garbage. Go to his house and play.

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