Notre Dame 88

Tuesday, October 5, AD 2010

By Charles E. Rice

Fr. Norman Weslin, O.S., at the complaint of Notre Dame, was arrested in May 2009 and charged as a criminal for peacefully entering the Notre Dame campus to offer his prayer of reparation for Notre Dame’s conferral of its highest honor on President Obama, the most relentlessly pro-abortion public official in the world.  The University refuses to ask the St. Joseph County prosecutor to drop the charges against Fr. Weslin and the others arrested, still known as the ND 88 although one, Linda Schmidt, died of cancer this past March.  Judge Michael P. Scopelitis, of St. Joseph Superior Court, recently issued two important orders in this case.

The first order denied the State’s motion to consolidate the cases of multiple defendants.  That motion would have denied each separate defendant his right to a separate jury trial.  The order did permit consolidation of the trials of twice-charged defendants on the separate offenses with which that defendant was charged; a defendant charged, for example, with trespass and disorderly conduct would therefore not have to appear for two trials.  Judge Scopelitis also denied the prosecution’s attempt to force each defendant to return to South Bend for each proceeding in the case, which would have coerced the defendants to abandon their defense.  Instead, the Judge permitted the defendants to participate by telephone in pre-trial conferences.

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38 Responses to Notre Dame 88

  • Pingback: Notre Dame 88 Update by Charles E. Rice « Deacon John's Space
  • What an outstanding article!! It would be nice if Catholic Universities actually lived up to “being Catholic” or that they lived out Catholic principles which are in line with Church teaching. Even those that are Traditional or conservative Catholic colleges find it very hard in some cases to actually walk-the-walk and not just talk-the-talk when it really counts (I know this from personal experience). I guess human nature takes over or something.

    The charges should have been dropped a long time ago. Shame on Notre Dame!

  • Catholic in name only.

    “We shall go before a higher tribunal – a tribunal where a Judge of infinite goodness, as well as infinite justice, will preside, and where many of the judgments of this world will be reversed.” Thomas Meagher, statement on sentencing by a saxon court.

    Matthew 12:34: “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”

  • “Notre Dame appears to be governed by academic ruling class wannabes. The operative religion of the academic and political establishments, however, is political correctness. Activist opponents of ROTC and activist advocates of “gay rights” are politically correct. Activist pro-lifers, such as Fr. Weslin and the ND88, are not. For Notre Dame’s leaders to show respect for the ND88, let alone apologize to them and seek an end to their prosecution, as they ought, would be to touch a third rail of academic respectability. It would not play well in the ruling academic circles. What would they think of us at Harvard, Yale, etc?”

    Bingo! The powers that be at Notre Dame are defending their faith against the heretics of the Notre Dame 88, and that faith has nothing to do with Catholicism. It is a disgrace that every bishop in this country has not condemned this.

  • Maybe ND simply wanted to protect its students and faculty. The mob had already shown its penchance for breaking the law — no one was capable of knowing whether the mob would become violent — it is not unheard of.

    ND’s “inconsistent” treatment is also not shocking. Given the history of trespassing and the fact that past light treatment did not stop it, ND may be sending a stronger message to protect the safety and security of its community.

    Mr. Rice should also know, as a lawyer, that Fr. Weslin’s health or his past deeds are irrelevant as to whether he broke the law. Surely, they are great rhetorical flourishes, but they are just that, a trick used to distract you from the fact that a law was willfully and knowingly ignored.

    Finally, Mr. Rice also should know, as a lawyer, that clients discourage employees from being deposed for all sorts of reasons — not necessarily related to whether they are “hiding” something. This is libelous.

  • This is libelous.

    An easy stone to throw for someone hiding behind the veil of anonymity.

  • “The mob had already shown its penchance for breaking the law — no one was capable of knowing whether the mob would become violent — it is not unheard of.”

    Yeah, you can never know when an 80 year old priest peacefully praying will turn violent.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/03/08/father-norman-weslin-champion-of-the-unborn/

  • I was there, on campus for the mass and rosary. My daughter is one of the ND88. I walked out and joined the protesters for much of the day. The activities were all available on youtube. Only a deeply dishonest person could conceive of a “mob” anywhere near Notre Dame that day. Peace.

  • What about the 87 other people? Did ND and the police know the intentions of each of them? Frankly, I think it’s despicable that you use Fr. Weslin as your shield. Also, I missed the memo where we excuse the aged and people who have done otherwise good things in their lives for breaking the law. These people made conscious decisions to trespass. They could have stayed outside the university and gotten their point across. Rather, they wanted to make a spectable and get on TV, which they succeeded in doing. They now need to be adults and accept responsibility for their transgressions.

    Also, just because a person is 80, just because someone is a preist, just because someone is praying, doesn’t mean they can’t be violent. People pray to their god all the time before committing acts of violence — that cannot be denied. People who are 80 commit acts of violence, and we certainly have learned that priests are not above committing acts of violence. I would also point out that Fr. Weslin was just one person — there were many more.

    To an objective observer, and clearly you are not, these people trespassed. They were arrested. End of story. Any excuse you want to make is a consequence of your relgious and political views–which, of course, is your right and fine. Just don’t pretend it’s anything other than that.

    That day was supposed to be about the graduates celebrating their accomplishment. These clowns made it about their cause, which is a shame.

  • ” Only a deeply dishonest person could conceive of a “mob” anywhere near Notre Dame that day. Peace.”

    As our anonymous commenter is amply demonstrating. The Notre Dame 88 are being persecuted because they are a standing rebuke to the Notre Dame administration honoring the most pro-abortion president in our history. All the obfuscation in the world cannot disguise that very simple fact. My congratulations Larry on the fine job you obviously did in raising your daughter.

  • Anonymous, how long have you been a member of the Notre Dame administration?

  • In case Mr. McClarey does not have acces to a dictionary, please see the definition of “mob” and “dishonest.”

