April 10, 2009

Letters to the Editor

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President Obama’s invitation to Notre Dame is a cause for great sadness

It was with great sadness that I read in The Criterion that President Barack Obama has been invited to speak at Notre Dame’s commencement this year.

I commend and thank Bishop John D’Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese for his public statement denouncing this decision and his refusal to attend the commencement address.

Two years ago, our son, a Notre Dame scholar, voluntarily withdrew from the University of Notre Dame for just such reasons. He stated that the Catholic Church he studied and knew during his parochial high school years was “not” the Church that he found at Notre Dame.

Instead, our son became gravely disillusioned with the hypocrisy he found on that campus. We supported him in his difficult decision to leave, and he is now very happy at a secular university.

As followers of Jesus, it is vital that we be able to discern truth from false teaching. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned of false teachers by saying thus: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit, you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?” (Mt 7:15-16).

Likewise, all Catholics know that President Obama’s stance on human life and stem-cell research is contradictory to Church and biblical teaching.

While we shall continue to pray for our president and those in leadership, we must not quietly stand in acceptance of such views.

I consider it a sham and disgrace that the University of Notre Dame has invited President Obama to speak at this year’s commencement, and I encourage all Notre Dame parents, alumni and others in the community to speak loudly and vehemently against this blasphemous decision.

- Susan Martin, Aurora


Has Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama already set the Holy Spirit in motion?

Some will say “Touchdown Jesus” was smiling, others that Jesus was frowning the day that President Barack Obama addressed the University of Notre Dame’s 2009 graduating class.

Forgive my astonishment at first hearing the president of Notre Dame will welcome the president of the United States to this historic campus.

Yet, is denouncement rightfully directed at Notre Dame, or might we more precisely understand reasons for asking Obama to come to South Bend just four months into his presidency?

Why not have waited until his second or third year in office, allowing time for redemption? Perhaps the very issuance of this invitation has already set the Holy Spirit in motion.

At times, it is effortless to be a reliable Roman Catholic, at times not. This Notre Dame business takes some exertion to understand at a glance. Are all the questions answered, no more surprises to come?

As a result of his stopover, will there be just a wee bit more attraction to Obama’s profferings about human life only because he was honored on the soil of America’s leading Catholic University?

Maybe, rather than lamenting his visit but because of it, we may, with the help of the same Holy Spirit, become more aware that life is really worth living.

How appalling it will be if Catholics and others “couldn’t care less” about any of this.

- Joseph M. Mucha, Pittsboro


Reader: I see no respect for life issues where President Obama is concerned

A public thank you to Bishop John M. D’Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese for his principled stand not to attend graduation ceremonies at Notre Dame because the university has seen fit to invite President Barack Obama to address the graduates and receive an honorary degree. American Catholics need Bishop D’Arcy’s kind of example and teaching.

In his public letter of explanation, Bishop D’Arcy states that, “President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred. While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life.”

Bishop D’Arcy refers to Obama’s executive order that now allows the creation of embryos for the sole purpose of destroying them to conduct research, but he could have as easily cited Obama’s overturning the pro-life Mexico City policy or his decision to fund the United Nations Population Fund that will subsidize destroying unborn children around the world.

Now, the president promises to roll back conscience protections for pro-life medical professionals and to sign the misnamed Freedom of Choice Act, which he hopes Congress will deliver to his desk.

Respect for life? I see “none.” Does Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, really think rewarding such Obama actions will encourage him to have greater respect for life?

To issue such an invitation, Father Jenkins ignores the 2004 statement of the U.S. Catholic bishops, which states: “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.”

Father Jenkins says his invitation does not imply such support. I wonder if even he believes that. He acknowledges that he has received many complaints from alumni and Catholics in general.

A university spokesman claims “anecdotal evidence” that Notre Dame students are happy with the selection. If the invitation and statement are indicative of what those students are being taught, that is not surprising.

Father Jenkins says Notre Dame “will honor Mr. Obama as an inspiring leader who faces many challenges ... and is addressing them with intelligence, courage and honesty.”

Intelligence? Courage? Honesty? Regarding life issues, I see “none.”

- Rose B. Kehoe, Indianapolis


Memo to Notre Dame: If address must be given, no honorary degree for President Obama

In response to the March 27 story regarding the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Barack Obama: Is the golden dome ego so big that Holy Cross Father John Jenkins (the university president) does not report to a board of governors?

The Notre Dame board should give the good Father a leave of absence with an order to seek help. The last count reported shows the number of people who signed the petition (www.notredamescandal.com) opposing the president’s visit was at more than 246,000.

If the ego won’t allow terminating the visit, at least please, no honorary degree. Because President Obama speaks at the U.S. Naval Academy and Arizona State University makes a Notre Dame invite all good? The Naval Academy happens to part of the U.S. Department of Defense. President Obama runs the DOD. Understand?

Arizona State University is state supported. We thought Notre Dame was a “Catholic” university. We should all thank God for the presence of Bishop John D’Arcy.

- Edward J. and Dolores C. Woods, Indianapolis


Church must take a consistent stand on its positions, reader says

Your article on the invitation of President Barack Obama to speak at, and to receive an honorary degree from, the University of Notre Dame was interesting—but also very disappointing as coming from the official archdiocesan newspaper.

Notre Dame is “the” Catholic educational institution of higher learning of this state. The very idea that this institution has issued the invitation—and the even worse one of conferring an “honorary” degree on a man who so widely and actively rejects basic tenets of our religion—is abhorrent to those of us who try to live by all the teachings of the Church.

Holy Cross Father John Jenkins says the invitation “... should not be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues …” This seems to be the equivalent of asking Willie Sutton to speak on ethics while asking the audience to overlook his attitude about bank robberies.

Has this (formerly) great university fallen to the level of “cafeteria” Catholicism? Can this travesty be justified by playing the race card? Will the “honorary” degree be meaningful when this man decides a nurse, doctor or hospital must carry out infanticide without regard to conscience?

You ran this story without comment on Obama’s many anti-Catholic positions immediately adjacent to another story lauding doctors for following their conscience on the question of family planning.

Did you really see no irony in this? What will happen to these doctors, and others like them, when Obama’s ideas are enacted into law with the help of “good Catholics” like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice-President Joseph Biden?

When is the Church going to take a consistent stand on its positions and set people like Father Jenkins straight? Offering great honors to a man who wants to set the power of government against the Church tends to confuse those of us still sitting out there in the pews.

- Fredrick K. McCarthy, Indianapolis

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