Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 25, 2009
Bishops blast Notre Dame's honour for Obama
NANCY FRAZIER O’BRIEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON — The commencement addresses by Holy Cross Father John Jenkins and U.S. President Barack Obama at the University of Notre Dame May 17 have drawn strong comments from U.S. bishops.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver said the introduction of Obama by Jenkins, university president, did “a real disservice to the Church.”
In a May 18 statement, Chaput said that Catholics “insist — by their words, actions and financial support — that institutions claiming to be ‘Catholic’ actually live the faith with courage and consistency.”
“There was no excuse — none, except intellectual vanity — for the university to persist in its course,” Chaput said. “And Father Jenkins compounded a bad original decision with evasive and disingenuous explanations to subsequently justify it.”
Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., said in a May 18 interview, that although Jenkins warned against a tendency to “demonize each other,” he himself used “a whole series of very, very hard words” and spoke “in a very negative way about anyone who appears to be contrary to the decision” to invite Obama.
“We’re fighting for the right to exercise a rightly formed conscientious difference with public policy,” he said.
“We shouldn’t underestimate the danger of dragging our feet in this effort. If we are not ready to make a frontal attack on the protection of conscience rights, the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the primacy of authentic marriage, we will lose in these areas.
“If we sit back and allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of peace and cooperation in regards to these things, then we lose these battles and, later, wonder why.”
Finn noted that at one point in his talk Obama called the views of supporters and opponents of abortion “irreconcilable.”
“And at that moment, it would seem to me that the dialogue came to a screeching halt,” he said.
“The president shut the door on dialogue by saying that there was not going to be any change in his position on abortion and he understood that there was not going to be any change in the Church’s position on abortion.”