    Definition of MOB
    1: a large or disorderly crowd; especially : one bent on riotous or destructive action
    2: the lower classes of a community : masses, rabble
    3chiefly Australian : a flock, drove, or herd of animals
    4: a criminal set : gang; especially often capitalized
    5: a group of people : crowd

    Definition of DISHONEST
    Characterized by lack of truth, honesty, or trustworthiness : unfair, deceptive

    Here is an entry on ad hominem attacks — often resorted to by those who cannot win an argument on the mertis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

    Let me get this straight, a group of 88 religious zealots trespass onto private property on which the President of the United States is speaking and you are surprised/indignant they were arrested? Seriously?

    If you can, deep in your heart say that you would be defending, with the same zealousness, people who were protesting the “right to choose” or Islamic protestors, then, maybe I would believe you.

    It is sad that people turned a day of celebration for the graduates into a political side show. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  • a group of 88 religious zealots

    Thank God Notre Dame is doing its damnedest stamp out religious zeal.

    Then again, it’s been doing that since the Land O’ Lakes Statement, so I guess it’s consistent.

    Oh, and nice job of hiding behind “the graduates,” anonymous ND admin guy.

    It’s this sort of mindset that reminds me why I’m recommending that my children go to an avowedly secular college as opposed to a Land O’ Lakes one. Sure, they’ll hate your faith at a state university, but at least they won’t wear a cloak of Catholic sanctimony while doing it.

    Better to be stabbed in the chest than the back.

  • Let me get this straight, a group of 88 religious zealots trespass onto private property on which the President of the United States is speaking and you are surprised/indignant they were arrested? Seriously?

    There are over 11,000 students at Notre Dame. Add the faculty and the staff and you have 15,000 people on the campus as a matter of course. Then you add in any visitors that day. The ’88 religious zealots’ will increase the size of the campus population by 0.6%. The rathskellar at the campus I know best will have that many people present around noontime, and that particular institution is one-quarter the size of Notre Dame.

    You might also note that his primary complaint is not that they were arrested, but that the institution has persisted in pressing charges when they had not done so in previous circumstances, and lied publicly about their resons for so doing.

  • Just for the kind of clarity and exactness which is typical of Catholic thought, it is not Notre Dame which is prosecuting the ND88. It is Fr. Jenkins – personally. The buck stops at his desk. He hides behind the institution. Let us make an analogy – he is hiding behind the skirts of Our Lady.

  • I looked up your ip address anonymous, and I really hope that you are not an attorney at the law firm you are e-mailing from, because you are not very good at arguing in comboxes and I truly would hate to be paying you to do so in court. The firm that you are e-mailing from seems to have quite a few contacts with Notre Dame. I wonder if you are doing this on your own time, or if someone at Notre Dame is actually foolish enough to pay you to mount this type of sophistical defense of the indefensible?

  • It’s a pretty large firm – I interviewed with them a while back and have friends that work there. In the DC office alone, there are fourteen Domers. It’s unlikely that the commenter above is billing time for arguing on blogs, but the tone of the comment and the handy dictionary references suggest a feisty 1-3 year associate.

  • “but the tone of the comment and the handy dictionary references suggest a feisty 1-3 year associate.”

    Quite true. I hope for anonymous that he wasn’t doing this on a firm computer equipped with tracking software. If I were a partner there I would take a dim view of associates wasting time on blogs during office hours. Ah, the advantages of being a self-employed attorney!

  • If I were a partner there I would take a dim view of associates wasting time on blogs during office hours.

    um…yeah…I agree…no junior associate should ever waste time on blogs during office hours…right on. Who are these people? 😉

    In their defense, I will say that many partner’s definition of ‘office hours’ is roughly “any time during which the associate is alive and not undergoing major surgery.” Another benefit of being self-employed, I suppose.

  • “In their defense, I will say that many partner’s definition of ‘office hours’ is roughly “any time during which the associate is alive and not undergoing major surgery.””

    That is precisely one of the main reasons I became self-employed John Henry. I wanted to have a family life and not work on weekends, and too many firms seemed to think that associates lived only to practice law, and to be the handy target of the ire of dyspeptic partners.

  • “Just for the kind of clarity and exactness which is typical of Catholic thought, it is not Notre Dame which is prosecuting the ND88. It is Fr. Jenkins – personally. The buck stops at his desk.”

    bingo. Fr. Jenkins is doing all he can do to stay in the good graces of his liberal friends. chump.

  • I believe Professor Rice’s general thesis is unquestionably correct: Notre Dame craves the approval of the Princes of this World.

    But from the belly of the beast, a few qualifications may be appropriate.

    I have been told, at any rate, that because the charge is criminal trespass, Notre Dame, despite what everyone says, cannot ask the county prosecutor to dismiss the case. The prosecutor could ask that the case be dismissed, but he would have to justify the request to a judge.

    As Professor Rice documents, previous instances of this sort had been handled quietly by the university itself.This time the South Bend and St. Joseph county police were brought in, and I suspect that everyone in the administration now sees this was a blunder. Part of the reason for deposing Mr. Kirk may be to determine just how this decision came to be made.

    Notre Dame has offered “generous”terms to the defendants. Plead guilty, accept some kind of nominal or suspended punishment, and put the whole thing behind us. The university is in the position of the poor Roman magistrate judging the typical virgin and martyr: Cut me some slack–just genuflect to that damned idol over there and we can all go home. Such blandishments were generally rejected; and I suspect the current ones will be as well.

  • I have been told, at any rate, that because the charge is criminal trespass

    No kidding. If I am not mistaken, under New York law, an act of trespass does not qualify as criminal trespass unless (at a minimum) there is a fence or wall around the property which excludes intruders.

  • “I have been told, at any rate, that because the charge is criminal trespass, Notre Dame, despite what everyone says, cannot ask the county prosecutor to dismiss the case. The prosecutor could ask that the case be dismissed, but he would have to justify the request to a judge.”

    You have been misinformed. Prosecutors nolle prosse countless cases across the nation each day. The consent of the court is pro forma since the court lacks the power to compel the State to prosecute anyone, which is wholly in the discretion of the prosecutor.

    “Notre Dame has offered “generous”terms to the defendants.”

    Of course this demonstrates that Notre Dame is the driving force behind the prosecution. The terms that the Notre Dame 88 should accept from Notre Dame are the dismissal of all charges, payment of their legal fees, a written apology from Notre Dame, and a promise from Notre Dame that they will no longer honor pro-abort politicians.

    This of course is in the spirit of Theoden’s reaction to Saruman’s request for “peace”.

    “We will have peace. Yes, we will have peace, we will have peace when you and all your works have perished — and the works of your dark master to whom you would deliver us. You are a liar, Saruman, and a corrupter of men’s hearts. You hold out your hand to me, and I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor. Cruel and cold! Even if your war on me was just as it was not, for were you ten times as wise you would have no right to rule me and mine for your own profit as you desired — even so, what will you say of your torches in Westfold and the children that lie dead there? And they hewed Hama’s body before the gates of the Hornburg, after he was dead. When you hang from a gibbet at your window for the sport of your own crows, I will have peace with you and Orthanc. So much for the House of Eorl. A lesser son of great sires am I, but I do not need to lick your fingers. Turn elsewhither. But I fear your voice has lost its charm.”

  • Not to sound like I’m defending Anonymous here, but…. if the ND88 were KNOWINGLY risking arrest, by crossing a line they had been warned not to cross, and if they were clearly told by university authorities that they WOULD be arrested if they persisted in their actions, then they should accept the consequences, plead guilty and serve whatever sentences they get. That’s what other practitioners of this kind of civil disobedience do (or should do, in my opinion). They don’t argue that they are innocent and being persecuted, they acknowledge that they broke the law to call attention to their cause AND they’d gladly do it again. If that means they go to jail, that goes with the territory, doesn’t it?

    That being said, it would be fitting if Fr. Jenkins or other authorities at Notre Dame asked for the charges to be dropped as a gesture of mercy and solidarity with the cause they were espousing.

    All this, of course, presumes that the ND88 knowingly engaged in illegal actions and were clearly warned that they were risking arrest. If it was a case of a LEGAL protest gathering getting out of hand, or of the participants crossing some invisible “line” they hadn’t been told was there, that would be another story completely.

  • Also, the fact that Notre Dame allegedly let other protesters off more easily doesn’t change the nature of the illegal actions committed by the ND88. While it does show that Notre Dame isn’t being consistent in enforcing its supposed rules regarding protests — and that is a significant issue — still, you can’t argue your way out of any other punishment by saying “But someone else got away with it!”

  • “Not to sound like I’m defending Anonymous here, but…. if the ND88 were KNOWINGLY risking arrest, by crossing a line they had been warned not to cross, and if they were clearly told by university authorities that they WOULD be arrested if they persisted in their actions, then they should accept the consequences, plead guilty and serve whatever sentences they get.”

    Only if Notre Dame wishes to be in the same moral category of the segregationists who legally prosecuted people who sat in at restaurants. When one is being punished unjustly, I see no merit in accepting punishment meekly. Make them prove it at trial. Turn the case against the prosecution by making a big stink about it in every forum possible. Make sure that the injustice of the prosecution becomes a cause celebre. Jenkins and his cohorts would love nothing better than the Notre Dame 88 to meekly admit their guilt and for them to accept their punishment like good boys and girls. I am glad that this satisfaction has been denied them by the intestinal fortitude of the Notre Dame 88.

  • “still, you can’t argue your way out of any other punishment by saying “But someone else got away with it!””

    Actually Elaine I have done just that in some of my cases by proving selective prosecution and having judges determine that prosecutors have abused their discretion. It isn’t easy to do, but given fact situations egregious enough, it is possible.

  • “his (Rice’s) primary complaint is not that they were arrested, but that the institution has persisted in pressing charges when they had not done so in previous circumstances, and lied publicly about their reasons for so doing.”

    I understand this and it’s an appropriate question to raise. And, I suppose that by pleading not guilty and fighting the charges every step of the way, the ND88 could bring those two injustices to light. But, at the end of the day, it seems to me that “don’t do the ‘crime’ if you can’t do the time” applies to civil disobedience actions as well.

    Also, for reasons I have explained before, I don’t think civil disobedience that involves deliberately trying to get arrested for trespassing as an attention-getting device is quite in the same category as lunch counter sit-ins. Sit-ins involved people breaking a law that was inherently unjust — a law designed specifically to prevent people of a certain skin color from doing something they had a natural right to do — to show the world just how unjust and ridiculous the law was. Going out of one’s way to break an otherwise JUST law that has nothing directly to do with the injustice being protested (abortion) is different.

  • What is remarkable to me, and what I really just don’t grasp, is *what possible motive* ND could have in continuing with these charges. Fr. Jenkins, for all his limitations, is certainly no dummy, and he, as well as the other members of the senior administration (to say nothing of the Board of Trustees) must realize that ND qua university will not gain anything from this process. It’s not as though Princeton or Duke will suddenly kowtow to the Dome because a few pro-life activists were arrested there. This view can’t seriously be entertained. It’s also only attracting *more* negative press to ND, and further alienating fence-leaning Catholics who were not happy about Obama but were neither entirely supportive of much of the shenanigans and selective (and sometimes politically motivated) outrage expressed at his visit. These Catholics, seeing now ND’s apparent inconsistency of procedure, will now take more darkly a view of the administration than they ever did before. So I don’t see that ND has anything to gain here, while they have much to lose. If I did not already have experience with administrators’ capacities for practical reasoning, these two considerations would make me think that ND *can’t* remove the charges at this point (something Donald denies). The whole situation is just weird.

  • The whole situation is just weird.

    If you posit that Notre Dame’s administration despises the demonstrators and wants their ilk to stay away forever, the effort to humiliate and injure them seems less weird.

  • I suppose I find it self-evident that that strategy is counterproductive *given* the interests of ND, whatever they think of the demonstrators. (Whatever one thinks of the ND88, and I am generally supportive of them, turning them into martyrs for the pro-life cause will hardly have the effect you suggest.) And I suppose that I think the administrators themselves should realize this. But again, never overestimate administrators’ capacities for practical reasoning.

  • Just to be clear: I yield to no one in contempt for how Notre Dame has handled the case; and my opinion of the real motives of the university administration is culpably uncharitable. Nonetheless. . .

    In Indiana, criminal trespass includes entering private property without permission and refusing to leave when requested to do so by the owner or an authorized agent of the owner. If I come to your front door and, say, hector you about joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses; and you ask me to go away; and I refuse: then you can call the cops. I don’t have to climb over a wall or anything like that.

    What possible motive can Notre Dame have for continuing these charges? Notre Dame has only itself to blame for the pickle that it is in, but it may have less freedom of action (pace Mr. McCleary) than people assume (if also more freedom of action than implied in my previous post). The risk of nolle prosse, I think, is that the the judge might react by dismissing the case (rather than just letting things hang). If the case is dismissed or the defendants acquitted, the university (and perhaps the South Bend police) might find themselves in line for a false arrest suit. How plausible this is I don’t know, but it’s what I gather third or fourth hand from lawyers familiar with the case.

    On a more principled level, the university has a legitimate interest in keeping its status as private property. Again, as I understand it, one line of defense by the 88 is that the university campus is in fact open pretty much to anyone, that it amounts to public space where they may legitimately exercise their first amendment rights (and, after all, the university took no action against those demonstrating in favor of the award to Obama). But the university does not in fact let the general public come and go as it pleases. At every home football game the area around the campus is filled with ticket scalpers, but scalpers are not allowed on campus. If the 88 win their point, would the university have welcome in the scalpers?

    (I also wonder if there isn’t some relevance to the Westboro Baptist case. One’s sympathies would be on opposite sides, but there may be a family resemblance in terms or principle. The families of fallen soldiers may have a legitimate complaint against those who obnoxiously interfere with the funerals; and Notre Dame may have a legitimate complaint against intrusion from those who the administration finds, however perversely, obnoxious to itself or its undertakings.)

    I hope the 88 get off, and, while normally I’m not wild about punishment of any kind, I hope the consequences to the university are sufficiently severe to cause some in the administration to rethink the actual values they live by. But in the abstract the university’s case is not entirely without merit.

    I’m also partly sympathetic to what I take to be Elaine Krewer’s point: If I actively court martyrdom and martyrdom is consequently offered to me, I should probably accept it gratefully, not whine about it. But it’s not clear that the 88 were actively courting martyrdom. It seems that many of them really did not think that the university would react in the clumsy, small-minded, militantly graceless way that it did.

  • “The risk of nolle prosse, I think, is that the the judge might react by dismissing the case (rather than just letting things hang).”

    You are confusing apples and oranges. Nolle Prosse is not a dismissal with prejudice. The Defendants could bring a motion to dismiss with prejudice at any time, as could the prosecutors, but nolle prosse is not the same thing. A nolle prosse simply means that the prosecutor is not proceeding with the prosecution. No double jeopardy attaches and the defendants can be recharged at any time. As for a civil suit from the ND88, that could be brought at any time and has little refence to what happens in the criminal case. A perfect example is how OJ Simpson could be found not guilty of the murders and still lose the civil suit over the murders.

  • If I come to your front door and, say, hector you about joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses; and you ask me to go away; and I refuse: then you can call the cops. I don’t have to climb over a wall or anything like that.

    In New York, there is a ‘Trespass’, which is in a submisdemeanor category called a ‘violation’, and ‘Criminal Trespass’. There are three degrees of criminal trespass. For the most part, you have to be inside a building to be charged with ‘criminal trespass’, but you can be charged with the 3d degree criminal trespass if you enter grounds enclosed in some way.

    If I am not mistaken, the crime you describe is, under New York law, [non-criminal] ‘Trespass’. The maximal sentance for trespass is 15 days in the county jail and a three-figure fine. As a rule, the judiciary is quite lax when they are given the discretion, as they are in non-felony cases hereabouts. Then again, a large fraction of the municipal court case load Upstate is heard by lay J.P.’s. A buddy of mine in the state Attorney-General’s office tells me that lay judges are often quite good, but when they are bad they are horrid.

  • This may be getting to be too much inside baseball, and I’m not a very good player.

    Nolle prosse: The risk is that the judge’s reaction would be to dismiss with prejudice, which does happen sometimes. I hadn’t thought about a civil suit–but that’s unlikely on its face; and, anyway, Notre Dame didn’t suffer any damages.

    The Indiana law on criminal trespass is more stringent than what is typical of other states.

  • In regard to a civil suit I was referring to a hypothetical suit by ND88 against Notre Dame.

    I can’t imagine a judge dismissing a criminal case with prejudice based upon a nolle prosse motion by the State, absent a motion filed by either the State or the Defendants to dismiss with prejudice. In a nolle prosse motion the current prosecution and case simply ends because the prosecutor does not wish to proceed. A motion to dismiss with prejudice by the Defendants would have to establish that a successful prosecution was impossible due to some legal defect in the prosecution or that under any possible facts shown at trial no conviction would be possible. That is a very high standard to meet, and I do not see any way in this case that a judge could so find under the existing law and facts of the case.

  • This whole incident caused me to rule out ever applying to Notre Dame, which I seriously considered at one point. While attending a law school fair in New York, I approached the Notre Dame booth and asked the representative, in as neutral a tone as possible, if there was any emphasis on the Catholic nature of the school reflected on its campus, not mentioning that I myself was Catholic. She downplayed the notion, saying something to the effect of “no, it’s not a big deal.”

    “Maybe ND simply wanted to protect its students and faculty. The mob had already shown its penchance for breaking the law — no one was capable of knowing whether the mob would become violent — it is not unheard of. “

    No, indeed not. Recall the brave and truly Catholic students who stood up to and battled the ku klux klan in South Bend in 1924.

    How tragic that Notre Dame now wields nothing but moral cowardice in utilizing secular police power to promote abortion, the political lineage of which is directly traceable back to psychotic white supremacists and eugenicists.

Notre Dame Must Answer For The Obama Scandal

Wednesday, August 26, AD 2009

Obama Notre Dame

[Updated as of 8-26-2009 AD at 6:01 pm CST, see below]

Bishop D’Arcy pens an article in the dissident Catholic Jesuit-run magazine, America, by rapping the University of Notre Dame in it’s failure in being a witness to the Gospel by honoring the most anti-life president in the history of the United States.

He goes on to single out Father John Jenkins for his failure in leading as a man of faith and to the board of trustees for their deafening silence.

Finally he asks the University of Notre Dame, but also other Catholic universities, whether they will follow the Land O’Lakes Statement, which proclaimed in ambiguous language that it was ‘ok’ to dissent from Catholic teaching, or adhere to Ex Corde Ecclesiae, where Catholic teaching and identity must be a priori.

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32 Responses to Notre Dame Must Answer For The Obama Scandal

  • Should Notre Dame have avoided teaching or even discussing evolution until the Holy Father accepted it as fact? Should any Catholic school not asked Galileo to speak if the Church leaders believed the Earth was the center of the universe?

    Sometimes ignoring those we do not agree with and at times violently opposing them, simply means leaders will have to apologize for the backwards thinking a few decades or centuries later.

    I understand abortion is less cut and dry than evolution or the basic structure of the solar system. Ethical and moral positions may not need objective knowledge in determining their validity, but often morality is seen as a means to ignore the pain of others, a means to stop thought and discourse, a means to vilify the “other.”

    Allowing President Obama to speak did not cause anyone to perform an abortion and keeping him from speaking would not have prevented any abortions.

    There is more to life and to the Life of Christ than one issue, no matter how important it is, and I would have liked to see a similar discussion take place when anyone who supported the death penalty or the war in Iraq or the torture of prisoners came to Notre Dame.

  • MacGregor,

    I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about.

  • I am sure MacGregor does not know what he is talking about. Abortion is more cut and dry, not less, than the other issues he raises.

    But putting that aside, how will ND answer for the O scandal? Will D’Arcy walk the walk? Them’s fine words, but what consequences has ND suffered, other than increased applications from liberal students and professors? Do you seriously expect that, if push comes to shove, that ND’s Catholic creds (to the extent they exist) will be removed by the Bishop?

    Heck, I haven’t even seen one deny communion to a Catholic pro-abort politician, much less yank a Catholic university’s affiliation.

  • Hi Tito and c matt

    I actually do know what I am talking about.

    I am very clear that abortion as an issue is more cut and dry as to its moral consequences than the other issues, however it is less cut and dry when it comes to being able to prove that personhood and the soul enters the body at the moment of conception/fertilization. It will never be possible to PROVE the existence of the soul much less prove that the Bible or Church Teachings are infallibly correct … that is why it is called FAITH.

    Both of you act as if your conservative views of Catholicism are the only ones that matter.

    Asking Obama to speak at ND is no different than asking Bush to speak there. That is the point.
    Capital punishment is no less a sin than abortion. That is the point.
    Not all student who go to ND are Catholic and not all Catholics believe that we should force others to believe everything that we do. Should all speakers and professors at ND take a test as to whether they believe in transubstantiation? in speaking in ex cathedra?

    My point is that reasonable and moral people can have differing opinions on matters of faith. It is unreasonable to disagree that the Earth is in the center of the solar system, but it is reasonable to disagree on at what point human life deserves legal protection or at what point a woman has control over her own body.

    ND should not merely stand for dogma, like a radical Islamic madras, as both of you seem to feel. ND as an institution of learning needs to stand for the free and honest and ethical exchange of ideas so that those who come have all of the opportunity to seek the Truth and live a moral life.

    I believe that abortion is the ending of a human life, but it is not self-evident to everybody that that is true. The Catholic Church can deny communion to anyone that the Bishops want, but the Church and they must do so for the right reasons, not just to make conservatives feel good about themselves or because they have a 3rd grade Sunday School view of theology.

    My comments are merely a voice asking those who feel the need to condemn others, to look at ourselves first. More people die because of neglect (starvation, disease) and murder (illegal wars, crime) than from abortions, yet I rarely see conservative Catholics protest these as much. They may not be as viscerally abhorrent to you as abortion or as politically significant, but they are just as important. Maybe both of you did protest the war in Iraq – I don’t know. I simply want the discussion of Obama at ND to be fair and reasonable and sometimes a quick post to a blog isn’t enough for that to occur.

    Peace.

  • Actually Capital punishment is not a sin. Sorry, as cmatt and Tito point out, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Capital punishment is no less a sin than abortion. That is the point.

    Errr, no. It isn’t. The Church is very clear in its teachings that abortion is neve permissible under any circumstance, whereas the death penalty is permitted, though under strict applications. This is not the “conservative” Catholic approach – it’s simply the Catholic approach. If you disagree with that, take it up with the Pope.

    Not all student who go to ND are Catholic and not all Catholics believe that we should force others to believe everything that we do. Should all speakers and professors at ND take a test as to whether they believe in transubstantiation? in speaking in ex cathedra?

    I am beginning to agree with Tito. Clearly you do not understand what you’re talking about, or what the issues of this debate are. The question has always been whether or not it is appropriate or permissible for a Catholic institution to honor someone who holds positions that are in direct conflict with Church teachings. The answer again is no.

    My point is that reasonable and moral people can have differing opinions on matters of faith.

    You sound like my Junior year high school theology teacher, who was unsurprisingly a Jesuit priest.

    It is unreasonable to disagree that the Earth is in the center of the solar system, but it is reasonable to disagree on at what point human life deserves legal protection or at what point a woman has control over her own body.

    No, actually, you have this reversed, unless you are looking at this from a non-Catholic perspective, which I take it you are.

    a 3rd grade Sunday School view of theology.

    Considering that every single statement you have uttered indicates that you have not ever picked up a Catechism, I would refrain from such comments if I were you.

    More people die because of neglect (starvation, disease) and murder (illegal wars, crime) than from abortions

    Aside from the fact that your stats are wrong, at least as applied to the US, your comment is just silly. The fact that you think that the war in Iraq is a more pressing moral issue than abortion just confirms the fact that your viewpoint is pretty much worthless.

  • The whole quote on the death penalty from the Catechism. This is probably at a higher level then just pure Sunday school.

    2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
    If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

    Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

  • Paul, Phillip, C Matt,

    Thank you for supporting my points with examples.

    MacGregor,

    Paul made it pretty clear.

    The fact that a Catholic university gave an honorary degree to a person that implements policies that are diametrically opposed to the most important of Catholic issues is the scandal.

    Not anything else.

  • Thank you Phillip for the quote from the Catechist. I do understand the doctrine, but I also believe that maximum security prisons are quite able to “effectively defend human lives against the unjust aggressor” and that there are plenty of “non-lethal means to defend and protect people’s safety.”

    Maybe in times of war or civil strife on the battle field it is necessary to execute a guilty aggressor, but

    I agree that the Catechist IS at a higher level than Sunday school, I just think some people who read it are not and that comment was not even directed at anyone on this blog. I did make the observation that this blog seems to be as much about political conservative principles as it is about Catholic theological principles.

    As I do not know anyone in this forum, I wouldn’t presume to attach any of you as uninformed. As for myself, I went to a diocesan elementary school, a Jesuit high school, an Holy Cross university and my home parish was Franciscan. Maybe that makes me mixed up a bit, especially when it comes to donating to alumni associations, but I think it was a great education. The diocesans taught me how to respect authority, the Jesuits taught me how to think, the Holy Cross taught me how to be a college football fan and the Franciscans taught me how to love.

    I don’t have the time or the space to explain each of my points fully, and I acknowledge that I may have been a bit chavalier comparing abortion and the death penalty, but I have had a good deal of time discussing these issues with Catholic theologians, and I do believe that life is a little more complex than a few paragraphs in the Catechism. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t need the Holy Spirit to continue to guide the Church.

    Regarding the extremely limited allowance for death penalty, this is largely an acknowledgment of the position of self-defense and the defense of others who are innocent. I would hope it were obvious that the hundreds of prisoners that are executed in Texas each year would never be released and executing them is not an act of self-defense. It is an act of revenge or “justice” or some other emotion that is not clearly self-defense. No one on death row to my knowledge has ever escaped unless they were exonerated and I’m pretty sure most people in the judicial system would admit that more than a few innocent people have been executed in the last 100 years. So here simply quoting the Catechism may be a good sophist’s argument, but it isn’t particularly practical for most cases.

    As for the immorality of “any and all abortions,” I don’t have the time right now to describe my thoughts on the historical context, historical writings by Church Fathers (Didache, etc.). The supposed moral clarity of a few lines of text in old writings were never sufficient defense for the stagnant, overly conservative, “whitened sepulcher” Pharisees when Christ came to articulate the new commandments of Love so I hope that the same is true for you. Acknowledging of course that most abortions are not done in self-defense, if self-defense can be a reason to kill a prisoner, why is it not reason to kill a fetus? The logic is one-dimensional.

    Again not enough time to go over this and I do appreciate and agree with most of Donald DeMarco’s writings concerning this in http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=3362&CFID=14144486&CFTOKEN=20473498

    However he and many here act as if any question of interpretation or any critical thinking that may find contradictory propositions in Catholic teaching as being “liberal” and “anti-Catholic” is absurd. My issue in this thread is not with the details of the abortion debate, it is with the peculiar atmosphere of the debate as to whether President Obama deserved to be honored. And that atmosphere is one of being partisan and political and exists within the context of a vehement conservative backlash that goes beyond theology.

    How is it, Tito, that abortion is “the most important of Catholic issues?” Did the Pope tell you this? Is euthanasia and unjust war suddenly numbers 2 and 3? Are only conservative issues of life the ones that Catholics should be concerned with?

    Let’s not fool ourselves, George Bush was not protested by many of the same people who protested Obama because they only care about their social/political biases, not by theological arguments.

    No person or president is defined by one issue, no matter how important that issue is or no matter how important it is for you.

    When I was in my parishes boys choir, we went to the state capitol to sing for a pro-life rally. It was a deeply respectful and moving moment and even though I know a good deal more about life and morality now than when I was 12, I still remember it as a spiritual event. I did not see that in the fearful, ignorant, arrogant and angry faces that I saw on some at ND, nor on those at tax teaparties or at some of the latest health care town halls.

    I didn’t challenge anyone’s morality or question anyone’s education or honesty in this forum in my post. I wish you would do the same.

    If it is true, paul, that the ONLY question “has always been whether or not it is appropriate or permissible for a Catholic institution to honor someone who holds positions that are in direct conflict with Church teachings. The answer again is no.” Then I accept you opinion and I sympathize with your statement. However you and the protesters have proven that that is not the only question, and that many who hold placards really haven’t gotten beyond Sunday school level theology.

  • I would hope it were obvious that the hundreds of prisoners that are executed in Texas each year

    Texas executed 18 people last year, 16 people so far this year, and they are by far the leading state. Let’s at least start with facts, okay.
    http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/number-executions-state-and-region-1976

    Acknowledging of course that most abortions are not done in self-defense, if self-defense can be a reason to kill a prisoner, why is it not reason to kill a fetus? The logic is one-dimensional.

    Okay. If a fetus comes at its mother with a knife, we’ll grant that an abortion might be okay. So we’ll carve out a new exception to the complete prohibition against abortion: knife-wielding fetuses can be killed in self-defense.

    As an aside, you spill a lot of verbiage for someone who doesn’t “have time” to explain their positions.

    How is it, Tito, that abortion is “the most important of Catholic issues?” Did the Pope tell you this?

    Actually, yes.
    http://www.the-tidings.com/2004/0917/difference.htm

    In his letter, Cardinal Ratzinger also wrote that “Not all moral issues have the same weight as abortion and euthanasia…. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion, even among Catholics, about waging war or applying the death penalty, but not, however, with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

    that many who hold placards really haven’t gotten beyond Sunday school level theology.

    Again, since you have repeatedly shown a complete lack of knowledge about basic Catholic teaching, you ought to quit making this ridiculous assertion.

  • If a fetus comes at its mother with a knife, we’ll grant that an abortion might be okay. So we’ll carve out a new exception to the complete prohibition against abortion: knife-wielding fetuses can be killed in self-defense.

    Perhaps MacGregor has this in mind:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000HT38B2/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1400046416&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1Q9W3T79BK6BRZZ4283P

  • MacGregor, the faithful here will pillory you if you don’t subscribe to THEIR version of the Catholic faith. They are all about capital punishment, as you can see by their defense of it. Abortion is the holy grail by which all matters will be weighed. If you dissent, you show a “complete lack of knowledge”.

  • MacGregor, the faithful here will pillory you if you don’t subscribe to THEIR version of the Catholic faith. They are all about capital punishment, as you can see by their defense of it. Abortion is the holy grail by which all matters will be weighed.

    To my knowledge, more of our writers here oppose capital punishment than support it, and even among those of us who think there on occasions when it is called for (a claim that the catechism supports — though it questions whether they exist in modern first world nations) that support is generally fairly quiet. What people are pointing out here is simply what the Church teaching, indeed what the pope himself has written: that the justice of a given war or issues such as capital punishment are prudential while the evils of abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage and cannot legitimately be questioned by any Catholic.

    That this does not align with your personal preferences is unfortunate, but it’s not “our version” of Catholicism but Catholicism itself that you have a problem with if you find this unacceptable.

    We are all called to accept correction and guidance by Christ’s church on earth — and this applies even when this does not align with one’s political tribe.

  • Master C,

    I abhor capital punishment.

    You need to do your research before you say anything accusing us of what we aren’t.

    The American Catholic was put together with varying points of view being represented. The one thing that unites us is our love of the triune God and fidelity to the Magisterium.

    I hope that helps you the next time you accuse us of something we clearly are not.

  • Since when do you oppose the death penalty?

  • I never commented on it until now, that’s why you didn’t know. But I’ve always opposed the death penalty. Most of my friends know this, but now you know.

    Final judgment is for God, not man.

  • remember this?

    http://www.conservapedia.com/Conservativism

    Call it an accusation if you like, but this blog has certainly stood up for it
    [the death penalty] previously.

  • Master C.,

    That is a blanket statement. You are reading too much into this particular topic.

    Just because we don’t fit into your worldview of an evil conservative doesn’t mean you need to accuse us of what we aren’t.

  • I am glad to hear you are opposed to the death penalty. Indeed, the mind of God is unsearchable.

  • My long rant of the night. Since we’re talking about the death penalty, I want to talk about the prison system.

    I oppose the entire prison system as it exists today… it makes monsters out of mere lawbreakers. The condition of prisons in states like California are a testament to how little we value human life. A non-violent criminal has no business being thrown into a jail with hardened, violent, career criminals. And no one deserves to be beaten, gang-raped, and given terminal diseases, yet it happens all the time – and the prison guards are either indifferent or the perpetrators themselves.

    With such a system in place, I would actually prefer a quick execution to a long prison sentence, especially a life sentence. As things are, I’m not sure it is even an effective deterrent.

    I do believe there is a small percentage of criminals who are incurable sociopaths/psychopaths who should be put to death. I mean, these people are going to suffer an eternity in hell (most likely); if we’re so terrible for wanting to put them to death, how does the angry liberal deal with the reality of hell? Is God just a mean old man, or has hell been effectively written out of liberal theology? Is the problem REALLY that we’re supposedly taking the judgment out of God’s hands, or is it just materialist-determinist sociology seeping through theology – they didn’t really “choose” to be criminals so they shouldn’t really be punished?

    Let’s not forget that there is an unforgivable sin, the total and willful rejection of God. It is unforgivable, I think, because forgiveness would do nothing for such a person. A psychopath/sociopath that has willfully rejected all restraint and consideration for others, I believe, can and should suffer the final punishment. They cannot be cured because they will not be cured. We have to respect their decision.

    For the other 95% of criminals, I think the death penalty should be off the table and prison reform enacted as soon as possible. We have more criminals than any other developed country in the world – over 2 million prisoners. States like NY have ridiculous drug laws. Rehabilitation programs that work are deliberately denied funding by people who want to “get tough on crime”, even if it means sending non-violent, first time offenders into a hell on earth.

    This attitude is unconscionable for a Christian. Every effort at rehabilitation must be made in a society that places value on human life, and sensible policies regarding sentencing, placement, the structure of the prison, the screening out of sadists and bullies among the guards, all must take place.

  • Indeed, the mind of God is unsearchable.

    I bet Google will find a way. 😉

    Joe, I agree, our prison system is an abomination. It’s a scandal that persists quietly in the background. Infinitely more good would be done by working to reform the prison and justice system before tackling the death penalty.

  • Looks like Joe is our google. He has already figured out which 5% should be put to death. He already knows they are going to hell. Bravo.

  • I never said I knew. It’s just an opinion, one I’m willing to defend with a reasonable argument.

    Can you say the same about anything you believe, or do you think indignation is an adequate substitute for argument?

  • Rehabilitation programs that work are deliberately denied funding by people who want to “get tough on crime”, even if it means sending non-violent, first time offenders into a hell on earth.

    Suggest that the State of New York issue brief determinate sentences specified precisely or by formula in the statute. Families and charitable organizations can work on rehabilitation after convicts are released.

  • I agree with Tito that capital punishment is wrong.

  • Master C,

    Absolutely.

    Who are we to judge a man and take his life away.

    That is for God, not man.

  • It looks like my last post on Friday didn’t make it to the thread, but I appreciate reading the discussion that has taken place since.

    First to paul:

    Thank you for actually using facts on the number of death penalty executions in Texas, my suggestion that the number was in the hundreds was incorrect and came from what I read concerning those on death row, not actually executed. Here is a graph from the US State Dept. that represents the number of exectutions by year over the last century.

    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/exe.htm

    It is interesting to see what the effects might have been of the civil rights movement and a more “liberal” slant to national politics during the 60’s and 70’s. However, paul, your data begs several questions.

    1. If Texas is on tap to execute over 20 prisoners this year, is that much different than executing 100 prisoners (beyond of course the perspective of those individual prisoners)? Meaning, is a morally questionable act moderated by how often one does it?

    2. If Texas executed 18 individuals last year and the entire US executed 37 individuals, what does this mean for Texas – that it has around 50% of all the most vicious criminals in the country? That it is 50% better at finding, convicting and then executing its most vicious criminals, or that it has a political bent that make it more likely to execute someone than in most other states?

    3. Even if you believe capital punishment is okay, do you trust the system to be fair and impartial and effective in implementing it? Many governors, those who have the most personal and public choice about allowing the death penalty in their states have found that the system is far too biased and have found too many innocent people have been on death row, though I think only a few have been exonerated after their execution.

    My point is that with capital punishment, there seems to be more than a few grey areas and many times when one side acts very self-righteous and misses their own moral relativism.

    Also, paul, you wrote:

    “Okay. If a fetus comes at its mother with a knife, we’ll grant that an abortion might be okay. So we’ll carve out a new exception to the complete prohibition against abortion: knife-wielding fetuses can be killed in self-defense.”

    You are either being overly glib or completely ignorant and callous as to what giving birth entails. Abortion as means of self-defense is an incredibly small number, but to say that the risk does not exist is too ridiculous to waste time arguing. So what is more common, to die in childbirth (600 deaths per year in the US) or for death row prisoners to escape (0 per year in the US).

    I’ll leave your comment of – “As an aside, you spill a lot of verbiage for someone who doesn’t “have time” to explain their positions.” – as just an example of snarkiness or it being a long day for you.

    As for your final quote from Cardinal Ratzinger – certainly it is obvious that not all moral issues of life and death are the same. Certainly times of war one of the greatest evils is that people are put into violently diverse grey areas regarding the morality of killing someone else – is it murder or self-defense, is it personal or political self-defense, etc., which is why war is so terrible. I am certain that the Cardinal at the time did not think World War 2 was a particularly insignificant moral issue.

    As I read the article from 2004 regarding then Cardinal Ratzinger (http://www.the-tidings.com/2004/0917/difference.htm), the author actually has to explain a series of “technical” terms to interpret the Cardinal’s remarks. The point behind the article was good, in that voters are often lazy in how they vote and in how much responsibility they take for voting.

    Again, this thread and my purpose is not to argue abortion, Roe v. Wade or liberal vs. conservative values, it is about how we should view Notre Dame’s honoring of President Obama. Those are all related, but different discussions.

    I am saying simply that I disagree with those in this forum who feel that Obama is pro-abortion and that this one issue should be the sole barometer for any university to decide upon conferring honors. I do not question the theology behind Cardinal Ratzinger’s letters, but I do question how they are used by others to act holier-than-thou and how they are applied to political decisions.

    This forum does not seem to be the place for an open, sophisticated or truly rational debate on how Catholic teachings should operate in the public sphere.

    As for the view that gay marriage is of similar evil as euthanasia, this is an example of what I mean. I respect the Church’s opinions on both, but my “fidelity to the Magisterium” does not simply give me a hall pass to ignore the fact that there is a difference between the legality of civil marriage and the grace of the sacrament of marriage. Two people choosing to live together even if they can not produce children does not need a papal blessing and it is not morally equivalent to killing an innocent person. As much as I am sure DarwinCatholic knows all about the biological and psychological and spiritual truths of homosexuality, I find space to still question those who “cast the first stone.”

    Obama is against gay marriage. I did not see any signs of support by those who picketed his speech at ND, showing that they support his views on gay marriage. THAT is my point. THEY obviously already made up their minds about Obama and THEY did so from a very narrow viewpoint.

    I agree that the justice system is broken, but also based upon medieval ideas of punishment and rehabilitation. I also believe that a just economic system and a rich cultural/familial/social system are the best means for reducing criminal behavior outside the very rare sociopaths that any population will have.

    I believe a supportive family and just economic system and a just and universally accessible health care system is the best way of eliminating abortions. Anyone who claims to be pro-Life and yet wants to continue the current system in which cut-throat competition and corporate board rooms get to arbitrate all aspects of our health system are blinded by ideology.

    In the end, in my opinion, those who protested the Presidents visit to ND may be driven by honest opinions, but in the end they will probably save more innocent lives by helping him succeed, than by holding signs in opposition.

    Thanks for your comments.

    PS That conservative website http://www.conservapedia.com/Conservativism is pretty funny. The fact that it has these two sentences at the very beginning and that the author doesn’t see the inherent contradiction is amazing:

    “Reagan said: The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom . . .

    The sine qua non of a conservative is someone who rises above his personal self-interest and promotes moral and economic values beneficial to all.”

    This shows the basic flaw in current American, neo-conservative thought. This is the notion that there is no conflict between self-interest and community values, that one can hold the Bible in one hand and Atlas Shrugged in the other.

  • “I am saying simply that I disagree with those in this forum who feel that Obama is pro-abortion and that this one issue should be the sole barometer for any university to decide upon conferring honors.”

    Has anyone ever heard the President describe abortion as a tragedy? Unlike Hillary Clinton, I have not seen him say anything like that.

    Not to get into the kerfluffle of “pro-choice” v. “pro-abortion,” but it is a significant insight into his thinking on this that he is unwilling to make even a verbal nod toward the idea that an abortion is morally problematic. It is of a piece with the statement that his administration will work to reduce the need for, but not the number of, abortions. Leaving aside the difficulty of measuring reduced “need,” as opposed to measurable numbers, the former comes from a world view where abortion is the morally responsible decision. Troubling, to say the least, and difficult to see how workable common ground can be found.

  • “…it is a significant insight into his thinking on this that he is unwilling to make even a verbal nod toward the idea that an abortion is morally problematic”

    It appears you didn’t watch the last presidential debate last year between he and McCain wherein Obama had actually mentioned that he considered abortion itself not even being a moral matter.

  • that one can hold the Bible in one hand and Atlas Shrugged in the other.

    Yeah, I love me some Atlas Shrugged. Good, perceptive analysis there.

  • Paul, you kinda take things personally, don’t you.

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